Future Publishing, owners of a range of shooting magazines including Sporting Rifle, Airgun Shooter and industry voice, Gun Trade News has launched its own series of shooting awards. The Great British Shooting Awards 2019 offer up a number of categories for readers of their magazines to consider, helpfully providing a shortlist of candidates. According to the publishers the initial list of the products for consideration came from what it described as “trade nominations”, which were then combed through by the panel of judges and thereafter each shortlist produced. It would be interesting to know exactly what that process of trade nomination actually involved, but even more so the criteria by which products made their way onto a shortlist. For example, taking the shooting apparel category, the five products are undoubtedly worthy candidates, but the question arises was each tested in the field by the judges – that being the only practical way of seriously evaluating a garment’s performance? It would seem unlikely. And just as worrying is the publisher’s trumpeting of the public’s role in these awards. Although readers of the magazines are invited to go to the Great British Shooting Awards website to vote, there is a very strong hint that whilst their votes may well influence the outcome, it will be the judges who have the final say or as Gun Trade News explained in its December issue: “The public can have their say by voting until January 31st, after which the judges will review the results before the winners are announced”.
Awards of this kind are always open to the often unfair criticism that both the shortlists and the final winners are influenced by the magazines’ commercial interests, namely advertisers making up a disproportionately large part of the final selection. In this regard Future does not appear to have helped itself very much, because taking the Thermal imaging category as an example the main awards sponsor, optics brand Pulsar, garners three of the five product slots shortlisted. That impression of bias is further enhanced by the knowledge that the four other awards partners, all have products included on other shortlists.
We await the outcome of the judges’ deliberations with interest, much as we await any kind of response from Future Publishing to the points raised by this item. In the meantime, those wishing to place their votes can go to www.greatbritishshootingawards.com