SHOOTING generates £200 million a year for the Scottish economy and supports 8,800 jobs, a new report claims as estates prepare for the Glorious 12th.
Economists have calculated 120,000 people took part in the sport in Scotland in 2012/13, many of them visitors to Highland hunting estates spending money and providing vital employment in remote parts of the country.
Public and Corporate Economic Consultants (PACEC) said shooters and those providing shooting services made a total economic contribution of £200 million to Scotland, around ten per cent of the UK total for the industry.
Tim Baynes, director of the Scottish Moorland Group, part of landowners' organisation Scottish Land and Estates, said: "Scotland is a special place for all types of shooting sports, most notably red deer stalking and grouse shooting, which have shaped large parts of the landscape. This new report sets out their important contribution to the rural economy and biodiversity of the UK."
The report was published after the Scottish Government's Land Reform Review Group questioned the economic value of the shooting industry in its final report in May this year.
It suggested that the vast tracts of Scotland devoted to the sport could be more productively used for other things.
The £200m figure from PACEC is higher than an estimated economic impact of £136m for all field sports, including angling, published by the Scottish Government in 2010.
It is dwarfed by the £500m-plus that Visit Scotland says was spent by hikers in 2009, and compares with an estimate of £127m for wildlife tourism from Scottish Natural Heritage.
A spokeswoman for the League Against Cruel Sports suggested guns sports threatened these other outdoor industries.
She said: "Shooting is not good for the economy. The recent report by the Land Reform Review Group stated that devoting large areas of land to shooting estates was not in the public interest, and suggested the Government reform tax and land ownership structures to make shooting estates less socially and economically damaging.
"Aside from the economic arguments, the shooting industry is based on animal cruelty - both in terms of the game birds, and the other animals which are shot and snared in the name of predator control.
"There's no excuse for causing animal suffering in the name of entertainment, and this is something the report completely fails to address."