Shooting ‘a regular’ part of rural life, police told

Graham Downing

Graham Downing - Credit: Archant

Shooting is a “regular and natural” part of everyday life in rural Suffolk, new police recruits were told at a Suffolk event.

Graham Downing from Chediston near Halesworth, a former chairman of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) Suffolk branch committee and current chair of the organisation’s Forestry and Woodland Committee, explained to a group of officers how firearms are used in the countryside for sport and wildlife management at an advice event at Heveningham Hall, near Halesworth.

Presenting alongside a representative from the British Association of Shooting and Conservation (BASC), Mr Downing, an experienced shooter and deerstalker, has been passing on advice over the last three years at the request of Suffolk Constabulary’s Rural Crime and Wildlife Officer PC Mark Bryant.

“The objective is to show to them how shooting and the use of firearms is a regular and natural part of everyday life in rural Suffolk, and something they can expect to see or come into contact with if they are in the countryside,” said Mr Downing.

“With nearly 47,000 firearm and shotgun certificates on issue in Norfolk and Suffolk, this region has a very strong shooting tradition.

“First of all I take them through the statistics and show how many people use shotguns or rifles for shooting game or deer, or for controlling pests such as rabbits and pigeons. I discuss how particular aspects of shooting are conducted, especially those activities which take place at odd hours of the day or night such as lamping for rabbits, as it is these things which are often misunderstood and which frequently cause members of the public to alert the police.

“I then show them a range of different firearms and ammunition in regular use for game shooting, clay shooting, wildfowling, pest control and deer management. They can handle the firearms if they wish and see that, in responsible hands, the guns are perfectly safe.”

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PC Bryant said: “This is vital training for new recruits, as it gives them a real understanding of how firearms are part of everyday life in rural locations. It is important these officers get an understanding of how guns are used in the countryside, and why, before they begin working in rural areas and come in to contact with those who use, or rely upon, them on a daily basis.”