In less than a month, nearly 2000 of you have completed our short one-minute survey on your use of the alternatives to lead ammunition. We’d love to hear from many more of you – please complete the survey here.
What have we learned so far?
Looking through your responses, some key themes emerge:
Last season halted your plans
Many of you pointed out that, due to covid restrictions, you spent far less time in the field last season. Some made it clear that they had a lot of lead ammunition to use up, while others hadn’t had the opportunity to properly test the alternatives. There is clearly an appetite to try them when the time is right.
Concern about your guns
Of those unsure about using non-lead cartridges, the biggest concern was whether it would damage their guns. This varied from concerns about old guns (“I shoot with an old English side-by-side made by Purdeys in 1894 with a 65mm breach, I am concerned that steel shot will damage the barrels” and “I am waiting until suitable alternatives are available for old guns”) and the availability of cartridges for specific guns, be they 20 bore, 28 bore or otherwise.
Others had a contrary experience, however, with one respondent reporting that they had sent a 1930 vintage shotgun for a service and was delighted to discover that it was perfectly OK for standard steel shot.
Concern about performance
Many people are also concerned about how steel might perform in comparison to lead. Most of these seem to centre around lethality (“steel shot in my opinion produces far more wounded quarry than lead unless the ranges are dramatically reduced”) and the impact on range. Again, this wasn’t unanimous. Several respondents spoke very fondly of the alternatives, with one stating “I found the steel shot to be excellent. It killed very well, slightly better than lead up to 50 metres.”
Concern about cost
Around a tenth of respondents so far raised fears about the additional costs of non-lead cartridges. Many comments echoed one respondent’s comment that “There needs to be a reduction in the price of alternate cartridges before any meaningful switch will happen” and that “cartridge manufacturers must play a major part in the move from lead to steel”. The manufacturers seem very aware of this and are working hard.
What happens next?
We want to gather as many survey responses as possible before the next shooting season starts. Understanding the barriers to moving away from lead can help inform the conversation about any transition and also guide the cartridge manufacturers in what needs to be done.
Please complete our survey and encourage as many people as you can to do the same at www.gwct.org.uk/leadsurvey.