Left the house last Thursday morning at 4am, drove to Edinburgh airport, parked the car and caught a flight to Manchester.
Met up with Allan Hodgson our SGA Firearms Officer who had arrived on a flight from Inverness.
We then picked a hire car up and drove south for an hour and a half to our destination which was the JCB World Headquarters in Rochester, Staffordsire.
The JCB building was really spectacular. The conference room and dining room had all the state- of- the- art facilities.
We were attending a National One-Day Conference: Best Practice in Licensing Firearms for Live Quarry Shooting.
The conference was organised by our sister organisation, the National Gamekeepers Organisation, to promote best practice in firearms licensing countrywide. Chief Constable Andy Marsh chaired the conference for the day and each presentation was brief and to the point.
To summarise the day, the main thrust was to — "Always ensure public safety" leading through to Good Reason, Suitability, Land checks, Conditions, Mentoring, Fees, Medical Fitness, Using eCommerce and Cutting Waiting Lists.
The day was most interesting and useful and we were assured to hear that the shooting organisations would be engaged in any future dialogue.
JCB are one of the NGO's main sponsors. Blaser Sporting UK sponsored the lunch and Edgar Brothers sponsored the presentation pack.
To have access to such a fantastic venue is very impressive and it was an enjoyable day made more so by meeting up with many old friends and acquaintances. We left the conference at 4:30pm to make our way back, arriving home at 11pm. A long day but well worth the effort.
The badger cull is now well under way down south and I wish them every success in their operation, although I feel this would have been achieved more thoroughly by re-licensing the use of gas.
The gamekeepers have been warning for decades of the imbalance in nature especially when it comes to our top predators. What the cull has done is opened up the bigger debate of managing species.
If the likes of BBC Springwatch had tackled this issue twenty years ago many of the young adults of today would have a far deeper understanding of nature!
Even the latest episode of Countryfile avoided any confrontation when talking of water voles. They subtly implied the voles were coping better when they lived in a protected area. Mink were mentioned but not in the same sentence.
It is so sad to see the huge urban population being fed fairyland tales when there is a golden opportunity to show land management- its necessities and benefits- at the sharp end.