There have been several recent articles by a newspaper that are targeted at practical shooting, specifically a club in Scotland. Since the release of the three articles, there have been growing calls from the shooting community for the UKPSA (UK’s governing body for practical shooting) to respond to the tabloid’s requests for comment. To date, the UKPSA has declined, and rightly so. Unfortunately, however, there are some members of the shooting community who make intentionally public requests for the UKPSA to respond, and they do so irresponsibly. They do not represent the majority of the shooting community, yet they seem to think he who shouts the loudest gets heard. If the UKPSA were to bow to these demands it would result in the membership being misrepresented. Their enthusiasm is most welcome but it is unfortunately misplaced.
To be clear, there are important and functional reasons for refusing to respond to reporters baiting the shooting community. The silence is not out of laziness or fear.
As with any problem that needs solving, to determine the best course of action we must understand why it is happening in the first place. Why are the reporters coming after shooting, and practical shooting in particular? What purpose does it serve and, most importantly, what do they gain?
Newspapers and reporters publishing these articles are tabloids, and small ones at that. When regarding their website as a measure of integrity, one is immediately hit by a tsunami of clickbait adverts, an obvious indicator of their money motivation. On closer inspection, the principals seem to be serial tabloid owners, with profits giving way to any journalistic standards or ethics. All they want is a story, a story that sounds catchy to get clicks and bolster their ad revenue. This results in the stories they report lacking substance.
They do not care about shooting. They really do not care about practical shooting in Scotland. But it’s easy to spin to the concerned citizen (who’s only exposure to firearms is when they’re used to harm people) that practical shooting is a scary thing that must be stamped out. Trigger words and phrases such as ‘rapid fire’, ‘combat style’ and ‘high powered’ are misleading, used to shed a negative light on a legitimate and safe sport.
Their unfounded bias towards practical shooting as a sport has, on the face of their rhetoric, managed to persuade a Scottish MP (Alyn Smith, pictured) to bring up certain ‘loopholes’ to the Home Secretary. Unfortunately, these so-called loopholes are intentional legislation designed to make shooting more accessible (Section 11 of the Firearms Act 1968, allowing non-license holders to shoot certain shotguns and rifles whilst supervised). The same exemptions exist for clay grounds and miniature rifle ranges, both of which are enjoyed safely by multitudes of people every year. However, the tabloids unsurprisingly mislead him.
Albeit, looking at Mr Smith’s voting record, he more-or-less exclusively votes in line with the SNP against the Government. This speaks for itself - their issue is not with firearms, but their own political agenda.
Our message here is this: the shooting community will not be coerced into reacting to misleading articles. Rather, we will maintain the integrity of our legitimate sport and allow these tabloids to fail in their attempts to bait us.