Guest blog – by John Swift, chair of the Lead Ammunition Group


Mark writes: John Swift is the former boss of BASC and for more than five years has been the Chair of the Lead Ammunition Group set up by the last Labour government and treated so shabbily by the outgoing Secretary of State for Environment Liz Truss only a matter of 12 days ago.

Here he writes for the first time about the work of the LAG and what he feels is the way forward.




I have just been made aware by one of his members that Tim Bonner of Countryside Alliance has circulated his opinions on Liz Truss’s letter to me about the Lead Ammunition Group. My advice is to take Tim’s wishful thinking with a pinch of salt.

Let’s be clear. The problems of lead in ammunition are not about to go away. They are getting bigger and more obvious. The Lead Ammunition Group remains in place for the time being to keep this emerging science under review and continue to provide sound advice where needed, albeit without the non-scientist stakeholder representatives who resigned en bloc last year when they didn’t like what the evidence was telling them.

So browse the LAG Report and Appendices and, if that’s not enough, the proceedings of the Oxford Lead Symposium – then take a view.  The literature is vast so I won’t tax you with more homework than that. And if you aren’t a scientist I will give below a non-scientific way of looking at it.

It will perhaps be an anathema for many who read this blog to start by making clear that I have shot all my life and I’m also a paid up member of the Conservative Party.

When I was doing my 25-year stint as Chief Executive at BASC, constructive dialogue and cooperative working were the way we did things. Mark used to buttonhole me at the CLA Game Fairs, often at the GWCT champagne reception, and we had many useful conversations about contentious subjects. We would end by him saying, “Now please introduce me to the person who least wants to meet me” and we would have some fun drawing up a list.

I owe my love of countryside and conservation in the first instance to my father, Dr Peter Swift FRCP, a senior clinical specialist in neonatal paediatrics who, incidentally, knew a thing or two about the dangers of lead, and to Dr Jeffery Harrison a GP (when he wasn’t birding or wildfowling). For me, nature conservation has always come first. Shooting is a dependent privilege to be exercised with care.

I was inspired to read zoology at Oxford by Professor Niko Tinbergen, listening to his discussion with the redoubtable fisherman, Hugh Falkus, while exploring the Animal Behaviour Research Group’s study area in the vast gulleries at Ravenglass in Cumberland (now sadly gone). Those discussions brought together the high science of academe with the low cunning of a practiced countryman.  I was then but a lowly gap-year assistant for Mike Norton-Griffiths helping his DPhil research into Oystercatcher learning behaviour, before going up to Brasenose.

After Oxford and commercial management training in London, chance took me to WAGBI as the Association’s first Conservation Research Officer. Researching the Common Snipe (among many other adventures) I had the good fortune to have my MPhil thesis mercilessly dissected (with cutting good humour) by Professor Geoffrey Matthews at The Wildfowl Trust. He taught me about the essential discipline of good science for effective conservation.

Another big influence on me was Professor Teppo Lampio from the Game Biology Station at Oulu in Finland. As chairman of the IWRB’s Hunting Rationalisation Working Group, he taught me about patience and pragmatism. I was about to do something for momentary effect rather than long-term result, and he stopped me: “We learned in the Winter War that pissing in our pants to keep warm was not a good thing ”.

I would also like to take this opportunity to mention the great Hugh Boyd whose sad passing I only learned about this weekend. Having been sent to spend time at the Ducks Unlimited (Canada) offices in Winnipeg and the Delta Waterfowl Research Station upcountry in late 1978, I visited Hugh in Ottawa where he was head of the Canadian Wildlife Service. After a brief, friendly discussion he required me that very afternoon to make a presentation to the assembled CWS Provincial Directors on priorities for BASC’s conservation and research programmes in the coming 5 years; which I’m happy to say were to be achieved and stand the test of time – thanks in no small measure to Hugh.

I could mention many other characters and escapades that shaped 40 years at WAGBI and BASC, the last 25 years as Chief Executive – all of which have aided my approach to the last 5 years’ difficult work as Chairman of the Lead Ammunition Group.

As a shooter and paid up member of the Conservative Party, it now puzzles me profoundly, all the weight of science to one side, that the current shooting hierarchies at my alma mater, BASC, as well as the current Government administration at Defra, “don’t get” the non-scientific argument either, that littering the countryside every year with thousands of tonnes of poisonous substance and encouraging the provision of dirty food to people already known to be vulnerable – all of it avoidable – needs to have something done about it – urgently.

When we embarked on the LAG process I was not convinced that the case for sweeping legislative prohibition of lead from all ammunition, shot and bullets, across all forms of shooting, living quarry and target, was yet justified. I knew well, as did all the members of the shooting industry’s Lead Ammunition Technical Working Group which I had chaired for many years, that lead was a uniquely “nasty poison” and changes should be explored and encouraged, but did not go further at that time.

During the past 5 years in LAG I have been privileged to work with massively intelligent and professional specialists. As their Chairman I have had to wrap a cold towel round my head and piece together the complex science of several disciplines through every twist and turn. It hasn’t always been straightforward but the quality of their contributions to our Group, especially in the form of the risk assessments is very high. I thank them all deeply.

The various representatives to the Group from the different stakeholder interests, mostly non-scientists as mentioned, raised every herring they could think of and helped us decide which were red or which might perhaps carry some weight. These issues are all reviewed at length in the LAG report or in the published minutes of meetings on our website. It has been saddening to hear personal remarks about bias and conspiracy – but once we got the basic rules sorted out at the beginning, it became possible to resolve or navigate around any differences as they arose.

So, having personally had to work through all the evidence (which is considerable with new stuff continuing to appear even as I write this), having studied all those shoals of herrings, being familiar with experiences in other countries, and knowing from a lifetime’s professional work how it is likely to play in the shooting world here at home, my absolute conclusion must be, and is without shadow of doubt, that the only way to get rid of all the many damages that lead ammunition does to our environment, wildlife and human health, is replacement of lead with the known alternatives.

I’m absolutely confident that sooner or later the penny will drop, perhaps by degrees. Shooting will change.  But for that to happen sooner rather than later there needs to be political direction from upstairs, and for that much will depend on the leadership calibre of those in authority – both governmental and non-governmental.

And after a few years we will all be saying – bar one or two who I could possibly name – what was all the fuss about? Just as we now do with seat belts, lead-free petrol, not smoking in pubs and restaurants – or chucking harmless litter into the street.  All of them were fiercely resisted in their time.




59 Replies to “Guest blog – by John Swift, chair of the Lead Ammunition Group”

  1. Great post.
    Love the back stories that go with it — especially the one about your former mentor, the Finish professor and his acerbic ‘pissing the pants’ dictum.

    1. It must be a Nordic thing – there’s an Icelandic proverb that goes “Pissing in his shoe keeps no man warm for long”

    2. Murray – Agree. Also loving John’s comments on the future of the Lead Ammunition Group. Liz Trust wrote “this marks the end of the Group which the Government established in 2010” — not it “remains in place for the time being to keep this emerging science under review and continue to provide sound advice where needed”. Still, makes a good story. Best, Andrew

      1. Andrew – surely you meant Miss Trust?

        And since the group is a group of volunteers – unpaid experts – they can stay together as long as they like.

        Very constructive comment from you… Really gets to the heart of the issue…. Detailed and probing….

      2. Shallow comment from Andrew Gilruth – what we’ve come to expect from the GWCT, sadly.

        1. Incidentally and off topic.
          Any chance of a blog possibly by a guest on the Lynx re-introduction scheme. I notice, surprise surprise, that the G[WCT] are opposed although they dress it up in fancy words.
          They ask our opinion on the bottom of this webpage

          It seems relevant that the restriction on the spread of Lynx would be heavily dependent on the grouse industry. First through persecution (they eat grouse) and secondly through the limitations of habitat due to mono-cultural heather. I think the grouse lobby must be rather alarmed [I prefer a more colloquial phrase] with the idea of re-wilding becoming more popular
          Personally i have recently come to the conclusion, with hindsight, that Red Kites should never have been introduced without first banning grouse moors. The same should apply to Lynx.
          I know that shot Lynx would very probably mean be the end of grouse moors and i can see the temptation in that lure but it would be completely unethical, in my opinion.

  2. Excellent! A clear example of scientific credibility and pragmatic reason. I was brought up in a shooting environment, became a WAGBI member and later a BASC member. I worked in a rural environment, was a keen shooter and deer stalker, bird ringer, wildlife artist, worked as a warden and eventually gained a doctorate in Avian Ecology. I published an article in The Field in 1987 calling for a move to steel shot (amongst other ideas for regulating wildfowling from the inside, but with little effect). Subsequently I gave up sport shooting ( about 25 years ago) as a matter of personal choice. I also spent 8 years working in the agro-chemical industry where similar arguments prevailed (and still do). I saw the removal of DDT, restriction of use of other pesticides and a move to integrated pest control all as a result of persistence and hard science. We are obliged to continue this fight by conscience and a moral obligation to the environment which sustains us, not simply to take account of minority self-interest based on ignorance. Well done Mark and Jon Swift!

  3. As an angler, I moved from lead shot years ago. The arguments were sound- we were killing wildfowl and polluting the environment.The alternatives work fine. I just don’t understand why the shooting fraternity can’t get the same message. Must be something they eat.

    1. Unfortunately there is still a hard core of anglers who want to go back to lead weights for either “tradition” or just to spit in the face of those whom they consider wishy-washy do-gooding hippies. And that latter sentiment is exactly why so many Tories and other shooters want to keep using lead shot and still keep trashing the environment and slaughtering all other wildlife except game birds.

      It isn’t about the science, it is about spiting the environmentalists just to show how much contempt they have for hippie do-gooders. It is opposition for the sake of having enough power to oppose. There is not really a lot that can be done to fight it. We can keep grinding away at the general public sentiment to bring more people onside, but eventually the Tories and Shooters will have to be open confronted and removed from positions of power. Good Tories should do their utmost to prepare their party for that and sow the seeds of accepting that with humility this time.

      1. ‘Unfortunately there is still a hard core of anglers who want to go back to lead weights…’

        I’m sorry but that it utter nonsense, it really is. I can accept you may not approve of angling, but please don’t make up rubbish like this.

        1. I don’t mind most angling, but there is a hard core of nutters in it that want to turn the clocks back to angling as it was in Edwardian times. Otter hunts, lead weights, and all. I certainly have no objection to the odd bit of fresh caught pike or trout, and I know the only way that happens is angling. Overall it is a hobby on which I am broadly neutral. Some of the anglers though… Oy.

          1. I’m sorry but as a keen birder/angler. Whilst there is still a ‘group’ of cornorant/Otter haters our there on the river banks, I’ve yet to many any who even mention lead weights! Nevermind still use them or wish to turn the clock back.

          2. The ban on lead split shot hasn’t had any impact on carp or specialist anglers. Coarse and match anglers using split shot for float fishing quickly found other non-toxic alternatives (steel, tungsten, nickel, iron, bismuth), some of which are better then lead (less shiny). Lots of anglers now use different types of weights known as Stotz or Styles which offer a better presentation than split shot – they couldn’t be made from lead as it would be too soft.

            As a ‘traditional’ angler with an interest in vintage tackle, split cane rods etc, and frequenter of forums and clubs of like minded anglers, I haven’t come across anyone calling for lead split shot to be reintroduced. On the other hand I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard anglers complaining about shooters still using lead.

          3. I haven’t heard any anglers wanting to ‘un ban’ lead weights myself, but I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if they exist as you say to spite conservationists. Sadly the anti predator mania has always been there to a certain extent but seems to be getting worse – talk of creating otter culling licenses, and I’ve read posts from anglers saying they don’t mind the odd goosander or osprey, but any more than that and all their fish will get eaten. Where have we heard that before? I have a friend who fishes that is practically a dangerous revolutionary because he knows and says dead trees in water provide a vital habitat for fish (one of the local angling club claims one of its main tasks as removing trees from the river), but even he states unequivocally that salmon are in trouble because cormorants and seals are eating them all. I’m worried that anglers could be an increasingly loud anti predator voice, the ecologically literate ones seem to keep their heads down and I can understand why sadly.

          4. Les,

            Pass the links below onto your revolutionary friend. Thankfully lots of fishery managers are realising the benefits of woody debris. Lots of my older angling acquaintances are stilled scarred by the memory of the NRA completely obliterating some of their treasured stretches of river – all in the name of flood defence and tidiness!

            Anglers and predation – from where I’m standing the Predation Action Group (PAG) is dying on its backside – much to my relief.



      2. Yes there’s a lot of spite being directed at the conservation sector – it’s not legitimate difference of opinion or views, just spite, bile and smears. It doesn’t matter what the RSPB does it will be ridiculed – their work to remove black rats from the Shiant Isles to help struggling seabirds got a fair amount of media coverage and therefore in retaliation there were ludicrous comments from the usual crowd that the RSPB were exterminating the last remnants of a part of our wildlife heritage – referring to a non native mammal that definitely impacts seabirds and is by no means endangered in its native range. You just couldn’t make that up, but it was the moronic, predictable and pathetic response from the same lot that tell each other poisoned birds of prey are kept in a freezer to be dumped on estates to incriminate them. The open hill deer stalking, mass grouse and pheasant shooting we have are utterly and inherently unecological. The bad shooters know this and that it’s incompatible with real conservation which is why there is a constant smear campaign against us. There are decent shooters (John Swift for one) and anglers, but they are a minority plainly and not the dominant political voices in their communities. Watch a few programmes on Charlie Jakoby’s odious Fieldsports channel and you’ll see what too many hunters are really like – petulant, infantile (please see Andrew Gilruth’s earlier comment), socially inadequate, selfish and sometimes just down right weird. It’s about time that we started to publicly turn their words against them so they are the brunt of well deserved ridicule – fair’s fair. Holding back in any hope that we can reach accomodation with them has been a BIG mistake IMHO.

  4. An excellent post. It is sad that the the non-scientist stakeholder representatives turned their backs on the LAG when the mounting evidence did not suit their point of view but perhaps not surprising. An ability to fly in the face of facts seems to be a common character trait of the present leadership of the shooting organisations. Whilst there are many readers of this blog who disagree with all forms of shooting I am sure that most would vastly prefer the approach you describe when WAGBI/BASC engaged constructively with conservation bodies and took science seriously over the bone-headed contrariness of the Countryside Alliance et al.
    The airy dismissal of the LAG recommendations by Ms Truss was very disappointing but I am sure that any crowing by the pro-lead lobby will eventually prove to have been premature. As you say the evidence continues to mount up and sooner or later it will become impossible to dismiss. Thank you for your role in pulling so much evidence together and for working so hard to persuade your fellow shooters that it is time to change. I am sure you are right that one day the penny will drop; let’s hope it is sooner rather than later.

  5. Thank you Mr Swift both for this interesting blog but mostly for your leadership and perseverance in the LAG deliberations. I’m pleased to be able to communicate pretty directly with you and to thank you and others in the Group who (will eventually) have done our wildlife a great service.

    We will all do our best to make sure this issue is kept alive until shooters, legislators or both see the sense of removing this poison from the environment (or to at least stop adding more).

  6. Is the current DEFRA position on lead likely to be policy-based evidence making? Mark what are the odds?

  7. Very well put.

    Given the difficulty in getting unreasonable people to accept change is needed and to introduce the tools to push the change, it looks likely that we will be necessary to work with the tools we have.

    One of these debatable point is the interpretation of the Ramsar definition of wetland, specifically Peatland. The shooting fraternity seem to have adopted their own definition. For them, Peatland is only Peatland when there are open water bodies scattered around (although I have seen YouTube footage of a line of buts straddling a pool system.)
    Let’s show them that all Peatland is wetland….its 90% water regardless of the surface…..

  8. Just when I feared that there was no possibility of finding any common ground with the shooters, along comes this excellent blog. It almost restores my faith in the human species.
    Politicians, on the other hand, are quite a different matter…

  9. Great post. For me, the quote that stood out was:
    “For me, nature conservation has always come first. Shooting is a dependent privilege to be exercised with care”

  10. Good blog and good comments. The question that needs to be asked is, is it now time for another try at a petition to ban lead shot outright?
    18 months ago, many of us may have said no. To soon to try again. However Mark, your own tenacity with your DGS petitions, now on the third try, has shown that you can indeed increase awareness with each run. Each petition has shown a great increase in the number of signitures and I’m quite sure that if you don’t achieve the 100k this time, you will try again and get it.
    If Rob Sheldon doesn’t fancy another bash, maybe John Swift himself, who better qualified?
    I’d be happy to have a go myself but so much better done by someone with real experience.
    Who ever starts another petition would, of course need the help and support of blogs such as this and ideally, the support of the larger NGOs, but it would be interesting to see if a new petition achieved more support than the last.

  11. Both interesting, and horrifying that ” littering the countryside every year with thousands of tonnes ” of lead is allowed ? All lobbied for by a tiny minority of self interested shooters ?

    Is this measurable in drinking water, I wonder? I will mail the snp government and ask why this has not been banned, as a matter of urgency.

  12. Can I ask an ignorant question please? Just what is the objection to moving from lead to alternative forms of shot?

    1. Tom, I asked that same very good question last year. Shooters will come up with a few petty excuses but I think what it boils down to is that they don’t want to give an inch.
      “Thin end of the wedge don’t ya know”.
      I know of at least one European country that has been using an alternative for over twenty years. I believe I’m right that many others have made the switch also.

      Lead is a poison, end of!

      1. I thought I saw something recently that only 5 European countries where lead is not banned but can,t remember where I saw it. It showed a map of Europe.

    2. The objection is “we can’t let these hippie do-gooders push us around”. That is it in a nutshell. There is a claim of cost, sometimes of retraining in that they claim lead alternatives behave differently when shot so gun users will need to be retrained to get the same level of accuracy, and also a claim the antique weapons might be damaged by lead alternatives. It is basically a lot of grasping at straws to justify not wanting to have someone tell them what to do, because they are the bosses and we are the great unwashed and that is how it is meant to be.

  13. As a young birder in the late ’50s I was already made aware of the killing effects of lead shot, as the persistent deaths of wintering Whooper Swan at my preferred patch of Leighton Moss in Cumbria, had been linked to the birds ingesting spent shot with their ‘water weed’ diet when regular shoots were held there. I find it amazing 60+ years on, there’s still no action.

  14. In response to Tom Willis: – Most of the alternatives to lead are less humane and cause suffering to the bird or animal being shot. There is one alternative which is effective but costs many times more which would be unaffordable to many poorer shooters.
    While lead is soft it does not harm your teeth when eating say a pigeon and biting on a pellet , while steel can break a tooth.

    1. Don’t bite so heavily when chewing then. If you are just ripping at stuff with your teeth at the force necessary to break one then you are not savouring the meat flavours anyway. More flavour is released by a gentle chewing action which would allow a person feel a steel pellet and discreetly spit it out safely too. On cost, well lots of other sports have costs which make it prohibitive for some people, take motor racing for example or motor sailing, but are necessary on grounds of the public good and greater safety. People just have to suck it up, save up and participate less often, or in different ways, or find a less expensive hobby. Hell, poor people have been priced out of five-a-side football before now because of rising costs. Sucks for them, but that is how the world has worked for everyone else so why should shooters be exempt?

      Your argument boils down to “I don’t wanna, waaaaaaaaaaaaa!”. So here is your rattle back, plastic because I was pried out of the ivory or silver market (hah!), and go shake it somewhere else.

      1. “More flavour is released by a gentle chewing action”

        I must remember that next time I’m gumming some flinty granary bread, or I forget to brush my hair with a hundred strokes

    2. Friends of mine in Scandi and Canada (who shoot for food) were amazed when they saw that lead would continue to be allowed in the UK. The alternatives are out there, and actually work as well as lead, and as for cost, if this was the only option increased levels of production would drive prices down. The distinct lack of enthusiasm is actually about shooters lack of willingness to change.
      As all my hunting friends quarry is eaten I think they’d also disagree about your teeth comment.
      There is no scientific evidence that lead alternatives are worse – just hearsay and second hand opinion, whereas there is abundant scientific fact to say that lead is harmful and should be banned.

    3. The Oxford Lead Symposium presented evidence that alternatives to lead ammunition are available for all types of hunting that are effective in terms of achieving clean, quick, humane kills. There is experience in a number of countries which have banned lead for long periods and this shows that alternatives to lead can be successfully introduced without problems.
      If the cost of these alternatives is greater than it is for lead then so be it – if it costs more to shoot in an environmentally responsible way then that’s just the way it is. There are many areas in life where we could all save money if we didn’t have to also consider the well being of our fellow citizens or of the environment but we mostly all accept the need to bear the extra cost for the benefit of all. Why should it be different for shooting?
      As to the hardness of steel shot and the consequent risk to teeth, I’d say that I would far rather run the risk of damaging a tooth (a risk which it has been pointed out can be moderated by chewing carefully) to the much more insidious risk of lead poisoning.

      1. Yes – I’ve thought for some time that we should all be using shot made out of depleted uranium. It has excellent ballistic qualities unlike steel.

    4. “Most of the alternatives to lead are less humane and cause suffering to the bird or animal being shot” Where is your EVIDENCE for this or is this the usual tosh, sorry lies from the Countryside Areliars. Tell it to the Danes who banned lead years ago and they will laugh at you. They’d not go back to lead if they had the chance. The science against lead is overwhelming, its just a matter of time and no amount of invented pseudo science will save it. Bite the bullet ( or may be not) and change. Be ahead of the game for once instead of being dragged kicking and screaming into the real world.

    5. Isn’t that an argument to ban lead from the poision angle?
      That there are pieces so large that they would break your teeth if they were made from harder substances.

  15. Excellent blog John, Mark
    What a shame there isn’t such visionary leadership of the current shooting organisations.
    With reference to the comment about another petition, I would suggest that the time isn’t quite right yet, but it is highly likely I will launch one in the future (as long as it has the support of a few of the key NGOs and this blog).

  16. I see that there is clutching at straws, but in the grand scheme of things even if (and I don’t accept there is) there was a welfare issue with using alternative ammunition, what of the welfare issue of 10,000+ birds slowly and painfully dying of lead poisoning?

  17. I can only speak for myself yet hope others will agree that what is a real anathema for many on this side of the fence is not that John Smith has shot all his life or that he’s the Conservative Party, but that many on the hunting side of the fence adamantly refuse to follow the science and by so doing damage our environment. To go against most of your peers on an issue like this requires great personal honesty and integrity – thank you.

  18. John, an excellent blog. Having worked with you over a number of years and issues I’d simply say that you were always the thinking, listenng end of shooting – and I know you are not alone, although sadly many of those who support you n shooting stay all too silent. I have admired your stand on lead – I know from personal experience how uncmfortable it can be to be out of step with your own side. And I am proud that Forest Enterprise England is in the process of making the biggest biomass of game under a single management lead free. Itnis the only way and where politics have failed, maybevthe market will correct as condumers realis there is a poison free way to eat venison.

  19. There is a few comments about other nations above, my experience is that there is as much diversity amongst hunters in other nations as there is in the UK, on the issue of lead. It is worth making the point that the UK is different to most other nations in the EU that take leadership in game management in its reliance on commercial high volume shooting.

    This difference is the sticking point. Leaving the questionable conclusion that steel shot is less humane than lead. Questionable because research on steel and other non-leads has been undertaken but little research on lead is undertaken any more. So there is little to compare it to. Steel shot is affordable and when used appropriately is as effective as lead on small and medium sized birds out to 40m. So if your commercial shooting is based on selling days where birds are presented from 30m-70+m then steel becomes less effective. I would argue so does lead but that’s another debate.

    Wildfowlers, that is coastal shore hunters, are using non-lead shot without difficulty. Many have switched entirely to steel for all bird hunting.
    I use steel, it works just fine within my capability. So for “hunting” there is no need to delay a switch from lead based on effectiveness. For commercial shooting there may be a problem in switching.

    Yes more non-lead shot types exist, expensive ones. But the issue is also about the high end and older gun market which cannot use many of the non-lead shot types.

    Now back to the drive for a complete ban. Of course that might work but it is a big step. I am surprised it was the only or main suggestion from LAG. The momentum for change comes from wildlife and human health effects. On wildlife effects there is great confusion, some of it avoidable. We don’t currently know anything about wild duck exposure to lead shot in uk wetlands from shooting since the legislation change – not an ounce. I hope we can all work to change this. What we do know is that ducks, mallard, shot on driven shoots, are regularly shot using lead shot. Given that these are areas pheasant and pigeon etc can be shot with lead regularly (due to madness of the legislation), and that these areas are not expansive UK wetlands – this is not evidence of lack of compliance by those shooting over wetlands.

    I could go on for hours about this, and would love to but it will be long. Lets just say that we should try to tackle this is smaller effective steps and we need that info on exposure. I find it very strange that we don’t.

    On human health I see a case for a ban or better labelling. I am disappointed in the communication of the risks, relative to say sitting on the sofa eating hot dogs vs climbing a hill, walking an estuary and eating a lead shot pheasant? But lead clearly is a risk as us cadmium and mercury in freshwater fish and we need to communicate that better and reasonably.

    So in summary – many could easily switch off lead shot today. More needs to be done to understand the effectiveness of any shot type for small-medium birds at long ranges. Commercial driven rear and release is why there is a persistent lobby against a lead ban, this is sold as an attack on all shooting. Rear and release/driven shooting is the only link to butcher/dealer bought mallards – to claim anything else is misleading. That there are no population consequences of lead is “possibly” the case. But we can return to that last point later.

    1. Steel is only about 2/3 the density of lead. This affects the ballistic qualities massively reducing the foot pound energy of pellets very significantly at any range. It is just a damned lie to suggest that projectiles which are 2/3 the weight of other projectiles are as effective at quickly despatching game. they can not be. It is a matter of physics, not comparable to anecdotal evidence about what Danes think.

  20. There was a time when one listened very carefully to what BASC said because you knew if it came from or was approved of by John Swift it was always relevant and based on good science. Sadly that seems no longer the case and I for one think that the whole of shooting ought to feel the same way.

  21. Having wasted years trying to engineer evidence to support a ban on lead shot, and failing miserably, the LAG does indeed need to come to an end as Elizabeth Truss suggested – having achieved nothing. I’m sure the members can find something else to complain about, albeit without achieving anything other than filling their time.

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