After years of living comfortably, it feels like old British gun brands are getting a much-needed jolt of creativity and excitement. The latest for reinvention is Charles Lancaster, so meet one of the men behind its reinvention… George Juer
Please tell us who you are and who you work for.
My name is George Juer and I am director and co-owner of the Charles Lancaster Group. I have been in the Gun Trade for just short of 20 years, starting with Paul Roberts then with stints at William Evans and the West London Shooting School, before working at Purdey in the gun sales team for almost a decade. I relaunched Charles Lancaster Gunmakers with my business partner, Tom Cosby, at the 2021 Game Fair.
The business is essentially new, but we had a fantastic reception at the brand’s relaunch two weeks ago. We already have new guns and rifles in production and preowned gun sales are far exceeding expectations, as are our international sporting agency bookings.
It is difficult to answer this question whilst the business is so young, but if things keep going as they are then we are looking toward a very good first year!
Up to anything new?
We are marketing Charles Lancaster as the “modern” gunmaker. We will be doing lots of things differently and very much trying to bring our gunmaking business into the 21st Century in a manner not seen before in the British Gun Trade, but whilst maintaining all the traditions associated with our name and whilst making sure our guns and rifles stay fully English made. We are modern tradesmen in a modern era and we have been let off the leash!
Stay tuned as we develop our new business and bring Charles Lancaster into the 2020s…
Do you shoot? If so, why? And what?
I’m heavily in to my bird shooting, not just in the UK but around the world. I have been fortunate to travel across several continents looking for the best sport available and I have to say, it’s quite amazing what is out there. For me it is all about the sense of camaraderie and everything that surrounds the shooting itself. The biggest thing I’ve discovered is that a day’s walked up shooting where you don’t even fire the gun can be just as exciting and fun as a large driven day.
Doves in America and Welsh pheasant are my two favourite types of shooting, even though they are at two very opposite ends of the spectrum. I’m not sure I have ever been happier than being with a small group of people and a .410 side-by-side in the West Texas oilfields during a September sunrise.
What are the other loves of your life?
Aviation, my two-year old son, my wife and wine. I put those in alphabetical order on purpose… it would be unfair of me to try and prioritise!
Perhaps taking my family on a helicopter to a shoot where we had a bottle of Gevrey Chambertin for dinner would cover all my bases.
Which other fieldsport/shooting businesses or organisations do you most admire, and why?
This is a really tricky question to answer as most of the businesses I admire the most are one-man/woman operations. As with any sector, bigger organisations can often have too many agendas on the go to be truly effective, whereas I find some of the individuals in business for themselves within our trade are so hard-working and so committed to what they do that it impresses me more than anything else. The sad thing is that many of these people work in elements of our industry that are often overlooked or behind the scenes. Big up the little guys, that’s what I say!
What’s the biggest threat currently facing shooting, in your opinion?
Ourselves. It is as simple as that. Internal communication and a joined-up approach to public relations is required before we can even begin to make a plan to move forward. We must include every part of our industry, from hunters and shooters to landowners and gun owners.
Otherwise there are lots of different plans and many of them contradict each other. United we stand, divided we fall.
And for anyone that says we are joined up already, put five random people from the industry around a table with a bottle of whisky and ask them to talk about the future of shooting, then stand back and watch!
What can the government do to support the industry more?
I’m afraid that I am a bit cynical about the government’s stance on the countryside. We live in an urban world full of urban votes, so I think it’s up to us to make sure the government doesn’t work against us rather than making sure that they do work with us. I know that sounds a bit “glass half empty”, but in reality all it does is bring us back to my previously mentioned joined-up approach to public relations.
What’s your favourite shooting read? (could be a cookbook, magazine, poems whatever. Tell us why you like it)
“Bird Brain” by Guy Kennaway.
Basil has shot over 41,000 birds in his life and so when he dies he comes back as a pheasant. But did he die or was he murdered?
Can Buck, his gundog, find out the truth and will Basil avoid flying over the line of guns on the next day’s shooting?
I’m not sure I need to say any more than that… this book is hilarious!
And the best bit of kit you ever bought?
A Charles Lancaster bespoke gun or rifle, of course! Ok, on a serious note, and I can’t believe I am going to plug another company’s product here, it has to be Purdey’s “Vatersay” cape.
This is undoubtedly the best garment I have ever worn out shooting. It is not the cheapest product on the market, but it is worth every single penny. You get full freedom of movement and you will be the driest gun in the line on the wettest day of the year.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself or your business that we might not know…
My real name isn’t George. And the third generation Charles Lancaster wasn’t called Charles Lancaster… he was called Henry Thorn and he changed his name to Charles Lancaster when he bought the business!
If you could only eat one kind of soup for the rest of your life, what flavour would it be?
New York Strip Steak soup. But hold the soup.