Our new regular quiz where we ask a leading industry figure some daft and not-so-daft questions and find out a bit more about them.
Simon West OBE is a familiar and friendly face to everyone in the gun trade, he’s been running the Gun Trade Association for the last two years after answering an advert in Tackle & Gun magazine. He joined the GTA in 2018 after a career in the Army specialising in gun technology, procurement and strategic communication.
He has also run his own RFD business since 1997 making live firing cannon. Simon represents the Trade and Members’ interests in the political and regulatory environments. He deals with legal queries and plans the Association’s activities to protect and promote the Trade.
Simon will be joining Gun Trade News from next issue as a regular columnist, giving us the inside line on the gun trade and Westminster.
Please tell us who you are and who you work for?
Simon West. I’m the Executive Director of the Gun Trade Association
After 130 years, the GTA has proved it’s got an important role to play—and promoting, protecting and representing the trade is as important as ever. As a trade we have done well to weather the storm of Covid-19 and as an Association we have got new members joining every week.
Up to anything new?
Having recruited the wonderful Lin Oxley to the team earlier in the year, our membership services are growing by the day. We are set to offer our members the best package of benefits ever developed to specifically support the industry.
Do you shoot? If so, why? And what?
My passion is deer management. I have been involved with management on the Ministry of Defence estate for over 30 years as well as other private land. Depending on quarry, I tend to choose between my .243 and .308 left-handed Heym rifles but I’ve recently invested in a RPA woodland stalker that is set to become the favourite. Its 1 in 10 twist is ideal for moving onto copper. I’m also a member of a wonderful walked-up shoot on Salisbury Plain which gives me the chance to exercise my various old English shotguns—even the 1839 Westley Richards muzzle loader.
Aside from shooting, what are the great loves of your life?
Over the years I’ve become rather obsessed with cannon and started making live-firing bronze guns 20 years ago.
Which other fieldsport/shooting businesses or organisations do you most admire, and why?
I am very privileged to be involved with the Worshipful Company of Gunmakers and through that have had the opportunity to meet some incredibly talented craftsmen and women in the art of traditional gunmaking. British gunmakers have a world-wide reputation for making the finest guns—something to celebrate.
What’s the biggest threat currently facing shooting, in your opinion?
Sadly, I think complacency is our biggest problem. In March this year in England and Wales there were 586,351 people registered as holding firearms or shotgun certificates. Add to that the Scottish and Northern Ireland figures and the estimated 4 million homes with airguns represents a far bigger lobby than we might expect. We have got to ensure that our voices are heard when shooting comes under threat.
What can the government do to support the industry more?
We are lucky that the current government have some understanding of shooting and an interest in the countryside. That said, they probably under-estimate the numbers involved and how important it is to the rural economy. I am working to ensure that our industry doesn’t face unnecessary restrictions and is supported to bring new talent through apprenticeship schemes.
What’s your favourite shooting read?
My favourite book is W W Greener’s 1881 book ‘The Gun’. It’s full of detail on topics that are still helpful today—even the lead debate.
And the best bit of kit you ever bought?
The Land Rover Defender—transport, store, even accommodation.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself or your business that we might not know…
I strangely enjoy long distance swimming
If you could only eat one kind of soup for the rest of your life, what flavour would it be?