First gun

Please note that you cannot purchase or hire a shotgun if you’re under 18 years of age. You cannot have with you an assembled, functioning shotgun either, unless you’re under supervision of a person who is 21 or more (this applies to shotguns secured in gun slips too). Read more about the law and rules in the Shotgun Safety Code of Practice.

Whether you’re buying your first shotgun or your fifth, it can be a confusing and stressful experience. Navigating your way through a maze of technical terminology can leave you misguided. But don’t fret – there are ways to make this ordeal much easier.

Nothing will beat the traditional gun shop in helping you find that perfect gun. Gun shops range in size; from large gun rooms with clay grounds to small high street rooms. They can make grown men look like children in a sweet shop.

I started looking for my new shotgun at the gun shop next to my barbers. I wasn’t necessarily looking to buy one there and then. I just wanted to see what suited me and what was available at a reasonable budget. They were always happy to let me stare in awe at all the guns, pick them up and give them a swing. All under supervision of course.

I was keen to buy a 12-bore over and under to try and help develop my shooting from my 20-bore side by side. Initially, I thought I could buy any old shotgun and it would suit me. However, after research on gun fit, I realised that wasn’t the case. And there was the issue of what type of shotgun I wanted too.

I mainly shoot clays but also get to go game shooting from time to time. My height was also a factor in choosing the right gun as I’m not very big. This meant most sporters seemed to feel very big and heavy in my hand.

Months passed by and I continued to learn more and more about shotguns. Every time I needed to go to the barbers, I made sure to visit the gun shop too. I also found The Gun Shop’s videos on YouTube very helpful too.

I kept checking local gun shop websites in hope of finding a reliable second-hand sporter under £1,000. Just as I started to consider stretching my budget, I looked at the Wykeham gun shop (Davey and Son) website where I saw a range of second-hand Beretta Silver Pigeons and Browning B525 within my budget.

I managed to persuade my mum to take me after school one day to have a look around. All the staff were very friendly, and we even got offered a cup of tea when we walked in. They listened to everything I had to say about what I wanted in my gun. I got passed a few shotguns to hold and mount, however, they just didn’t fit quite right. I planned to go back at the weekend to have another look.

The following weekend, I went back for another look. I’ve tried a few different guns again but, they weren’t right. It was a real shame as they were priced so reasonably and were beautiful.

After a while, I tried a Browning B525 in great condition. I mounted it up into my shoulder and it sat perfectly. I kept mounting it into my shoulder and each time it felt perfect. The mid bead and the end bead made a perfect figure of eight. A massive smile grew on my face, which gave away the fact that I had finally found a gun I liked. I didn’t want to rush into anything though.

Next weekend, I called in to see if they still had the gun and I was in luck. My dad and I went to see it this time. Even with my dad’s limited knowledge on shooting he could tell it was worth the money. I had a chat with one the guys about the price and haggled them down as much as I could. They gave me a Davey and Son fleece, two boxes of cartridges, which I thought was a pretty good deal. I also found out that one member of the family running the shop is a member of my local clay club too. Hopefully this connection will mean any teething problems I have can be ironed out quickly.

I still call in at the local gun shop whenever I’m in the area. I always feel very welcome there, despite buying the gun elsewhere. I’ve been able to stock up on all gun maintenance gear there though, which is handy.

Overall, I learned a lot from all the gun shops I visited, so I recommend buying guns from a reputable gun shop. It has taken me two years of saving, as well as selling my lambs, to be able to buy the gun. It was well worth the wait.

If you’re new to shooting, our Young Shots events are a great place to start. You can also have a go at shooting clays at various BASC events.

Don’t forget to familiarise yourself with relevant codes of practice before you decide to go shooting – especially the Code of Good Shooting Practice.

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