Today (October 1) marks the start of this year’s pheasant season.

To mark the start of the season, the UK’s largest shooting organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) has highlighted the positive impact game shooting has on those who take part.

Glynn Evans, BASC’s head of game and gundogs, said game shooting is not only good for conservation, the countryside and the economy, but that the positive impact it has on people’s wellbeing should not be underestimated.

“Game shooting gives people a chance to get outdoors in a social and communal atmosphere and that is significant not just physically but mentally too – particularly after the difficult 18 months the Covid pandemic has presented us with,” he said.

The benefits are backed up in a new scientific paper into the social, mental and wellbeing attributes of those who participate in game shooting.

The paper concludes that participation in shooting and shooting-related activities, such as beating and picking-up, results in a significantly better mental wellbeing than the national average.

The findings are derived from a PhD thesis undertaken at the Institute for Social Innovation and Impact at the University of Northampton.

Items that scored high included reduced loneliness, strong identity, a sense of purpose, social support networks, physical exercise, spending time in nature and a strong rural and/or cultural heritage.

The findings were linked to age, with older generations benefitting more from the physical and social side of shooting.

The authors also concluded that shooting aided the wider society, as those with a better physical condition and mental wellbeing would be less of a burden on the public health service.

Glynn Evans continued: “This scientific paper is further validation of something that people who take part in shooting activities are well aware of. Getting outdoors in a social and communal atmosphere is significant not just physically but mentally.”

Over the coming weeks pheasant will join other game meats such as partridge, grouse and venison on supermarket shelves. A healthy source of protein, wild game is a first-class alternative to farmed meats.

Annette Woolcock, BASC’s head of wild game, said: “As the season gets underway, there will be plenty of affordable, locally-sourced and delicious game meat available. Game meat is healthy, highly nutritious and, above all, delicious.

"Low in fat and high in vitamins and minerals, game meat is becoming the go-to source of protein.”