Good news for fieldsports lovers - there's a growing enthusiasm for shooting and shooting sports in England and Wales
The number of people enjoying shooting is growing, with more than 23,000 new shotgun certificates issued by police forces in England and Wales in the past year. There were 23,718 new applications between 2016 and 2017, of which 98 per cent (23,128) were granted and two per cent (590) were refused. In total, there are now 1,349,099 shotguns covered by certificates.
There was a one per cent rise in firearms certificates, up to 154,958 in total and 559,302 total firearms. The figures were revealed in a new set of national statistics published by the Home Office earlier this month.
Cause for celebration
Liam Stokes, Countryside Alliance head of shooting, commented: “First of all, welcome to the 23,128 new shotgun certificate holders. It is great to see so many new entrants to shooting. An increase in legal firearm ownership is also a cause for celebration as it means more people are engaging in safe, sociable, enjoyable shooting sports, be that on the range or in the field. We are always happy to work with police forces across England and Wales to ensure that the licensing process is as streamlined as possible.
Benefits rural businesses
“More than 600,000 people shoot in the UK, and between them they spend £2.5billion on goods and services. This spend benefits rural businesses both directly and indirectly, and helps sustain the communities of which these businesses form a part. It can make all the difference between profit and loss for some rural services, and it is thanks to shooting that many communities are kept economically viable outside traditional tourist seasons.”
The Home Office statistic also revealed the number of young people involved in shooting, with 3,896 children under the age of 18 in possession of a firearm or shotgun certificate.
Responsible and safe use of firearms
BASC chairman Peter Glenser welcomed the news and highlighted the importance of educating young people to use guns safely from an early age.
“Teaching the responsible and safe use of firearms to younger people removes the myths that surround firearms, and teaches both self-control and responsibility towards others.
“Shooting has many aspects, from pest control through to Olympic and Commonwealth Games clay shooting. It is vital that anyone wanting to compete at these top international levels gets an early start in life.
“BASC works hard to encourage young people into our sport, for example through our Young Shots programme. And last year we coached almost 6,000 young scouts and guides to shoot shotguns at the Essex International Jamboree. We are delighted to see so many young people involved in shooting sports,” Mr Glenser concluded.