Ethics: Be proud of airgun shooting

Wild game has the highest ethical standards of any meat

Wild game has the highest ethical standards of any meat - Credit: Archant

Be open and proud of our sport for the greater good – the editor says

It’s an odd topic this month, but I hope you’ll bear with me. Many times in my life I’ve been in conversation when people have enquired about my hobbies and lifestyle, and I’ve been tempted to avoid discussing shooting rather than get into awkward debates. It would have been easier to duck the difficult questions rather than stand up for the truth, and shamefully, I have to confess that sometimes I did.

However, with the confidence that my advancing years have brought, today I speak openly about hunting with airguns and do you know what? When the message is delivered well, I get no negative reactions at all. Of course, the odd vegetarian says they don’t like it and I acknowledge their point of view, but I say, ‘live and let live’. I also say, ‘please live your life in the way that suits you and let me live my way, too’. Having enjoyed so many positive responses to my hunting life, I’m more relaxed about discussing it with strangers.

Often people have terrible misconceptions about airguns, either seeing them as toys or as long-range murder weapons, and we have the chance to explain the truth, carefully and with subtle patience. Better still, offer people the chance to shoot one and let them see the truth for themselves.

Now’s the time

Over dinner once, a snooty London couple declared ‘of course, we’re opposed to hunting’. I felt my wife shift uncomfortably in her seat as I asked why. The reality was, they had no idea why. They were just city folks who had been fed anti-shooting misinformation by a left-wing media, and had never come into contact with the countryside, let alone wild game to eat. When I explained that the meat we eat is free-range and organic, having never seen inside a farm, let alone a cage, they soon saw the ethical benefits. When I also explained that it helped the farmer’s business they relaxed and agreed that what I did was a very good thing.

It could have gone wrong. We could have argued and spoilt the dinner for everybody, but by explaining compassionately and gently, they saw my point of view and we’re still friendly to this day. The way the message is delivered is as important as the message itself. I hope we’ll all be proud of what we do and have the courage to discuss it openly but gently, so that more and more people come to understand the real truth of our sport.

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