Animal rights organisation ‘Animal Aid’ recently published a report arguing that shooting magazines such as ‘Shooting Times’ and ‘The Field’ should not be sold to anyone under the age of 18, and that it should be sold from the top shelf of news agents, alongside porn. Their reasoning behind was that it would ’emotionally damage’ children to see images of guns and dead game on the cover of the magazines, and could encourage them into guns which would have a negative affect on them.
Reading the article published in The Telegraph and listening the the discussion on Jeremy Vine’s Radio 2 show, it would appear that a lot of these activists are very poorly informed, haven’t read a shooting magazine or much less been on a shoot.
The first thing I see wrong with this idea of hiding the magazines from view is that it’s another example of society wrapping children up in cotton wool to ‘protect’ them from the real world. Firstly, they’re going to find the real world sooner or later, and if they’re wrapped up in cotton wool it’s going to be al the more shocking when they do come across it. Is it not better that children get used to these ideas of shooting as the norm, so they aren’t horrified when they find out. That way they can be educated with an open mind and make decisions for themselves, rather than be swept up in the anti-shooting flow. Statistics are always being published about how many thousands of children don’t know where their food comes from and think milks comes from chickens or something similarly ridiculous, is this not a good opportunity to educate them? By seeing the images of dead animals, and even by reading the recipes of how to cook them inside the magazines, children are learning about where their food comes from, how it is prepared and what they are eating, rather than seeing some meat already packaged and butchered on the shelf of the supermarket.
Secondly, the ideas that most magazines try to put forwards about shooting are those of shooting responsibly, and respecting your kill. ‘How to kill pigeons’ may seem like a morbid headline, but in reality many of the animals which are shot for sport are shot because they’re a pest. The article isn’t about throwing stones at pigeons, or just trying to kill as many as possible, it’s about how to make a clean kill to dispatch of a pest that would otherwise ruin a farmers crops. No-one wants to clip a pigeon and see it go flailing to the ground, and flap around in pain. That’s not what shooting is about, and that’s what these magazines are trying to avoid happening.
Which leads me on nicely to my final point. The statistics used by the animals rights groups are unbelievable, and I have no idea where they found them. If they can prove to me that they’re correct, then I’ll look a bit stupid and have to re-write this, but I find it hard to believe that these are valid. A representative on Animal Aid on the Jeremy Vine Show said that he had the statistics from BASC (British Association of Shooting and Conservation) in front of him, and that ’40, 50, as many as 60% of the birds shot are not recovered, bounce to the floor and are left to suffer!’ Well all I have to say to that is could he please go on a shoot, and he would realise that all birds are recovered wherever possible, and these birds are not wasted but they are eaten. Is that so much worse that raising pigs for bacon or beef cattle for burgers? In some ways, you could argue that at least the birds have a natural life, can fly around and some are never shot and die a natural death.
So, I challenge animal rights activists to learn more about shooting and also how it helps the environment and conservation. If you feed pheasant, you feed a whole lot of other bird species as well.
I’m interested in hearing anyone’s views on this subject.