Like it or not, the phasing out – or in more brutal terms, the banning of the use of lead in ammunition – is a reality to deal with. Notwithstanding the objections and perplexities of hunters, shooters, scientists and the whole industry as well, the mixture of politics and ideology today prevailing in the Western world is prevailing, even going as far as to recommend to include lead metal in the list of “hazardous substances” whose use must be specifically authorized. This for the good of the environment, wildlife and human health, of course.
From FACE: a useful guidance for hunters and shooters using lead-free ammunition as alternative, where legally required
As FACE, the European Federation for Hunting and Conservation, points out on its website, “Lead shot has been phased out for hunting over wetlands (concretely: at, on and in close proximity to defined wetlands after AEWA definition) in most European Union (EU) countries (except Ireland, Poland, Romania and Slovenia). Lead shot is also prohibited for hunting in Denmark, the Netherlands and the Flemish part of Belgium.”
Moreover, “currently, there is a new European Union (EU) REACH regulation coming into effect in February 2023 on the use of lead shot over wetlands. A new REACH regulation on all lead in hunting and outdoor shooting is under development”. The phasing out of lead shot for hunting over wetlands is also a priority for the African Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA).
That's why FACE offers a useful guidance on the current restrictions on the use of lead ammunition in the EU and UK. At a glance, you'll be able to know what the restrictions are in each different country. Moreover, FACE also provides precious information on how to address potential concerns about, for example, the differences between lead and non-lead ammunition the humane dispatch of quarry, ballistics and safety issues.
“The purpose of this FACE website is to show European hunters how the risks from lead ammunition can be managed. We recognize that there is no identical substitute for lead, but the non-lead ammunition can work just as effectively if hunters and shooters follow some basic rules,” they say.
Final conclusion about the current situation of the ban on lead in ammunition
Yes, there are many new limitations for the use of lead ammo in Europe in effect now and others are planned like the limitation in outdoor shooting. But the battle with ECHA and EU Commission is not over yet. Why? Because there is no equal substitution for lead in ammunition. That’s why all involved parties are fighting for acceptable regulations to find a kind of best compromise for environment, animal welfare, shooters, hunters, humans and the industry. And we should not forget that also the next level of complexity on this topic is around the corner: the ban of lead in ammunition would be a serious risk for our military security. Why? Here are all aspects in our article.
In the end, it’s a political decision. ECHA gives the recommendation to EU-Commission and most likely at the end of 2023 the political process of decision making will start. Each member state has just one vote. ECHA has already sent its drafts according to REACH for Annex XIV (list of materials, which should be fully banned, e.g. like lead) and Annex XVII (list of restricted materials for special use) to the EU Commissions and the first reaction is expected for the next weeks.
We will keep you updated about the process and we will try to contribute our share to inform stakeholders, politicians, interest-groups and the wide public about the consequences of a “wrong decision” in respect to lead in ammo. And please let’s not forget: alternative materials like copper and zinc are already on the watchlist. And then?