Taking our Quick Quiz this month is Ewen Steel, who works for Outfit International UK Ltd, who own the brands Harkila & Seeland…

How’s business?

We have two great brands sitting at the top of the market, with a superb backup unit in Denmark and here in the UK that give second-to-none service to our retailers. Now that the season is in full swing we are seeing confidence growing in the market which is turning into a fantastic uplift in orders. Long may it continue.

Up to anything new?

We are developing a range of clothing from Harkila called the ‘Estate Collection’. This collection is designed specifically for the UK market to suit the unique style of shooting that we have in the UK. The collection includes both shooting and casual clothing styles for both on and off the shooting field. Our designers are working closely with Gore Tex, Clim8, Primaloft and other top-end suppliers to get the newest and best materials to keep Harkila at the top end of the market.

Do you shoot? If so, why? And what?

Yes, I shoot regularly throughout the season. I am a member of three syndicates and get to shoot with some great friends and test my skills on Partridge, Pheasant and Duck several days a month throughout the season. I am very lucky to be able to shoot across the UK in many different areas and terrains enjoying superb company in some fantastic surroundings.

Aside from shooting, what are the loves of your life?

Clearly my first love is my amazing wife, who is head of Design and R&D at Harkila. I can safely say without contradiction that she is the brains and the beauty of this partnership. I am seriously punching above my weight.  

When I have time my favourite pastimes are playing bagpipes and riding my Ducati. Outside the shooting season I enjoy many days Salmon fishing on some amazing Scottish rivers. We had a trip to Norway cancelled at short notice this year, I hope to get that adventure rescheduled next year.

Which other fieldsport/shooting businesses or organisations do you most admire, and why?

I admire the organisations that constantly fight to protect our way of life in the countryside and our chosen sports. If we do not support these organisations our way of life, and our businesses are all going to be badly affected going forward.   

What’s the biggest threat facing shooting, in your opinion?

People in the media, both social media and mainstream, who have an opinion about what we do and how we do it without doing their research first. They tend to publish sometimes ill-informed articles just because they don’t like what we do, but clearly have not tried to understand why it is done in the first place or why we do things the way we do, e.g. vermin control or deer management.

I also think there is a section of the shooting community who do not do us any favours by constantly chasing bigger bag days and then publishing pictures of the bag. This is just fodder for the antis, in my humble opinion. I know there will be those out there that then raise the question, ‘What is an acceptable bag?’

What can the government do to support the industry more?

Listen to the experts when they are given the advice and answers to the questions they ask and not make decisions based on what votes they will get.

What’s your favourite shooting read?

I was given a copy of Tales of the Old Gamekeepers by Brian P. Martin some years ago. This book is full of the stories from the working lives of old gamekeepers. The youngest in the book is 65 and the eldest 95. It tells of their daily chores, how they ran their days, shows extracts from their own diaries and drawings. It is an amazing insight into the lives of these custodians of the countryside.

And what was the best bit of kit you ever bought?

Best thing I ever paid for was a properly fitted gun (thank you, Vincent Chapuis) followed by professional shooting lessons many years ago, although some may say I should ask for a refund!

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself or your organisation that we might not know…

I played the bagpipes for Queen Elizabeth at her garden party in Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh a few years ago.

If you could only eat one kind of soup for the rest of your life, what flavour would it be?

It would be tomato.  


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