A strong call for an end to the use of lead and single-use plastics in shotgun ammunition for live quarry shooting

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A group created from fieldsports and rural bodies is calling for a move away from lead ammunition within five years. The members include:

A spokesperson said: “The shooting community must maintain its place at the forefront of conservation and environmental protection. Continued development of non-lead shot and recyclable and bio-degradable plastics means the time is right for a complete transition.

“The five-year proposal allows for a smooth transition giving both the shooting community and the industry time to adapt.

“This is a significant announcement, but one the shooting community should not fear. British wildfowlers and other European countries have already moved away from lead without detriment to participation or performance.”

The future of shotgun ammunition

The group has put out a statement, explaining the move away from lead shot.

In consideration of wildlife, the environment, and to ensure a market for the healthiest game products, at home and abroad, we wish to see an end to both lead and single-use plastics in ammunition used by those taking all live quarry with shotguns within five years. The shooting community must maintain its place at the forefront of wildlife conservation and protection. Sustainability in our practices is of utmost importance.

Recently, there have been significant developments in the quality and availability of non-lead shotgun cartridges, and plastic cases can now be recycled. For the first time, biodegradable shot cups for steel shot are available. These welcome advances are continuing at an ever-quickening pace, in response to demand from a changing market. Such advances mean that, over the coming years, a complete transition is achievable.

We are jointly calling for the shooting community to engage in this transition and work with us, the Gun Trade Association and the cartridge manufacturers to ensure that further viable alternatives are developed for every situation involving live quarry.

This is a vital step we must make together to safeguard our wildlife and the wider environment.

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Move away from lead shot

Why is using lead shot a problem?

Concerns around the use of lead shot limit the current market for game products, and retailers are increasingly asking for game that has been shot with non-lead alternatives.

There is growing concern about the damage lead shot causes to wildlife away from wetlands. Non-lead alternatives of suitable quality are increasingly available

Can I fire steel shot through my shotgun?

Steel shot is classified as either standard or high performance. If your gun is nitro proofed (i.e. it can fire modern lead loads) then it will be safe to fire standard performance steel. This is generally steel of size 4 or smaller. High performance steel must be marked as such on the box, and should only be fired through guns bearing the fleur-de-lys proofmark, and usually with the words “STEEL SHOT” stamped on the barrel. If you have any doubt about your gun, seek the advice of an expert gunsmith.

What about high bird shooting?

Recent developments in soft steel shotgun cartridges should provide alternatives to lead suitable for all normal game-shooting ranges. Such ammunition is safe in the modern guns that are generally used for high bird shooting.

Reaction

We will be publishing the reactions of fieldsports fans to this news in the next few days.