For some time bowhunting, and indeed archery as we know it, has been under threat from the anti-hunting, anti-weapons lobbies. They perceive archery as part of an unhealthy "weapons culture" on route to a growing "guns culture" and they want the purchase of bows & arrows, and hunting, to be at least as tightly regulated as shooting and the purchase of guns and ammunition.
The Greens and Antis use graphic images of arrow-shot native wildlife to punctuate emotive claims of extreme cruelty, and their demands for an end to hunting in all its forms, whether on public or on private lands.
These claims are beginning to win-over the public, and this is due in no small part to the deafening silence of archery’s sundry peak organisations, which appear to have no strategy to counter misleading and uninformed claims and media reports.
Now that the culturally intolerant Antis have had what they no-doubt perceive to be a ‘win’ in the form of the abolition of Game Council NSW, and the suspension of all hunting on public lands, we can expect them to redouble their efforts to draw our culture and practices into disrepute.
An example of the success of the Anti's smear campaigns to date is manifest in the fact that bowhunting will not be included in the NSW Government’s proposed trial of hunting in 12 selected National Parks, scheduled to commence in October 2013.
I emphasise – bowhunters have been specifically excluded from the proposed trial of hunting in National Parks.
Field Archery and Bowhunting have lacked effective representation for far too long. We desperately need a strong and articulate voice, along with a public relations and education strategy. Above all we need a plan to ensure the equitable inclusion of our culture and activities in all discussions and in all trials affecting us, now and into the future.
Should we fail in this objective, bowhunting and field archery will continue to serve as the silent pawns of those who wish to cast hunting in a negative light, and as a convenient and graphic scapegoat for cynical, opportunistic governments that wish to curry favour with an impressionable public that has only negative imagery upon which to form its opinions.
As a first step in achieving our goal of robust representation, a meeting will convene in Sydney on August 21st to inaugurate the first Field Archers & Bowhunters (FAB) division of the Shooters and Fishers Party.
The proposed FAB will act as a voice for archers and bowhunters within the Party, and as a ready reference group and source of expert advice for Shooters and Fishers Party representatives. Affiliation with the FAB will in no way diminish Shooters and Fishers Party members’ right or capacity to “have a say" in the full spectrum of outdoors/recreational activities the Party seeks to represent, preserve and expand, nor will it inhibit participation in any of the Party’s other activities.
It will, however, create robust lines of communication and consultation between key stakeholders and the Party machine.
If you are a current member of the Shooters and Fishers Party, or if you have been thinking about joining and would like to lend your support to the FAB, you are invited to attend the inaugural meeting in Sydney on August 21st. The meeting is supported by Shooters and Fishers Party MPs Robert Brown and Robert Borsak who have confirmed their attendance.
To register your wish to attend and for further information, please contact me (Garry Mallard) at email@example.com as soon as possible.
It is important to stress that the meeting will be open only to Shooters and Fishers Party members and those wishing to join the Party. Committee/executive positions on the FAB will be filled by Party members on the night. Party membership forms will be available at the meeting and you are strongly encouraged to join the Shooters and Fishers Party as soon as possible, regardless of whether you will attend the inaugural FAB meeting.
Make no mistake, we stand at the precipice and the ground beneath us is far from firm. The future of our culture and practices may still be in our hands, but if we fail to act now; if we leave it to someone else to speak and lobby on our behalf while we sit idly by, we will have no-one to blame but ourselves when the bow & arrow buyback begins.