To say there is division in UK shooting and countrysports is a truth I would rather not say, but it’s an uncomfortable truth nonetheless. The division has been there for many years now and I had hoped it was beginning to wain a little but alas this weekend I was disappointed to see it’s as prevelent as ever.

It’s tactical vs tweed, those who embrace the more traditional with those who embrace moderninity.

I fall into the more modern class, I like to shoot on a range, I love to shoot handguns, semi autos or anything I can get my hands on. It’s fun you see, takes a lot of skill and is a fantastic way to spend your day. I’ve been accused many times of being “a yank wannabe” although it still perplexes me why anyone would consider living in a land with liberty to be a bad thing.

I’m also fond of meeting with my friends in tweed on occasion and taking aim at the odd pheasant for my dinner, in fact I had a fantastic day a while back in Portadown that was a lot of fun and I manged to fill the freezer which is always a bonus.

So what I’m telling you is I support anyone that likes to use a firearm for sport, I don’t deviate from that ethos, not even slightly.

So when the “Free Church Of Countysports” formed as a group on Facebook encouraging people to add the church as their religion on the UK census, I enthusiastically had a look and had hoped this was the vessel to finally join together both worlds of gun ownership with a lasting bond of brotherhood.

Unfortunately however what I found was division, a certain elitism in some cases and a very myopic attitude being shown towards target shooters by many in the comments. Not all the members of course, many positive people are in the group, but enough for me to take notice.

This is counterproductive and indicitive of what’s been going on for the last 40 years.

The formula goes like this.

Government x breakdown of society = panic ÷ more gun bans for law abiding shooters

The shooters are almost always target shooters that get targeted and their property banned. This in turn makes the most active campaigners online target shooters as it is they who stand to lose the most. I myself have a large amount of contacts that can be mobilised quickly to add pressure to MPs and groups when needed.

However, once the antis get rid of one type they focus on another, or another sport like Grouse shooting, pheasants, fox hunting or indeed any other thing they can get offended over.

Hell even fishing is in their sights.

So when I see comments like this one

It leaves me with a bitter taste in my mouth.

There should be no elitism in our fight and it is our fight, like I said I don’t wear tweed but I’ve stood up and supported many times publicly and to my own detriment those who do.

I’ve had threats made to me, doxxing attempts, people harassing my friends trying to get to me, shooters with an issue of my in your face approach gossiping like old women……..but one thing remains the same, I support anyone who shoots for sport.

Buring bridges may light the way in some cases, but the bridge of shooting and country sport isn’t that big to begin with, and it’s a wide enough chasm to cross without making it harder.

Especially not when the perception of anyone else not in the communities isn’t exactly positive to begin with. If you wear tweed they view you as a relic of the past that hasn’t a place in 21st century Britain, and that’s just as true for target sport, we are viewed as a danger even when we are not.

We are a minority.

So my thoughts on the census idea is this, nice concept but no government in the UK will currently give special status to hunting with dogs, nor will they give grace to grouse or pheasant, they view both communities as a thorn in their side of gaining Votes. As a PR exercise however it’s a good idea.

Bans on things the majority find distasteful is the British way.

So, both sides should logically unite but that won’t happen as long as this attitude prevails,

Nor will silencing any concerns.

I do however wish the concept the best of luck – however my overall feeling from reading the posts is that of both deep concern for the future in the UK and disappointment that asking for representation of target sports was too big an ask.

May the Lord have mercy

-Rev Mike Lindsay

Ordained with the Universal Life Church in the United States of America

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