BASC wriggling, G(W)CT silent. How interesting.

By Lord Mountbatten (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Lord Mountbatten (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
BASC are wriggling on lead. Their previous Chief Exec appears to be in favour of a lead-free future, on the basis of the evidence. So BASC is preparing to disparage and demean their long-serving and much-respected former Chief Exec, it seems.

I cannot understand why BASC is so against a ban on lead ammunition – they would say that they are waiting for the evidence (but in practice, they are against change).  After all, most of their members, historically, are wildfowlers who aren’t allowed to use lead ammunition anyway. So what does it matter to them?

I would be surprised if the Game (and Wildlife) Conservation Trust will speak out against a lead ban – because that would completely destroy the remnants of its scientific reputation.  But, we’ll see.

In fact, thinking about it, it would be very interesting if the G(W)CT kept quiet on this subject and left it to the completely unscientific Countryside Alliance, and fairly unscientific BASC, to make the arguments for why wildlife and people should continue to take the consequences of using a poison as ammunition.

Will the G(W)CT complete its dive to the bottom and argue publicly against a ban on lead ammunition, or will it begin its long climb back to the sunlit uplands of scientific credibility (which it used to stride with pride), by agreeing that the science behind a ban is pretty much undeniable? Silence would be pathetic, given that G(W)CT are members of the LAG (unless their Chairman’s stomping out of a recent meeting really did mean that he had resigned).

Andrew Gilruth is apt to be quite quick to shoot from the hip – what will he say about lead ammunition? My guess, is nothing. But the G(W)CT is welcome to a Guest Blog on the subject of lead ammunition here. As is, almost anyone else actually. And that includes John Swift. The G(W)CT website seems strangely reticent on the matter.

For the shooting ‘community’ this seems to be a ‘we can’t argue the science so we’ll just rant and rave about it’ type of issue.  Expect lots of ranting in, and maybe from, the Shooting Times but no carefully argued case.  Watch this space…



8 Replies to “BASC wriggling, G(W)CT silent. How interesting.”

  1. It is just amazing that these shooting organisations should contemplate not supporting a total ban on lead or even argue in favour of it. Lead is a pretty toxic substance and this has been known for ages. It is just more evidence that the shooting industry still resides in the age of quill pens and Queen Victoria.

  2. It seems like a lifetime ago but I used to be a lead beater carrying out restoration work for The National Trust & English Heritage. I was very proud and privileged to be one of a team of 3 that replaced the entire roof of the main hall at Stowe School in Buckinghamshire. The whole job took over 3 years to complete and was highly scrutinized at every stage. As part of standard practice we had to be very careful with all of our off-cuts and shavings, all had to be collected and and were then sent away for recycling. Yes part of the reason for this was the weigh-in price that was recovered for the lead, but it was made clear that we were not to allow lead to be left on site to be washed off and cause contamination. We also had to have a blood test every 6 months to make sure we didn’t have high levels of lead in our systems. These were common sense precautions and none of us ever questioned the practice as we new they were in place to protect us and the environment. Now, who knows over the last hundred years or so how much lead has been scattered all over our countryside, it shouldn’t take expensive research and endless debate to convince people to stop using it. It’s dangerous stuff and as shooters continue to argue for the right to use lead shot the situation will be getting worse. Be sensible but more importantly be responsible, it’s the not too distant future generations that are going to have to deal with your mess.

  3. I actually wonder how long the lead already out there in the marshes, lakes, etc., will take to disperse enough not to affect our wildlife!
    Fishermen, shooters, over the ages – the build up must be considerable.

  4. Lead that is bought at scrap yards must be handled with gloves, and in some cases a face mask must be worn also…( Health & Safety regulations ). So why is it legal to spray lead all over our moorlands???

  5. Can anyone enlighten me please. What is it about lead shot that shooters prefer? Is there a difference in the cost, is lead shot easier to shoot with or are the shooters just scared of change? pethaps they think if they give an inch we might take a mile …

    1. Louise – lead shot is a bit cheaper at the moment (although the difference is marginal) but that would change if the non-toxic alternatives were the ‘main’ ammunition in use. The cost of ammunition is not trivial to a shooter, but the change in cost would be a tiny proportion of the cost of the ‘sport’.
      There are some ballistic differences so you would have to adjust your shooting technique. I would consider it a bit like the change from Lsd to Lp – a bit of a pain at the time but once done you don’t look back.
      Shooters are rather reluctant to change.
      Removal of toxic shot is painted as the thin edge of some unspecified wedge by shooters but in private they have been admitting that this change is inevitable for years. The irony is probably that the more they dig their heels in, the more sane people think that shooting is full of unreasonable, intransigent, fools and thus become less sympathetic to a pastime that requires society’s tolerance in order to survive at all.

      Remember, many other countries have banned lead ammunition, and large parts of the USA too. Shooting still thrives in those countries – and the shooters are held in higher regard than they are here.

    2. Other Mark – I presume you are referring to steel shot as the alternative to lead given that you state the price is ‘a bit more’, and for the most part this is true. However, steel shot requires the use of a plastic shot cups which most shooters will not use as they don’t biodegrade and can be fatal if eaten by animals. Further, steel shot is not as ballistically efficient as lead and while you can increase the size of the shot to try to compensate it simply isn’t as effective, and increase shot size means a lesser number of shot per cartridge and therefore there is an even greater risk that a clean kill is not achieved.
      It should also be noted that there are several target based shooting sports carried out with shotguns which steel shot cannot be used, as the targets themselves are steel and shooting them with steel shot would be very, very dangerous.
      There are alternative materials such as bismuth and tungsten but where a box of lead cartridges might cost £4-6, a box of the other stuff can cost anything from £30-80!! Shooting is not the sole preserve of toffs and the filthy rich, as purported by trash newspapers and others who should know better, and forcing people to use either inferior or massively more expensive ammunition would put the vast majority of shooters out of their past time/job.

  6. is this non-degradable plastic different from the other coloured cartridge-case plastic that I see littering the countryside?

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