Deer stalking is apparently the fastest growing fieldsport. According to Home Office figures, there were 11,502 new firearm certificates granted in 2011/12, an increase of 2% from 2010/11 (following a 19% increase from 2009/10 to 2010/11). So, if there are lots of newcomers to shooting and deer stalking in particular, should the DSC 1 become a requirement for obtaining a deer stalking condition on the Firearm Certificate?
What is the purpose of the DSC 1? According to DMQ, "DSC1 is a basic qualification for deer stalkers and managers. It is a largely knowledge based qualification which enables candidates to demonstrate their understanding of basic deer management principles and meat hygiene, and to show competence in shooting at simulated targets."
According to the BDS "To be awarded the Deer Stalking Certificate Level 1 you must demonstrate knowledge and skills in the following areas:
- Deer biology and ecology - The life and reproductive cycles, habitat requirements and behaviour of the six species of wild deer.
- The law - The legal basis for the use of firearms and the culling of wild deer.
- Stalking techniques and taking the shot - A theoretical knowledge of the basis of stalking techniques, points of aim and the reaction of the deer to shot placement.
- Deer identification - An ability to identify the six species of deer normally found in the wild in the UK, being able to distinguish between the male and female of each species in both summer and winter pelage.
- Safety - An ability to safely handle firearms and other tools and equipment in a simulated stalking environment. This includes the use of knives and extraction equipment where appropriate.
- Shooting - An ability to shoot accurately and consistently in a simulated stalking environment.
- Trained Hunter - Knowledge of the inspection of carcasses and the legal requirements enabling an individual to sell venison for human consumption.
I believe that all shooting organisations are opposed to any form of compulsory testing or DSC type qualification in order to obtain an initial grant of a firearm certificate and clearly this is not required under current firearms legislation.
However, thinking specifically about deer stalking, is there a good argument for making a DSC 1 qualification a requirement for obtaining a deer condition on an existing FAC?