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Battle lines drawn as BASC rejects proposed lead restrictions

The battle lines for the fight over lead ammunition have been drawn, with BASC publishing its response to the HSE proposals to restrict the use of lead ammunition.

The association has set out a mixed position strongly opposing some elements of the proposals and less strongly opposing others. The HSE has proposed a phased withdrawal of lead ammunition over a time period between 18 months and five years. This includes lead used for shooting live quarry and targets, when used in shotguns, rifles and air weapons. While some specific ammunition types would be allowed for longer than others, the end result would be a ban on most use of lead ammunition. (Read more on the lead ammunition ban here.)

BASC has chosen to focus its opposition to the proposals on target shooting disciplines, saying that it opposes a ban on the use of lead to shoot clay targets on the grounds that: “It is our view that lead shot can continue to be used for most forms of shotgun target shooting where risks are appropriately and proportionately controlled.” It also opposes a ban on lead rifle ammunition when used for target shooting for the same reason.


However on the use of lead for live quarry shooting the approach is more complicated. BASC England director Dan Reynolds said: “Any regulatory restriction of the use of lead in live quarry shooting must be undertaken with realistic transition periods to allow the variety of products required to be produced. We are pushing to ensure that the regulator works closely with ammunition manufacturers to understand and take account of the technical, economic and supply chain issues which impact upon the transition to non-lead alternatives.”

There are currently few or no viable non-lead alternatives for small calibre rifles and small bore shotguns. BASC is therefore pushing against a ban on lead rifle ammunition in calibres below 6.5mm. If this was adopted it would mean calibers up to .243 would remain available in lead.

BASC is also arguing to keep lead ammunition for all rimfire rifles. For airguns there are also currently no non-lead ammunition types available and BASC has
chosen to oppose restrictions on lead airgun ammunition. The consultation on the proposals remains open and individual shooters are encouraged to respond via the HSE website.