The Great British Shooting Show: OX Country with John Allison
"300 exhibitors, from air rifles and different types of knives to shotguns and rifles"
The Great British Shooting Show is held over a massive 450,000 sq ft., and visitors will be able to see the latest from thousands of products, covering all disciplines including shotguns, rifles, airguns, pistols, optics, knives, vehicles, specialist clothing and a vast array of shooting accessories
The show’s warm and friendly atmosphere has made it the most popular event of its kind for shooters to meet up and find out all the latest news and information, so we thought it was only right that OX Country got some insider knowledge about what to expect from organiser John Allison.
Can you tell us what people can look forward to at your show?
The British Shooting Show is a pure shooting show, as opposed to events that take place around the country which are called game fairs. Game fairs are family days out where you or I could watch people give a demonstration and there'll be a few doggies running around, a bit of equine, maybe a funfair. That's not the British Shooting Show. The British Shooting Show is indoors, in 5 enormous halls, and there'll be 300 exhibitors, from air rifles and different types of knives to shotguns and rifles. We also have a small element that, provided they are creating what their own country products, we will allow them to exhibit at the show, but that's the only area that we do allow people from outside the shooting industry to exhibit. For example, if you're producing a deck shoe, you've got no chance, but if you're producing proper boots that would be used by the shooting fraternity, then we would allow you in as a shoe manufacturer. If you're a clothing manufacturer then the same remit falls in: Is it a high-street product or is it something that you or I would use out in the field in country pursuits?
Is it fair to say that your shooting show is the one in the country?
Yeah, it's the purest show and it's the only event in the country which is a pure shooting show, so everyone who comes through those doors will enjoy what goes on in the countryside and will enjoy the pursuits of competition and shooting.
How long has the show been going on for?
We're in our 8th year.
And how has the show grown in those years?
Oh, blimey. In its early days it was a very small affair, with a few tents up at Newark, and the founder, John Bertram, was a shooter and realised that there wasn't a pure shooting show available in the UK. There were always game fairs, where you can buy anything from candy floss to a cartridge, but nothing like what we do. The first year, they realised there was a place for it, and it has had natural growth and has extremely good growth year-on-year. 3 years ago, we moved it to Stoneleigh, and it has a proper cosmopolitan feel to it. I spend a lot of time out in Germany at some of the big trade fairs, and I wanted to replicate what they do in the UK. There's an event out there called IWA, which is enormous, and manufacturers come in from all over the world for that. I always felt that it would be nice to bring that feel to the UK and put a 'wow' factor out to the general public. I wanted the public to arrive at the doors and to feel wide-eyed when they walk in and think "Look at some of these stands!" Then, engage and talk to the manufacturers, the manufacturers would then be able to pass them over to their distribution network, and the network would be able to pass them on to the retailer, and this is all happening at one show. The British Shooting Show is a true, trade and retail show and it's the only one of its kind.
Is there a particular aspect of this year's show that you're looking forward to the most?
Because it's the start of the season, the manufacturers are always looking to launch new products. There will always be new products in the airgun, rifle and shotgun sections, then as we go into the clothing, there will always be new product launches as well. Right across our platform of exhibitors, there's always going to be a vast amount of new products ready to hit the floor for 2016. I'm not trying to be vague, but there's not one particular element that I could say to you "I'm looking forward to that being launched the most". I know of at least 12 major new products that are going to be launched at the show, and that's quite phenomenal. It's never happened in the UK up until the last few years when we changed the show's dynamic and what it stands for within the industry. If we look at shotguns, we have all the major brands represented there. There isn't a brand that doesn't attend at the British Shooting Show. There's the Berettas, the Brownings, Perazzis, even through to the absolute top-end with Westley Richards and Boss & Co.
These shotgun manufacturers are true craftsmen.
Exactly. If I told someone that Boss don't produce 20 guns a year, they might roll their eyes or say "pardon?", but no, they produce probably somewhere between the region of 9 and 12. Then if you or I like the look of a Boss gun, and we're at the show talking to the owner and you place your order, he’ll hit you with a 3-year waiting list! It's quite fun really. It may well be the same for the likes of Ferrari or McLaren. I'm sure if I wanted to order one of them I would be placed on a waiting list of some description.
But what about the smaller manufacturers and businesses?
We love to look after the small guys. I met a guy called Danny, who makes synthetic stocks, at an event which was completely wrong for him. He was a bit down in the dumps, and he had paid a lot of money to be there. I looked at the product and asked him: "Do you actually, physically make this?" and he said "Yes, I do." I get fed up of people telling me that they make their product only to find out that they sub it to China or something. Anyway, he said: “no, I've got a small lock-up that I produce these from, they're top-end.” I knew he was in the wrong place, and needed to go to the British Shooting Show. He spoke to me about 3 months after and plucked up the courage to come to our show for the first time. After day 3, he came into the office and looked at me and he said "Thank you, thank you, thank you". I said, "You don't need to thank me, you're just in the right place and you've got the right product". The whole ethos behind the British Shooting Show is that we look after the man who is selling his £1 box of airgun pellets, and we also look after Westley Richards that one might spend a million pounds with. That's the key to the British Shooting Show and I think that's why the general public warm to it.
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