February poses a number of interesting quandaries for the game shooter. With the driven season now over, do the shotguns go back into cabinets for a well-earned rest, or are they straight out to the gunsmith for a service? Does the shooter start thinking about the pigeons in their local area or are they more concerned with those of the clay variety with an instructor at their elbow? The extremely organised amongst you will already be thinking about next season and therefore be harassing shooting friends for spare dates in the diary or the deposit they swore they’d have ready by now. Which category do you fall into?

In this issue we have next season firmly on our minds. John Walker examines the role sporting agents play in bringing the best estates to the attentions of discerning guns, while Giles Catchpole ponders the criteria someone hoping to form a syndicate should set for new members. Ben Samuelson and Giles are debating once again, this time about what should happen to shotguns post-February 1.

Elsewhere, Chris Warren finds out what it’s like to be an apprentice at Watson Bros., Jeremy Hobson examines the attractions of different types of game shooting and there are fascinating features from Prescombe in Wiltshire and Snilesworth in North Yorkshire.

February will also mark the 10th birthday of the British Shooting Show, which this year moves to the Birmingham NEC. The show has come a long way since its modest beginnings at Newark, and as you’ll see from our preview on pages 28-29 the event promises to be bigger and better than ever before. We will see you there!

Martin Puddifer, editor