Use ‘em or Lose ‘em

Russ Dou­glas says - use your lo­cal gun shop, or risk los­ing it

Airgun World - - Contents -

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.

VCR LEG­IS­LA­TION

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.

RFD TRANS­FERS

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.

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