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Retailer sticks to its guns

Thousands of shooters have registered their anger at WHSmith?s decision to ban the sale of shooting titles to under-14s.

An online petition set up by 17-year-old James Reynolds seeking the reversal of the decision has already been signed by more than 7,000 people, but WHSmith claims restrictions were introduced historically because of ?firearm-related products? given away free with the magazines.

James told Shooting Times: ?I am from a family of non-shooting people, but I am an avid shooting sportsman, and Shooting Times has been essential reading since I was 12 years old.

?The skills and knowledge learned through the pages of the magazine have been absolutely invaluable to me, and I would hate to think WHSmith would deny that information to anyone, however young.?

Prompted by BASC and the Countryside Alliance, many shooters have chosen to express their displeasure directly to WHSmith chairman Walker Boyd.

Typical of the letters and emails seen by Shooting Times was one from Richard Miller of Cambridge, who said he felt ?deeply uncomfortable and embarrassed? when told at a self-service till that authorisation was needed for him to buy his favourite weekly read.

He wrote: I am so disgusted I have withdrawn my custom immediately and until further notice. I even went to the length of walking an extra mile to another newsagent to get my morning paper today, and felt much the better for it.

To sign James?s petition against the ban, visit

A spokesman from WHSmith told Shooting Times: “As we have already advised you, our till prompt process has been in place for many years and has never previously generated any customer complaints. In this respect, we have undertaken no recent changes to our procedures.

The introduction of till prompts with regards to certain shooting titles originated from the fact that a number of these publications have historically included free giveaway ‘cover mounts’, with items attached to the front of the magazine, that have included certain firearm related products. With regard to the application of these procedures across our store chain however, these till prompts have only been applied to a section of the gun related and shooting titles that we stock, representing a limited number of publications.

We continually look at all store procedures, including the use of till prompts, to determine whether they are appropriate in light of changing customer needs, legislative amendments and other regulatory monitoring. Our desire going forwards is to work more closely with the shooting magazine publishers to address the concerns that have been highlighted by all of the customers who have recently contacted us, in order to ensure that appropriate monitoring procedures can be applied, prior to these publications being sent to the store for placing on sale”.