Well, that’s the conference over. A lot of further detail on what happened is up on this thread on boards.ie, so I won’t duplicate it here, save this:
…I’m of the opinion that people (not necessarily me, and I’d prefer it if there were a lot more doing it) showing up at these things and blogging them like that is somewhat akin to having a boil on your posterior lanced. It’s a pain in the rear end while it’s going on, but the end result is that everything’s a little bit better afterwards because then everyone knows what’s happening, feels more invested in the whole process, and we generally see better results and less muppetry. (I say generally, because life is full of very specific muppets )
Anyway, today was not a shouty day. Almost the entire shooting and hunting community was represented (and those not officially represented had significant people present to hold up their ends, like the team coach for the IPSA teams for example, who was there for another body but was still a friendly face). And almost every state body was represented as well. And problems were openly and straightforwardly discussed, sometimes a little more clearly than others yes, but discussed nonetheless. No-one shouted. No-one banged the table, metaphorical or otherwise. Everyone stayed in the same room. Everyone put forward viewpoints and everyone else listened. This despite the fact that I know several of the people in that room wouldn’t have urinated on each other were they on fire only a few years ago.
Now, nothing got decided. Make no mistake there. This wasn’t a “let’s decide how to do X, Y and Z” day. This was very much a talkaboutit day. And it succeded enormously in that respect, and even now it’s continuing to do so – as we speak, the DoJ and Gardai and NARGC and NTSA and SSAI and a dozen other groups are sitting down to dinner and drinks and they’ll chat and schmooze and network and get facetime and whatever other buzzword you use to describe it. And that is how you fix stuff. Not sexy, not dramatic, and generally noone feels like they got exactly what they wanted, but everyone can live with the end result. People met at this, they listen to the stuff presented, they put forward things they’ve been thinking about, and then they go away and think about what they’ve heard and a solution gradually forms and bubbles up through their respective associations and through the FCP and pretty soon we have a comprimise consensus and then we get to actually go and do things. Like run matches or actually – gasp – shoot!
And some of the things that came out today were genuine sea changes being publicly expressed. Noel Clarke’s talk had quite a few eyes discretely popping as he said in public things that we’ve “known” the Gardai would never say for as long as I’ve been shooting and for longer for quite a few others. Nothing was shot down – one person one licence (doing my bit against sexism there ) was discussed and no objection past the technical one of implementation was raised. And this was put forward as an annual thing.
Seriously, does anyone else see this as being as important as I’m thinking it is? An actual, official, annual conference between all the members of the shooting community and the Gardai and the DoJ? How long have we wanted something like this? How many people have broken their backs working towards something like this? How much time and effort and money has gone into trying to get to here? And now we’re seeing it and it’s being acknowledged as a first step, the beginning of a continuing process rather than the end of an experimental trial run that will then be abandoned. That, in and of itself, is a massive, massive leap forward.
Having been in the middle of it for a few years, let me say that I for one am exceptionally happy that the useless shouting and macho posturing is being set to one side as a failed approach and something more productive (if less dramatic and tabloid) is being tried, and is succeeding.