Use ‘em or Lose ‘em
Russ Douglas says - use your local gun shop, or risk losing it
Support your local gun shops, warns Russ Douglas, or they’ll be gone
Following on from last month’s Scottish airgun licensing exclusive, I thought you’d like to know what it means to us airgunners ‘oop north’, from my first-hand experiences, and those of my friends, and from speaking to five gun shop owners in the north/NE of Scotland. In the more populated Scottish central belt, the outlook post-licensing should be slightly rosier, but shops up here don’t get regular foot traffic like an airgun centre – Blackpool Air Rifles, for example.
Day to day, we take our licence along if buying or selling an airgun in a shop, and most of us take colour photocopies any time we travel with our guns, whether to the range or a permission – along with shooting insurance for the latter. It’s just common sense.
Frankly, up here the legislation has devastated airgun sales. Shops still sell the latest from budget brands to top marques like Air Arms, Daystate and Weihrauch, but only if a customer orders them in. Most that I’ve visited have run their airgun stock right down, Aberdeen: A few new budget Stoegers available. and some have airgun displays almost unchanged for the last year due to low sales.
At the same time as the Scottish airgun licensing came into effect, reducing airgun business at many guns shops by over 90%, the annual RFD licence fee to the shop owner quadrupled. My local gun shop fortunately has angling and firearms/shotgun sales in addition to airguns, but they’ve had to let staff go as a direct result of licensing. Toward the end of 2017, when I popped in to get some pellets and supplies, they’d only sold four airguns that year – and one of those was to me back in January.
Although the licensing legislation currently applies only to Scotland, the whole of the UK now has to comply with rules about face-toface airgun sales, and this is due to the new VCR (Violent Crime Reduction) legislation. So, when buying an airgun, you can order it from your retailer of choice, but they transfer it by courier to your local RFD, from where you then collect it. They can still be ordered online, but now must be collected from a licensed retailer.
This means your purchase price will include the courier charge, but the receiving RFD charges you a ‘nominal fee’ for doing the paperwork. Common knowledge has it that the RFD fee is £25, but I recommend you shop around to avoid getting stung. RFD charges up here in northern Scotland vary from £25 to £55, and some will charge per collection, and others per airgun.
I spoke to several friendly RFDs recently, and they told me that they do charge the fee, but will reduce it or even absorb it themselves, depending upon your custom. So, if you have to purchase your airgun elsewhere, at least buy your pellets, targets, scope etc., locally at the same time. Support your local gun shop RFD.
One cool alternative if there’s no local gun shop, and you already know exactly what you want, is we now have some retailers, e.g. Pellpax, The
Airgun Centre, and Pownalls, offering a very competitive rate of around £20 for a door-todoor courier service, plus RFD transfer fee where applicable, all in one. Consider me impressed, and I’m sure they’re doing good business thanks to this offer. A friend and fellow GARC member, Ken, recently collected his new Airgun Centre HW110 locally, without handing over a penny by way of separate RFD fee. You have to know exactly what you want though, and I wouldn’t visit a gun shop to ‘try before I buy’ and then buy elsewhere. If I take advantage of a shop owner’s valuable time and experience, I’ll return the favour by buying my airgun right there.
Several gun shops will now only accept RFD transfers from other shops, rather than supporting smaller RFDs. I’ve also spoken to some who find they’re picking up the pieces from the lack of post-sales aftercare from such sellers. One dealer has had several rifles handed in for ‘repair’, only to find there were over a dozen pellets jammed down the barrel. The buyers went to their local shop for help, not to the place where they bought the rifle.
BLACKPOOL TO MONTROSE
I’ve enclosed a pic of me collecting my recent BAR order from the very helpful Mike, in my local Montrose RFD. It’s a second-hand Theoben Fenman Evolution, and part-exchanged SIG MCX. Yes, I’ll re-run my HPA-conversion chrono’ and accuracy tests to update you all ASAP. He said the same as Lloyd at BAR. He charges £25, but reduces or waives the transfer fee if the customer’s a regular, or is buying other goods.
By the way, I usually frame my photos better than this, but tripped over just after one was taken with the self-timer – again, and bruised my back whilst demolishing some of Mike’s lovely display. Sorry again for that. As the saying goes, ‘It happens’. Writing articles sometimes comes with its own aches and pains; I am okay, though – the cuts and bruises healed after a few weeks.
Anyway, that’s me for another month. Please remember to support your local gun shop, and as always, enjoy your shooting.
Montrose: Airgun sales decimated, but a friendly service is offered.
… but only a few second-hand airguns …
There are shotguns …
… and a few pistols in stock at least ...
Scant few pistols, thanks to licensing.