Little Acorns: Alcatraz Gun Company

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Nothing do to with prisons, the Alcatraz Gun Company is a North Wales gun shop founded on a clothing background and a grounding of experience, finds Wes Stanton.

Well-known FITASC Sporting enthusiast Bob Carter has just opened up a new gun shop in his home town of Pwllheli, North Wales. A familiar face around the clay shooting circuit both at home and internationally, Bob is perhaps best known for his generous sponsorship of top shooters including Stuart Clarke, Carl Bloxham and Mickey Rouse through his ‘Alcatraz’ brand. The name is taken from his clothing shop in Pwllheli – seeing as his shop is in Gaol Street and used to be the local lock-up for ne’er-do-wells, Alcatraz seems quite apt.

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And now the Alcatraz Gun Company has opened its doors for business. It began trading just before Christmas, and Bob, together with business partner Dougie Lorimer, plans to cater for the local game shooting community as well as serving the needs of his friends in the clay shooting world further afield.

“I started shooting through enjoying a corporate day courtesy of Midland Bank,” explains Bob. “I met Carl Bloxham, had lessons with him and become a mad keen sporting and FITASC shooter in the early 1990s.

“My clothing company, Alcatraz, was the first business in Wales to sell denim – in 1971, when I bought the shop and got going, it was so popular, it was like selling bread! That meant I was later in the privileged and fortunate position to be able to help support our top shooters when I came into the sport, and Alcatraz sponsored some of the big names with brands like Timberland, Gant, Caterpillar and Levi. I’m proud to say that we’ve won the three-man club team gold medal at FITASC Sporting quite a few times.

DSC01511002“I’ve now pretty much retired out of the clothes trade,” continues Bob, “and I wanted another interest. My partner, Doug Lorimer, and I know all the local shoots, and there’s no gun shop within 30 miles of us. We’ll be servicing the needs of local syndicate and clay shoots, and Doug is a whizz with servicing and repairs, particularly on the
rifle side.”

So will we see guns alongside fashionable garments on the racks of the Alcatraz Gun Company? “We’re going to stay focused on the gun trade,” laughs Bob. “You can’t buy a gun online. Local people will buy guns, at the right prices, from someone they know and trust, and that’s where we fit in. My vision has been to create a user-friendly shop, with a touch of Holland & Holland but where locals can also come in and feel right at home.”

‘You can’t put an old head on young shoulders’ is an adage that remains true, but Bob recognises the need for youthful enthusiasm, as well as his experience in business and Doug’s technical expertise with gunsmithing. The pair have employed 22-year-old Adrian Garner as shop manager, an ex-RAF serviceman whose father is a local gamekeeper. He has been shooting since he was eight years old, and is rapidly becoming a skilled riflestocker under Dougie’s tutelage.

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