At its splendid new home right in the heart of Bisley, the Gun Trade Association celebrates its 130th birthday in great style, as Simon West reports.

© Gun Trade Association 2021

It’s not often the gun trade gets together in force—and very rarely when we don’t need to prioritise customers. So when we gathered the clans at Bisley at the end of September for the GTA’s 130th anniversary event, it was a very special occasion. Despite the weather, 125 members of the trade gathered to witness the opening of our new building, drink fizz provided by Viking Arms and to devour a delicious barbecue kindly sponsored by Browning. 

But that was only the end of the day. As the NRA hooter sounded the opening of the afternoon’s range time, we had five groups out ready to load. On the first range John Rigby & Co was showing off its rifles.

After a reassuring test of the .308 Highland Stalker, members moved on to firing the .375 H&H magnum big-game rifle from a standing position with Hornady ammunition. I’ve never seen such big grins.

Then on to the scored, long-barrelled pistol range, where Oceania Defence offered a choice of four guns. There was plenty of competition and for many it was a completely new experience holding a Section 1 pistol. 

Third was the Mossberg practical shotgun range. For most of us, shotguns are fired from pegs and footwork is all about staying firm in one place. The dynamic shoot provided by the NRA is very different and quite a new challenge. Fire and movement always concentrates the mind and I believe many realised the appeal of this growing discipline. 

As a woodland stalker, I rarely take a shot over 100m. So when Accuracy International with its rifles, Edgar Brothers with Daniel Defense and Viking Arms with Ruger appeared with electronic targets at 900m, we knew we were in for something special. The idea of the range package was to offer the trade something new to see and to develop their knowledge to be able to talk to customers. It is to the credit of the systems available that most scored some very respectable hits. 

At the Sportrap stand, GMK brought the Beretta 694 and DT11 and ASI brought Rizzinis and we circulated, having a shoot with each against a variety of different targets. New to some and for others a chance to do a careful comparison of systems. 

None of this would have been possible without the generous support of Gamebore, Hull, Eley Hawk and Shooting Star, which ensured the barrels stayed warm all afternoon. 

We are now very lucky to have the association’s HQ at Bisley. It’s great to have the GTA alongside the NRA, CPSA and NSRA, all housed on the same site but to have the National Shooting Centre, with all its diverse and challenging ranges, we couldn’t feel more at home. The building is there for meetings, social, valuations and so on. Simply let us know if you would like to book it. Likewise, the magnificent 12x6m stretch tent—perfect for shows or parties.

So, back to the barbecue. The gun trade is a wonderfully diverse community in terms of whether you are an importer, retailer or outworker and, of course, your discipline—shotguns (clay or game), rifles (deer or target/centrefire or air), antiques, Section 5 or deactivation.

Then there are our partners in insurance—thank you PIB for the outstanding prizes—the shooting press (including the GTN Editor), video channels (TSC and TGS), card machine providers (Worldpay), customer finance (Ideal 4 Finance) and others. You were all there. But not enough of you all.

We will do something next year; I hope those who had a good time will come again and that more of you will book to come. We continue to ‘protect, promote and represent’ but being able to exploit the social in association is an important and rewarding part of being in the trade. Stronger together! 


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