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Future of hand engraving is under threat

Hand-engraved shotguns could become a rarity in the future if more young people are not recruited to the industry, according to the Hand Engravers Association (HEA).

“Orders for work, especially on sporting guns, are at a record high but we are concerned about the long-term future as more practitioners are retiring than starting in the business,” said the HEA’s Alan Craxford. He added: “The challenge is that engravers are so tied up in meeting commissions that they simply do not have the time or resources to oversee apprenticeships. We desperately need to find funding to recruit and train the talent that will keep this industry alive for the future.”

Andy Miles, from Kent, has been a freelance engraver for more than 10 years, taking on commissions from gunmakers such as Holland & Holland, Boss & Co and E. J. Churchill. He told Shooting Times that he was not surprised by the news: “Most of the established engravers are now in their sixties and seventies. The trouble is that the apprenticeship takes about seven years to complete. It is very slow to get going, but once a young engraver has cut their teeth and established themselves, the remuneration can be relatively rewarding. Plus there is more work available than there are engravers.”

The rest of this article appears in 26 August issue of Shooting Times.

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