The Lead Ammunition Group website is up and running - so we can see the workings behind this small band with the power to deal shooting a crippling blow.
The first thing that struck me was the devious, misleading tone of the sh*t-stirring letter that RSPB and WWT sent to Defra in October 2009:
That, to my mind, vindicates BASC's assertion that trouble was coming anyway, and the best they could do was join the process and try to minimise any damage to shooting.
The shooting industry's reply, signed by John Swift, seems like a sensible response; it states clearly that they don't believe there's a case for restricting lead shot, and suggests that the industry's own Technical Working Group is already doing all the looking-into that's needed:
Significantly, the letter is signed by all the major shooting organisations - including those that are busy slagging off BASC now.
...and then back comes a letter from the minister, stating that he's setting up the Lead Ammunition Group and would you kindly let us know if you'd like to be involved. To which the only sensible answer is "Yes".
I'm not always 100% behind BASC's stance or methods, but on this one I honestly can't see what else they could have done. If shooters are looking for someone to throw insults at, I'd suggest starting with the RSPB, whose zero-tolerance precautionary principles are applied somewhat selectively.
Talking of the RSPB, have you noticed the slick way their PR machine has slid into action over the case of Lydd Airport?
The new government announced they would block any extension to Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports, leading to speculation that smaller airports like Lydd might receive extra traffic. And hey presto, the RSPB discovers a pair of nesting purple herons, about to raise the first ever purple heron chicks to be hatched in the UK. And, sniff, they could be threatened by the airport development. Brilliant! Cue widespread media coverage, and a crippling blow dealt to the developers' plans.
Now don't get me wrong. I care about as much for airport developments as I do purple herons. I'm just in awe of the PR and marketing skills of organisations like the RSPB.
Just yesterday I received a text on my mobile telling me breathlessly "There's still time to save nature" - all I need do is click the link and sign their cloying Letter to the Future (check it out, it's like a parody of a Miss World candidate's speech). Most people, of course, aren't cynical, miserable old gits like me and will happily sign up, feeling they're showing their support for a sunnier, more wildlife friendly future. The number of signatures will, ultimately, be used as a club to beat concessions from the government (I suspect that won't be so easy with the new lot, but time will tell).
Meanwhile, shooting always seems to be on the back foot, reacting to challenges - defending ourselves against the attack on lead shot is just the latest example.
Should we - could we - think bigger, set our sights higher? Is there any reason why 'hunters' shouldn't become the voice of conservation in the UK. After all, we look after more of it than the RSPB do. For now. I suspect they've got a plan for that one too.