Can you shoot high pheasants with steel cartridges?

high pheasants

high pheasants - Credit: Archant

We speak to individuals within the shooting industry to see how they think the switch to lead-alternatives may affect high bird shooting

The phasing out of lead shot and the switch to the most affordable alternative - steel - has worried those who enjoy shooting high birds. We chat to some individuals within the shooting industry to get their take on this particular aspect of the lead debate.

The problem with the main lead alternative – steel – is that it is not considered effective at the longer ranges associated with shooting high birds, with many fearing this side of the sport will inevitably be impacted.

Marcus at Simpson Brothers says: “I love my tall bird shooting and I do think this side of the sport will be impacted. But at the top end of the market, if ammunition costs double, that might mean spending £600 or more per 1,000 shells instead of £300. When Guns are paying premium prices to shoot top-quality birds, will that be enough to stop them from going shooting? I’m not sure.”

Diggory Hadoke says: “Should steel shot prove, as it might, less effective than lead at the ranges some shooters are currently engaging very high pheasants, there will be a call to reduce these ranges. Will it herald the end of ‘extreme pheasant’? Time will tell as shooters experiment with guns and ammunition at these ranges and find out what is viable and what isn’t.

“Shooting has changed over the years and adapted to offer different challenges to the experienced and skilled Gun. ‘Extreme’ bird shooting is one, relatively recent, development. However, there are other ways to test the skill of a shooting line, other than pushing the birds ever higher. Perhaps we will see more innovations from estates regarding the type of drives they organise and the way they present birds in light of the new reality, should there be a necessity in changing from lead to steel for most shooting situations.”

Another industry source suggested we needed to change our entire approach to the sport, saying: “In the old days, people shot within their capability and the range of their gun and ammunition. We need to see a return to that and for shooters to be reeducated to shoot at ranges their guns and cartridges will work at, not this extreme stuff.”