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Sustainable ammo: why you should try it and make up your own mind

The best way to cut through the disinformation and scaremongering over sustainable ammo is to try it and make up your own mind, says Alasdair Mitchell

steel shot

Customers must be made aware of the risks of steel shot

Last season, I was assured by a fellow wildfowling club member that the shotguns being used on sustainable ammo demonstration days had been wrecked by steel shot. Naturally, I checked this allegation. It proved to be false. (Read will your shotgun be safe with steel shot?)

Yet the same claim later found its way into the letters pages of Shooting Times, where the Editor challenged the letter writer to produce photographic evidence. Answer there came none.

How does this sort of fable get passed around and given credence? Unmoderated social media has a lot to answer for. On the other hand, social media — or, at least, a multiplicity of independent media sources — can also serve as a useful antidote to propaganda. Hence the reason why the Putin regime is attempting to exert tight control over what the Russian people are being told about the Ukraine invasion.

Disinformation can be laughable, annoying, or even deadly, but it is a fact of life. To be clear, I am not talking about differing opinions or interpretations; those have legitimacy in a free society. Even scientific opinion may be exactly that, albeit based on research. Confirmation bias, where you grasp at facts that happen to suit your argument, is rife. The problem comes when disinformation is used to scare people away from trying to assess matters for themselves. When that happens, the only thing you can do is attempt to rebut the worst scaremongering and hope that people will take future claims from the same source with a bucket of salt.

In this vein, I was interested to see Steve Bloomfield rebutting the claim that steel shot would “rip through the body tissue” of people subjected to medical scans. That sort of scaremongering really should devalue the currency of those who peddle it.For some, making increasingly outlandish allegations about non-lead ammunition seems to have become an obsession in its own right, regardless of any consideration of the future of shooting. They appear to be becoming increasingly desperate.

The myths about non-lead ammunition are steadily being debunked as people try it out. I have not used lead for my shotgunning nor deerstalking for three seasons now. Last year, I detailed how I had shot some of my most sporting pheasants ever with eco-wadded steel, fired safely through an English gun.  As for stalking, I have found a copper/zinc factory round that actually works better than my old lead stuff.

Perhaps I am taking even greater care with shot placement these days but, whatever the cause, the results are impressive. I only wish I’d switched earlier.

Yet it doesn’t really matter what I say. You will have to work things out for yourself. If you are happy using lead, well, carry on. After all, no shooting organisation is campaigning to ban it. I no longer have to even wonder about lead toxicity. For my own shooting, the issue no longer exists. All I would say is this: find out for yourself. Attend a demo day or experiment with different copper ammunition in your deer or foxing rifle. Make up your own mind.