The Big Interview: Peter Glenser (BASC)
This month, I spoke to Peter Glenser, Chairman of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), and regular contributor to The Shooting Gazette and other shooting publications. Often referred to as the UK’s leading firearms barrister, Peter plays a major role in firearm legislation, education, and recreation.
He has been described as one of the most respected and trusted defence barristers in cases involving firearms. Fifty-three-year-old Peter Glenser studied Law at the University of Southampton and qualified as a barrister in 1993. With personal experience of firearms and the countryside, he was soon acknowledged as an authority in this area of law.
I asked Peter if he’d had a job before entering the legal profession.
“Several and varied; I worked in sales and property and a few other things whilst I thought about what to do with my life. I spent a very enjoyable season working in Val d’Isère, in the French Alps, doing all sorts of stuff like cleaning, cooking, and maintenance, in exchange for a free ski pass. When I came back, I got a job working for a solicitor and decided my future was in law.”
Starting At The BASC
Peter was elected onto the BASC council in 2009, and has been chairman since May 2016.
“I became involved through the firearms department, which is staffed by experts in firearms and firearm law. Its purpose is to advise government, to advise and assist police forces, and, of course, to offer first-rate firearms advice to BASC members. Last year was a record for the department in that it dealt with more than 10,000 enquiries from members for assistance. That demand shows no sign of abating, but is evidence that members value the service. BASC is the only organisation in the UK that provides a team of full-time staff to deal with firearms enquiries.”
BASC began life in 1908 as the Wildfowlers’ Association of Great Britain and Ireland (WAGBI), to help and defend wildfowling – both as a profession and a sport. In 1981, WAGBI took on the role of being a single representative body for shooting sports, and the name was changed to the British Association for Shooting and Conservation.
Peter explained what the BASC does:
“Our job is to ensure balanced comment in the media, continued opportunities to go shooting, all-party backing for shooting, a strong and unified voice for shooting, and it ensures that high standards are maintained.”
Peter is a quarry shooter (“No, I don’t think I’ve ever entered a target-shooting completion…”). A keen deerstalker and grouse shooter, he’s also rather useful in the kitchen. His culinary inspiration comes from his sister, Helen (“a serious foodie”), and his good friend, the UK’s most prominent game chef, Mike Robinson. Mike was recently named as BASC’s first food ambassador.
“I’m very keen on cooking with venison – ounce for ounce it has less fat than a skinned chicken breast, so we tend to have venison spaghetti bolognese, venison meatballs, venison en croûte, venison steaks … It’s full of B vitamins, zinc, iron, selenium, omega 3 … Basically, it’s a really healthy food!”
Peter’s shooting companion is Finn, an eight-year-old liver-coloured, flat-coated retriever, described by his master as “the worst-behaved dog in history”, yet “a tireless and enthusiastic worker – when he puts his mind to it”.
Although Finn has been known to display flashes of brilliance in his work, he is easily distracted by the ladies of his species.
“He prefers chercher les femmes to finding the pheasants! And he’s not above having a dominance competition with other males; as a result, he’s not always welcomed enthusiastically at driven shoots. He’s also a bit of a thief.”
Finn’s favourite lady is a lurcher called Twiglet, who belongs to Georgia, Peter’s teenage daughter. There’s no doubt, however, about who is top dog in this relationship. “The sad truth is that she outsmarts him most of the time!”
So how and when did Peter get into shooting?
“I was introduced to shooting at school. I loved it. I belonged to the Sea Scouts and then the CCF, and a passion for shooting in all its forms probably started there. This is why I am so keen to develop schemes that get youngsters shooting from an early age. Last summer, BASC provided a coaching line at the Essex International Scout and Girl Guide Jamboree. We coached almost 6,000 youngsters to shoot clays, and it was just so rewarding to see them queuing at the gates. It was the most popular event at the Jamboree, and proof that shooting can engage young minds if you can get it in front of them.”
As a child, was Peter allowed his own gun?
“I badgered my parents for an air rifle, but they were initially reluctant to let me have one. Anyway, I suppose it must have been apparent my interest wasn’t going to wane. They eventually let me have my first air rifle when I was about 12 – a Webley Hawk Mk II.”
Does Peter have a favourite gun?
“My favourite shotgun is the Scottish Round Action – so a Dickson or a McKay Brown. I’d love either! I’m lucky enough to own my favourite rifle – a Rigby .275. ”
Finally, I asked Peter about his proudest shooting moment. There was no hesitation.
“It was when my daughter, Georgia, shot her first grouse. She was twelve, and we were walking up at Dorback in Inverness-shire. It was the first time she’d been allowed cartridges rather than just carrying an empty .410, and the bird is now stuffed and has pride of place at home.”
To learn more about the work of the BASC, head to their official website.