British Association for Shooting and Conservation
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|Headquarters||Marford Mill, Rossett|
|Area served||United Kingdom|
|Key people||Stanley Duncan, founder; Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, patron; David Douglas-Home, 15th Earl of Home, chairman|
The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) is a non-profit making Industrial and Provident Society, whose mission is to promote and protect sporting shooting and the well-being of the countryside throughout the United Kingdom and overseas. With around 132,000 members and 105 staff BASC is the largest and best resourced country sports organisation in the UK. Its magazine "Shooting and Conservation" has the largest circulation of any shooting magazine in Britain.
Sporting shooting includes wildfowling, game, and rough shooting, deer stalking, target shooting and air gunning, pigeon shooting and pest control, gundogs and promoting practical habitat conservation. BASC is also involved in the political representation of shooting - training and the setting of standards in shooting sports and the Association undertakes research in its area of interest.
BASC began as the Wildfowlers Association of Great Britain and Ireland, (WAGBI) founded by Stanley Duncan, an engineer and gun shop owner from Hull, in 1908. Duncan was a highly experienced wildfowler and naturalist who feared for the future of wildfowling which was under threat from attempts to control the foreshore. He was also concerned to protect coastal habitats to preserve wildfowl and defend shooting from "protectionist" extremists wishing to ban the sport. The first President was Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey, a notable Edwardian shot and author of several books on shooting. Duncan remained the secretary of WAGBI until 1946. Duncan was also a member of the Zoological Society.
For his fowling expeditions Duncan stayed at the Black Hut on Patrington Haven on the Humber. Legend credits this as the place where WAGBI was founded and the hut became iconic to generations of fowlers. The truth is more prosaic. The first WAGBI meeting was held in an hotel in Hull. The Black hut was allegedly washed away by a big tide in 1969 but was more likely destroyed by a digger clearing the site.
WAGBI nearly died due to the losses sustained by its members during the world wars. By 1953 the Association was in sufficiently good shape to mount a formidable defence of wildfowling against the Protection of Birds Bill which threatened to impose unnecessary and restrictive controls on the sport. WAGBI’s successful lobbying resulted in legislation that was far more balanced and which was dubbed by the sports' opponents as "The Wildfowlers’ Charter".
Following this victory WAGBI appointed its first full-time director, a former naval officer and Liverpool businessman, Commander John Anderton, who summed up his agenda as "doing one’s best for something one likes – backed by the conviction that what one is doing is right." Under Anderton WAGBI focused its efforts on raising standards among wildfowlers and establishing a network of wildfowling clubs to preserve local shooting and maintain records of wildfowl populations.
The Association had always been inclusive and welcomed those who participated in other areas of shooting. In addition shooting had become more open with individuals pursuing several forms of the sport. The change of name to the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) was agreed at the Annual General Meeting in 1981 in recognition that shooting sports required a single representative body and that WAGBI was the most suitably placed organisation to take on the role.
BASC is a representative body for shooting sports and is constituted as an industrial and provident society for the benefit of the public in which each member has a share. The Association is governed by a Council elected from the members. Council is advised by a series of committees for Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, game shooting, deer stalking and wildfowling. At the last count membership stood at 132,000 (December 2013)
Marford Mill, the Association’s headquarters was acquired in 1976. The property is a former water mill close to Chester. Among the collections held by BASC are several firearms of note such as Irish Tom, a punt gun of unusual length and bore and Colonel Hawker’s double punt gun.
The Association has country offices in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as five English regional directors and their staff based in the North, the Midlands, the East of England, the South East and the South West.
While the main purpose of the Association is the protection and promotion of country shooting and its associated conservation activities, members benefit from a range of services. These include £10 million of public liability insurance for country sports, the wildfowling permit scheme, deer stalking schemes and the Goshooting initiative that links those looking for a shooting opportunity with those providing them. Members also receive the benefit of advice from BASC’s expert staff on issues involving shooting and firearms certification and licensing, land management and gamekeeping.
Among BASC’s notable projects are Green Shoots, which links members to local biodiversity plans, Young Shots, which seeks to educate young people about field sports, and Taste of Game which promotes game meat. BASC is a signatory to the Code of Good Shooting Practice and produces a series of codes of practice on aspects of shooting.
In politics BASC operates on an all-party basis and has scored notable recent victories in ensuring that shooting was not damaged by the Hunting Act 2004, preserving the legal right for young people to continue to go shooting with airguns, where they have the permission of the landowner, and securing an exemption from the ban on the docking of dogs tails for gundogs. Currently all the major political parties in Britain are pledged to support shooting sports. BASC provides the secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Shooting and Conservation and, at the request of MPs, organises the annual Lords v. Commons clay pigeon shoot.
Over the years BASC has demonstrated a willingness to engage constructively with others from outside the sport such as Natural England, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, and the RSPB. While this has been criticised by those who would prefer to demonise the opponents of shooting BASC has never wavered from the belief that it is better to win your opponent over to a constructive solution rather than engage in negative battles.[neutrality is disputed]}
The patron of the Association is Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh who has held the office since 1967. The current Chairman is the Earl of Home. Richard Ali succeeded John Swift as Chief Executive of the Association in 2013.
- A strong and unified voice for shooting
- All party backing for shooting
- Balanced comment in the media
- Continued opportunity to go shooting
- High standards
- Driven grouse shooting
- Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust
- Game (food)
- Hunting in the United Kingdom
- Wildlife management
- Gun politics in the United Kingdom
- "Shooting Politics, episode 13, 17th February 2010". fieldsportschannel.tv. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
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