A sturdy chap who's a keen new shooter looks for some gun buying advice

Q: I have recently taken a real interest in shooting through my girlfriend’s family. I will be looking to get myself a gun for next season and was wondering what to get. I am 6ft 2in and 104kg, so a relatively big, rugby-playing lad. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Q: For someone of your build, the world is your oyster when it comes to buying a shotgun. There are any number of good second-hand 12-bore guns on the market. The choice will really depend on what you want to do with it. If you are going to be shooting clays then go for an over-and-under, if game then an over-and-under is also good, but you may want to go for a side-by-side. There are a lot of very robust Spanish boxlocks about for very little money. For example, I bought a friend of mine a very tidy AYA No.4 for £150. She has found it to be the perfect starter gun.

Have plenty of clay lessons at a shooting school that has a gunshop attached to it. That means that you can try before you buy. The more practice you can get the better. An ethical hunter will only shoot at live quarry when he is confident that he is capable of killing it cleanly. I would always avoid buying a multichoke gun and would stick to an open-bored gun with fixed chokes. Choke is the solution to a problem that few of us have, as we can’t shoot well enough to utilise its effect.

I think that buying a gun from a dealer is always preferable for a novice. Go for one with a warranty, too. Insurance is absolutely vital and if you join an association that offers it as part of the membership package, you will also be able to get help and guidance from its specialist staff.