Monday 22 October 2007

The Wild Gourmet effect

"Shooting needs its own Ray Mears"

Several shooters have commented to me about the new flush of game cookery programmes on British TV. You can hardly turn on the telly now without seeing some earnest-looking chap (or girl) walking out with a gun, shooting some wildlife, chopping it up and eating it - all the while explaining why it's the natural, sustainable and tasty thing to do.

Great! This all helps to get our message across, and portray shooting in a good light. The fact that TV editors are prepared to let this happen proves that there's been a mood change. Shooting to eat is acceptable again. Carrying and using sporting guns is acceptable again.

But there's something even more important going on here.

People tend to think in stereotypes. We all do it. What picture comes into your head when someone says... 'fireman', 'rock star', 'teacher'? Now think hard about that image. Is it accurate? Is it favourable? Are all firemen, rock stars or teachers like that?

Say 'gamekeeper' or 'game shooter' to the average member of the public and they picture a grumpy, arrogant, tweed-clad fool with a gun, killing everything in sight until there's nothing left to kill. It's not fair, but they do.

We need to replace that image with something fit for the 21st centry - and the quickest, most effective way to do that is with TV personalities. Shooting needs its own Ray Mears. We ain't got one yet, but Tommi Miers and Guy Grieve, Channel 4's The Wild Gourmets (pictured above), are the closest we've come so far.

I'd like to think they were the result of some far-thinking PR on the part of the shooting organisations. I suspect, however, it's more of a happy accident.

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