Outstanding Guns 2016
Giving recognition to those who truly deserve it, for all of the right reasons.
On Wednesday, June 8, Fieldsports Magazine, in association with The Royal Berkshire Shooting School (RBSS), hosted the inaugural Outstanding Guns event which gives recognition to individuals in the world of game shooting who truly deserve it, for all of the right reasons.
Sir Ian Botham was the first recipient of the overall Outstanding Gun Award for his exceptional contributions to the sport and his willingness to speak out from a position of great prominence in order to highlight the many and widespread benefits of game shooting, both in terms of conservation and habitat management, as well as the bringing together of rural communities and providing people with livelihoods and a common cause and incentive to look after our natural resources.
Born from a conversation between Fieldsports editor Marcus Janssen and Dylan Williams of RBSS almost three years ago, the objectives of the Outstanding Guns initiative are clear: In the face of much negative publicity in the wider media and online, everyone who takes part in game shooting has a responsibility to ensure that their own conduct in the field is always exemplary, thus insuring that the right image and messages about our beloved sports are conveyed.
With this in mind, a list of Outstanding Guns was published in two successive issues of Fieldsports in 2014, giving recognition to those who do not necessarily seek the limelight, but always set a great example for others. Nominations were received from shooting industry professionals – shoot owners and managers, gamekeepers, pickers-up, loaders, shooting instructors and sporting agents – as well as the wider public and readers of Fieldsports.
“We are talking about sportsmen and women who are always well-mannered and polite,” said Marcus Janssen during his welcome address at the event, “not just to their host and fellow Guns, but to the beaters, keepers, pickers-up and caterers; people who are truly appreciative of a day’s shooting and are always respectful and considerate, not just of those they share the countryside with, but of their quarry and the environment. They are knowledgeable about flora and fauna, and have a deep-seated appreciation of the wonders of Mother Nature. Simply put, they are great ambassadors for our sport, and give far more to shooting than they take.”
By setting such a great example in the field, each of us plays a crucial role in ensuring that our fellow sportsmen and women, and the next generation of game Shots, understand the importance of ethics, etiquette, tradition, sportsmanship, camaraderie, conservation and respect, both for those we share the countryside with and our quarry and natural resources.
The 45 nominees and distinguished guests enjoyed a fun morning of clay shooting in the stunning grounds of The Royal Berkshire Shooting School before returning to the lodge for a Taittinger Champagne reception and talks from Ian Coghill, chairman of the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), MP Nigel Adams, and Sir Ian Botham himself, followed by a delicious three-course lunch by The Wild Fork catering company.
Upon accepting his award, Sir Ian spoke of the need to inform the wider public on matters of the countryside and the important role that the fieldsports community plays in managing our natural resources. “Sadly, we have reached a position in the UK in which most people simply do not understand how the countryside works,” he said. “They see a pristine river brimming with life, or a beautifully-kept estate supporting a myriad of wildlife and have no idea that behind the scenes are gamekeepers, river keepers, ghillies and estate staff working day in day out to manage that habitat for the benefit of game and wildlife. If it wasn’t for the fieldsports community and organisations like the GWCT, which are funded by country sports enthusiasts, our countryside would look very different. We should be very proud of what we do and we need to do more to get those messages across.”
Both Marcus and Dylan added that Sir Ian was the obvious candidate for the award: “He displays all the attributes of a true sportsman. He is a gentleman, and his consummate countrymanship is what makes him stand out. Over and above this, however, his efforts to explain the benefits of game shooting to the general public at the risk of immense criticism have been beyond the call of duty. As Sir Ian says, we ought to be proud of what we do and we should all be willing to speak up in support of shooting and all the good that it does.”
A call for nominations...
Outstanding Guns Nominees 2016
Sir Nicholas Bacon
Ian Coley MBE
HRH The Duke of Edinburgh
The Duke of Norfolk
The Duke of Northumberland
Lord James Percy
For more on Sir Ian Botham, click HERE.