Tom Payne investigates whether the whole shooting industry should ban plastic wads
Plastic pollution is a major cause for concern these days and as shooters we have to do our bit to protect the environment and show that we are behaving responsibly.
So does that mean we should turn our back on plastic wads and make a wholesale switch to fibre wads?
I spoke to Dylan Williams at the Royal Berkshire Shooting School (RBSS) for his view on plastic wads. “It’s time to stop, think and listen or we will be in a huge mess,” he warned. “The RBSS has never bought plastic-wadded cartridges for use on the school and we have been 100 per cent fibre since 2019, which includes what clients bring.”
If only Guns were as responsible and switched to fibre wads. There are still some round who think plastic wads are fine on game days, hoping that they may be able to hit slightly higher, faster birds.
Like dumping a plastic bag
Let’s look at this comparison. A plastic wad weighs 2.5g and a supermarket plastic bag weighs 5g. So anybody who double- taps a long partridge with plastic has just effectively dumped a plastic bag in the ditch.
If you saw a vehicle driver tearing down the lanes, throwing hundreds of plastic bags into the verge, you’d doubtless be very angry.
Toxic as those wads may be, there are some who protest that they do produce a better performance. In a bid to find out whether that view holds any weight, I did a little unscientific polling. Robert Everitt, of Hull Cartridge and keen grouse Shot, says: “Plastic wads don’t make up for poor accuracy; a well-placed shot with fibre wad will always outperform a sloppy shot with plastic.”
Fibre wads a no-brainer
Game shooting instructor and top game Shot Simon Ward takes a similar line: “I have been using fibre wad ammunition for all of my game shooting for the past 20 years.” Simon has been involved in developing fibre-wadded cartridges with Gamebore over the past decade and now believes the choice is a no-brainer, saying: “Why would I want to leave the countryside littered with plastic?”
A South African friend, Marcus Janssen, previously editor of Fieldsports Magazine and now brand director at Schöffel, is a conservationist through and through. My mention of plastic rather offended him. “That anyone would consider using plastic wad cartridges for game shooting shows a flagrant disregard for the countryside, and for the rest of the shooting community. It is irresponsible and, quite frankly, reprehensible,” he said.
John Queen, headkeeper at Linhope estate, said: “Linhope has a 100 per cent plastic wad ban. We pride ourselves on maintaining our beautiful estate and many more should follow suit. Conservation is at Lord James’s [Percy, owner of Linhope] heart. It is unacceptable to be shooting plastic wads for any form of game shooting.”
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This article was originally published in 2019 and has been updated.