Inside the outdoor industry

A poor choice of headline?

Is there an issue with the EOG's recently announced sponsor?

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Handcuffing a fish would be quite difficult I imagine.

The lack of hands presenting the foremost and most obvious problem. Maybe you would just have to resort to ‘fincuffing’. Indeed, even with the presence hands/paws it would be pretty tricky to slap the cuffs on say a rabbit or a…what do people kill for fun these days?

I ask the question because I was somewhat interested to see that the European Outdoor Group had chosen the exhibition IWA OutdoorClassics as a headline sponsor – a headline sponsor, no less – for its European Outdoor Summit in Malmo.

It’s an exhibition which describes itself as “the world-leading specialist trade fair for shooting sports, hunting, outdoor activities equipment and security applications.”

Like a lot of people  (a lot of people in the outdoor sector, I know for sure) I’m not into bloodsports. I’m very much against them actually. So I was a little surprised to see the market’s foremost trade body aligning itself so closely with an exhibition for companies that make money off the back of it.

I’m not daft enough to suppose that companies that this site has a relationship with do not sell into specialist hunting stores. Largely, I would imagine in the US, where it is part of a different culture and much more widespread. Over here in the UK, hunting still very much conjures up images of the “unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable”, and is very much the preserve of a particular section of society. You don’t get many squads from Dalston popping off to their local grouse moor for the weekend.

But again, I appreciate there are some people who don’t have a problem with it. Fair enough. Vive la difference if you really must. Some people even support Arsenal.

Security concerns

On closer examination, however, there is another part to the show which seems a little more alarming – the bit about ‘security applications’. A cursory glance at the exhibition website shows exhibitors that sell firearms, restraints, tasers and other ‘security’ products.

Such as this one: “The JPX is a launcher for an ultra-sharp irritant derived from natural chilli extract – liquid piexol. Unlike known pepper spray aerosol cans, Piexol is “shot” at high speed and as a liquid jet. With force the active ingredient hits, which explains the outstanding stopping effect and the product. The impact similar to a slap, followed by an infernal burning on the skin and mucous membranes. The active substance “capsaicin” contained in the Piexol causes an immediate and reflexive closure of the eyes, mucus formation in the mouth and nose, as well as irritation of the respiratory tract.”

I wonder if that’s the same brand of pepper spray that was used on the people at Standing Rock who were peacefully protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline? A campaign which has had great support from some high profile people and companies in this industry.

Maybe I’m being naive but I would have thought this industry would always have come down on the side of those trying to protect the natural spaces that directly prop up the industry, no?

I thought this was an industry that sold stoves and sleeping bags and other equipment for people who loved nature and liked to get out and have a bit of a walk.

This… doesn’t seem to fit, and I would suggest it is a very questionable and unnecessary choice of sponsor for a body with a great reputation that does brilliant work on behalf of this industry, bringing it into close association with products designed to kill, maim and cause deliberate distress to animals and people.

So, if you’re looking for a sparky debate for this year’s conference…..

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