The home of Shooting Times and Sporting Gun

News this week: English gunmakers thrive across the pond but sadness at disappearance of lapwings on Dartmoor

Good news for English gunmakers, bad news for lapwings, report Felix Petit and David Tomlinson

man shooting shotgun in USA

Sales of English-made shotguns continue to soar in the USA

English gunmakers continue to thrive across the pond

US sales of shotguns from English gunmakers continue to soar. James Purdey & Sons Ltd, whose shotguns can easily exceed £150,000, do much of their business overseas, with most of this in the USA.

Dan Jago, chairman and CEO of Purdey, said: “We have been making sporting guns for the US market for over 100 years and are very proud that it still represents over half of all orders. Texas leads the way, but many of the southern states, along with California, are increasingly important to Purdey in the US.”

Dr Nicholas Harlow, Purdey’s Mayfair gunroom manager, emphasised: “America is still the biggest single geographic market that we operate in.”

This trend is not limited to ultra-prestige heritage brands and is even more pronounced in a relatively recent newcomer to the English gunmakers’ club — Northampton-based Longthorne Gunmakers Ltd. When asked how high sales to the US were, Elaine Stewart, marketing director at Longthorne, offered: “At the moment I would be conservative and say around 75% but this does fluctuate.” (Felix Petit.)

male lapwing

It’s thought there are no lapwings nesting on Dartmoor this year

Sadness at disappearance of lapwings on Dartmoor

When nature writer and occasional ST contributor Mary Colwell tweeted there were no lapwings nesting on Dartmoor this year, it created a major stir.

She suggested that the principal reasons are heavy predation, principally by crows, and loss of suitable habitat. Both are undoubtedly serious problems and the shooting community responded by stressing the importance of managing predators.

In a blog written for the Natural England website earlier this year, Wes Smythe noted that: “Breeding populations of golden plover, red grouse and ring ouzels have now gone or are on the verge of being lost. The large expanses of upland heathland that once characterised the moor are now in poor ecological condition. Dartmoor’s precious peatlands, its blanket bogs on the highest ground and mires in the valley bottoms are still suffering from historic management affecting their ability to store carbon and regulate river flows.”

There are plans to rectify these problems. Sadly, however, lapwings have been lost from the moor, possibly forever. It’s thought there are no lapwings nesting on Dartmoor this year. (David Tomlinson.)