The European Commission, Firearms Directive amendments and fieldsports

The European Commission (EC) has suggested some changes to the EU Firearms Directive. While these proposals have not yet been adopted, it is worth considering how they might affect legislation in the UK if they do in fact become part of the Firearms Directive. What of the Firearms Directive amendments and fieldsports? The proposals outline a strengthening of the control of firearms across the entire EU, but as many changes feature discrepancies and contradictions it is also worth contemplating how they could impact popular fieldsports such as grouse shooting and deer stalking.

Firearms and medical tests

One proposal is to mandate that firearms applicants undergo a standardized medical test.  This would (presumably) be used to identify potential issues that people may have and tailor access to firearms accordingly.  Depending on the type and extent of these standardized tests, they may be something that is outside of the compliance capabilities of the current system. Without more information on this proposal, it is impossible to say for sure what the appropriate UK legislation in this area could be, which is a concern.

Sounds moderators required?

Another proposal is to bring “sound moderators” under the coverage of the Firearms Directive. Given that the UK already has legislation which classifies a sound moderator as an accessory, it is likely that the UK laws in this area are already in compliance with the Directive even if this proposal is adopted. Depending on the final format, additional legislation may be necessary, but at this point it seems that existing legislation will be sufficient.

Weapons collectors now included

A proposal which would probably bring about more change in UK laws is the proposal to bring collectors of firearms under the Directive. Although collectors are already required to hold a license in the UK—and thus we are likely compliant in that regard—this could end up changing what collectors are allowed to do: currently, collectors can own items such as deactivated weapons (for example, machine guns or antique shotguns that may be family heirlooms) as well as disguised weapons such as “walking stick firearms.”  However, under the proposed changes to the Directive, only approved museums would be able to own such items, and the items would be required to be deactivated.  It is also possible that individuals who collect various types of ammunition could be prohibited from doing so under the Directive.

Tighter rules on deactivated firearms

Another proposal is to tighten the standard for deactivating firearms before they are sold.  This proposal likely would not have a significant impact on UK legislation as the standards already in place are probably adequate to comply with the proposal.  If the current owner of a deactivated weapon decides to sell or transfer ownership thereof, at the time of the sale or transfer it is possible that the weapon would need to be brought into compliance with the standard imposed by the Directive.

Moving forward

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (“BASC”) is proactively taking steps to address these, and other, proposals.  By engaging in dialogue with The Home Office, the Department of Justice (Northern Ireland), The Federation of European hunting associations, and other sister organizations, BASC are working to promote safety and responsible ownership of firearms and the safe enjoyment of popular fieldsports.

BASC believe that the proper way to address the illegal use of firearms is to employ a separate legal instrument rather than changing the current Firearms Directive. Regardless of the mechanism used to combat the illegal ownership and use of firearms, it is necessary to accurately assess the impact and outcome of the mechanism in order to ensure that unintended outcomes (especially those which disproportionately and unfairly harm legitimate users of firearms) are minimized or avoided altogether.

Additional information about the proposed changes can be found on the BASC website, and BASC are currently urging members to get in touch with their MEPs to raise any concerns that may impact on their way of life, shooting hobbies and fieldsports in general.

You can stay up to date on the latest developments by visiting the EU website.

Walked up grouse shooting in Scotland to wild pheasants in California

Last season I had the pleasure of arranging a day of walked up grouse shooting for an American client who had found the Exclusively Scottish website through a random internet search. Sean was over from the US for a conference in Glasgow and prompted by his father, he was keen to experience walked up grouse shooting in Scotland. Finding shooting for a single gun is never easy but I managed to team Sean up with a couple of guns from the South of England who were also looking for their first grouse shooting experience. And this really is the key to what Exclusively Scottish strive to offer – an unforgettable experience in the Scottish Borders – in the company of like-minded sportsmen and friendly, professional gamekeepers and beaters, all out to provide the best possible day.

Walked up grouse shooting in Scotland

Just being out on a grouse moor early season is something special – the heather, the views, the ambience – especially when combined with the knowledge that good land management benefits all wildlife and habitats. This of course applies to all types of ground, lowland or upland, and even if you don’t agree with game shooting, the countryside we see and cherish today is a direct result of this positive management.

Sean experiencing his first walked up grouse shooting
Many clients from the United States are used to walked up shooting, both pheasant and quail, but few are prepared for the challenge of their first grouse and Sean had borrowed a nice little side by side 20 bore non-ejector from me – a perfect gun for this type of day. We started to walk out and straight away a brace of grouse got up in front and Sean got a single shot off but to no avail. Soon after this a covey got up and again a single shot was fired unsuccessfully. In the way only a gamekeeper can admonish a client, there came a shout of “it’s got two bloody triggers don’t you know!”. We walked on a bit further and another small covey got up – “Bang!, Bang!”, two shots fired and Sean had two birds down – a great way to silence the keeper. The weather was glorious and a great day was had by all.

Fast forward nearly 12 months and I was looking after some clients on a mixed species shooting day that was to include a walk on the grouse moor. The team was varied to say the least, coming from Cyprus, Ireland and London (surely a country all in itself!) and all were “grouse virgins” after that special experience. Bad luck would have it that the day was shrouded in thick fog making it too dangerous to walk up a line of guns on the moor. We persevered with some lowland drives bagging teal, mallard, snipe, pheasant and partridge and ending up with a decent mixed bag. The next day my own syndicate were out for a similar day and the weather couldn’t have been worse – no chance of grouse and an early finish!

Catch from our lowland shooting drives  A decent mixed bag of teal, mallard, snipe, pheasant and partridge

Walked up grouse shooting versus wild pheasant hunting

The British are obsessed with the weather and probably rightly so as we never know what we’re going to get. However these two days show that you have to work with the weather and go with what nature throws at you. Put the right clothes on and get on with it! And then I got home to these pictures from Sean!

An American catch of pheasants  Hunting wild pheasants south of Mexicali   Sean and his friends after a days shooting  
A small sustainable bag all destined to be cooked and eaten

Sean and his team had been hunting wild pheasants south of Mexicali, Baja California Norte, Mexico with Miguel Rivera, Hunting Outfitter. In comparison to our walked up grouse shooting day there’s a marked difference in the weather and dress code, but an obvious similarity in camaraderie and a shared experience with friends and family. And like most of our days, a small sustainable bag all destined to be cooked and eaten. So not that different after all.


Bringing a shotgun into the UK for fieldsports

Firearms laws vary massively from one nation to the next, and if you are considering bringing a shotgun into the UK for fieldsports you should keep reading.

Exclusively Scottish can arrange every element of your trip to Scotland to enjoy fieldsports such as pheasant shooting, deer stalking and fishing. The service can include booking accommodation, arranging transportation, gun hire, non-shooting activities and visitor permits to allow you to bring your own shotgun or rifle into the UK.

Plan your shotgun permit request in advance

If however you want to arrange a permit yourself you should be aware that there are strict procedures that you must follow. To begin with, you should ensure that you have applied for the appropriate permit at least 8 weeks before your intended visit. Certain firearms are not allowed in the UK; if you are attempting to bring a prohibited firearm into the country you will be denied entry.  For this reason it is important that you fully and accurately complete the permit application process so that the police will be able to determine whether the firearm you wish to bring is permitted and can notify you of the result of your application.

To apply for the permit, use Form 107 [PDF]. Form 107 may be used for individuals or groups of people.  If you intend to apply for a permit you will need to have a resident of the UK act as your sponsor and submit your application to the firearms licensing department on your behalf.

The cost of a permit will vary depending on the number of people the permit is issued to, and a permit can be valid for up to 1 year, allowing for flexibility in planning and/or multiple visits to the country.  Be aware, however, that the police have the right to place restrictions on the permit.

Check for and correct any mistakes

You should sign your permit when you receive it and be sure that you carefully review it.  If it contains a mistake – such as an incorrect serial number – you need to have this addressed before you attempt to bring the firearm into the country. Failure to correct any error in a permit may result in you not being allowed to bring the firearm into the UK. 

What the permit doesn’t cover

Holding a firearms permit only allows you to bring a firearm when you visit the country or possess one while you are here. A permit does not allow you to purchase firearms while in the UK.  Certain permits will allow you to purchase certain types of firearms; for more information, you should contact the appropriate governmental authority.

When you visit a sovereign territory of the UK – such as Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man – you should note that your permit is not valid and you will need to seek the appropriate permission from the authorities in those territories.

If you wish to bring an air weapon (commonly called “BB gun” or “pellet gun” or “air rifle” in the U.S.) into the UK you should contact The British Association for Shooting and Conservation by calling +44 (0) 1244-573010 to verify whether it is permitted or not.  The law relating to air weapons is too complex to go into here; suffice to say that it will vary from one air weapon to the next.

There are specific rules that relate to the transfers of shotguns or ammunition to holders of a visitor’s permit.  These will vary depending on the specifics of each situation and are also too complex to address here.

For peace of mind have a professional apply for you

If you are still thinking of bringing a shotgun into the UK for fieldsports but you are unsure of any element of the proceedure or have doubts about completing form 107, then feel free to get in touch with us and Exclusively Scottish can help arrange the necessary paperwork as part of your fieldsports trip to the Scottish Borders.

What a game shooting season!

The 2014/2015 game shooting season has definitely been one to remember for Exclusively Scottish and for many reasons. A relatively good winter in Scotland throughout 13/14 and consistently good weather throughout the year meant that all game and wildlife promised to be in great condition – and they were. Grouse keepers didn’t get too carried away with predictions before the 12th but it turned out to be a cracking season. Many estates broke records, and although that’s not what the sport should be about, it’s an indicator of successful management and continued sustainability.

I was lucky enough to be out on a shoot on the Glorious Twelfth – but unfortunately not with gun in hand! I had been asked to look after a good friend of the estate owner who was over from New Zealand. It turned out that following a stroke some years ago, John only had the use of one arm and I helped load for him.

Exclusively Scottish arranged several walked up and driven grouse days in August and September before moving into some mixed species days in October.

Sean2  Sean3

Kelso144  Sykes1
The mixed species days have proved extremely popular. The combination of fieldcraft, wild game and the opportunity to bag a grouse on a budget is unbeatable sport and a great challenge.

One shoot day saw twin brothers up from Essex. We loaned them a pair of guns and they shot their first ever brace of grouse on the Twin Laws on the Lammermuirs. 2 of everything!

Byles3  twins

It was quite an international game shooting season with clients from Ireland, Switzerland, Denmark, Australia and the USA as well as many from all over the UK. As well as walked up days we also organised some great driven shoots with fantastic high birds.

Steffen13  oz2  Yank4

Dom3  Greenhills5  Lit3


All in all it was a fantastic game shooting season with all estates providing quality sport and excellent hospitality. A big thanks to all involved. On the back of such a great season bookings are coming in fast for this season so get organised early!

Shooting socks and a shoot day with a difference!

The Brief –  A shoot day with a difference – no shooting!. I’ve been asked to organise plenty of game shooting days but never a photo shoot. It would have been great if the assignment was for a saucy country calendar, but alas it was to promote a new range of country, fashion and shooting socks. It turned out to be great fun!

ex3  IMG_0791a
The company in question is the House of Cheviot which is owned by good friends of mine and is based in Hawick in the Scottish Borders. They specialise in designing and manufacturing the highest quality shooting and kilt socks which are retailed by many famous brands. They recently decided to set up an a-commerce side to their business with a new in-house range and so were looking for a good portfolio of photographs to use for promotional purposes. Somehow this is where I came in! Most of the photographs were to be country/shooting orientated with the emphasis on an informal, aspirational look. There was also to be a “fashion” type shoot in Edinburgh for a completely new range of socks.

Never one to shirk a challenge, I set about organising a cast, crew and photographer. I came up with a shortlist of three photographers and the company chose Jonathan McGee – one of the best sporting photographers in the industry. Not used to hanging around with professional models, sourcing this was a bit harder but a Facebook request found me Georgia Annable, a young up and coming model. The rest of the cast were amateur friends and fellow shots. The venue chosen was the lovely Kames estate near Coldstream thanks to owner Dermot Jenkinson and Head Keeper Paul Clayworth.

Cast Robin Georgia
With the cast, crew and venue sorted the only thing that was needed was some great weather and luckily we got it! On the first morning of the photo shoot we headed off to Edinburgh to find some iconic backdrops to show off HOC’s new range of fashion socks. We got a few funny looks as Georgia changed socks and outfits with Jonathan “clicking” away merrily! Starting at Prince’s street with Edinburgh Castle in the background, we then moved on to the famous Grassmarket area and finally on to Fountainbridge.

We finished up in Edinburgh just after lunch and headed down to the Borders, trying not to break too many speed limits, so that we could do the next leg of the shoot before we lost the light. Crossing the border into England, we arrived at Tillmouth Park House hotel with plenty of time to spare and this part of the photo shoot was designed to show off the shooting socks in a slightly more formal setting that might take place at the start or end of a shoot day. The setting was perfect!

HOC11  Till
Day 2 was to be a shoot day with a difference. The cast and crew met at the Kames Estate bothy and we all brought along a selection of tweed, shooting wear and accessories – it would have made for a pretty good car boot sale! With a huge range of socks to choose from,we soon looked the part.

Bothy1  Bothy2
It was then off to the first “drive” and we lined out on a stubble field in glorious sunshine. Paul, the keeper remarked that it all felt a bit strange – the guns were facing the opposite way to how they would on a real day and there were no birds to worry about – he was pretty chilled! Next was “elevenses” with sloe gin and home made brownies! Jonathan took some great shots and although it was completely staged, the end results look pretty good.

drive  11s
All in all we had a great couple of days and Jonathan’s photos really show off the beautiful range of socks that Robin has created. I haven’t shown any close up shots of these socks as the new website isn’t online yet but I’ll put some on as soon as it goes live…….

Grouse Shooting with Tasmanian Devils

It’s not often that you get to go grouse shooting with Tasmanian Devils,  but that’s what happened a couple of weeks ago. I had been booked by another shooting agent ( I can’t name him of course – Charlie you know it’s you!), to look after a couple of clients over from Tasmania for there first ever grouse shooting experience. Guns and cartridges were supplied by Castle Gunmakers and I was to be their guide. On the first day we headed off to Bisley at Braidwood to sharpen up on some clays in the grouse butt. Although the guys had lots of shooting experience walking up over pointers in Australia, simulated grouse shooting on low driven targets was a whole new ball game! They soon caught on. After a quick briefing on the etiquette of the day we were ready for the real thing.

oz7  tas devil

Day 2 was to be 30 brace driven grouse with 8 guns. Charlie was generous to let me invite two guests and good friends Darren and Paul didn’t take much persuading! However when first asked, Paul said – “do you need me to pick up?” He was glad he brought his gun! Charlie and I stood alternate drives with Wayne and David, our Tasmanian Devils, and they soon got into the swing of things, both bagging grouse in the first couple of drives. There were smiles all round at “elevenses” with Paul admitting he had never shot grouse before. The weather was fabulous as was the company and it was a memorable day for all those involved. We achieved 26 brace which was pretty good for such an inexperienced team.

oz2  oz1  oz3

Our final day was walked up grouse shooting over pointers. Wayne was really looking forward to seeing the dogs work and he was not disappointed. Despite the hot weather, the abundance of grouse this year meant the first dog was soon on point and the guys walked in just in time to get a shot and one bird fell! We criss-crossed the moor for a couple of hours and the guns got to lunch with a couple of brace each. The hot weather meant that the dogs were only worked for an hour after lunch leaving the guys with some true walked up grouse shooting to finish the day.

oz5  oz6

What a fantastic 3 days! Simulated driven grouse, actual driven grouse and walked up grouse. Wayne and David had been looking forward to this trip for many years and they weren’t disappointed. They were true sportsmen and appreciative of all aspects of the shoot management and the value of grouse shooting to Scotland. Hopefully they may be back again.

From game fair season to Scottish game shooting season

Game fair season

This year is really flying by quickly and no sooner was the game fair season over than the Scottish game shooting season began. Not long after exhibiting at the West Country Game Fair, we headed off to attend our first Badminton Horse Trials for a joint Exclusively Scottish/Castle Gunmakers stand. Although not a shooting show, Badminton is a Mecca for country and town folk alike and we took a wide variety of products – from guns to socks and throws. The weather was indifferent which saw attendance down and unfortunately sales as well! However we had a great time, aided by volunteer salesman Darren Hawkins.

Bespoke, new and used shotguns on display  Luxury tweed fieldsports products to buy  Preparing for the Scottish game shooting season at the Badminton game fair
After Badminton our next stop was the CLA Game Fair at Blenheim Palace, where we once again shared space on the Lairds Sporting Directory stand. The weather was good and we had a successful show selling guns and Scottish products as well as talking to lots of people wanting to come shooting in the Scottish Borders – some booked, some didn’t! Thanks to eveyone who came on the stand for a chat.

Great choice of stalls at the Badminton game fair  The Exclusively Scottish/Castle Gunmakers stall   Overnight accommodation at the game fair

The Scottish game shooting season

With our game fair season over it was straight into the game shooting season in the Scottish Borders and The Glorious Twelfth came round pretty quickly. A local estate were having a small driven grouse day and the owner asked me if I would help load for a good friend of his. And so it was that I met John and his wife Janice who were over from New Zealand. After being a keen shooter all his life, John had a brain haemorrage 16 years ago which left him partially paralysed on his right side. Encouraged by his friends to carry on shooting, he has taught himself to shoot using his left arm only and continues to be a passionate game shooter. Once the grouse started coming, he soon got into them and finished with a couple of brace – more than many can do using both hands! It was a great pleasure to be with John and Janice on the grouse moor in the Borders and I look forward to seeing them in the future.

Driven grouse day on the moor  Janice and John - shooters from the USA  Enjoying the Scottish game shooting season

The following week saw our first client of the year – Sean Hastings from the USA. Sean was attending a conference in Glasgow and his father told him not to miss the opportunity to experience some walked up grouse shooting in the Scottish Borders. We fixed Sean up with a couple of other shooters new to walked up grouse and he headed out onto the moor with a nice little Spanish 20 bore side by side supplied by Castle Gunmakers. The first bird got up and he fired a single shot but missed….a second bird got up and he fired a single shot but missed! The keeper yelled ‘use both barrels!’. Then a brace got up and he fired both barrels and got a ‘right and left’ – the keeper kept quiet! Sean finished up with two and a half brace, a morning well spent.

Walked up grouse shooting in the moors  Sean with his grouse and the hills in the background  Relaxing during the walked up grouse shooting
And so with the Scottish game shooting season in full swing, clients are coming to the Scottish Borders thick and fast. Next were a couple from Tasmania and a couple from Switzerland – I’ll tell you about them next time!

Good game shoots, fairs and more

Book shooting days before they’re gone!

Well, the 13/14 shooting season seems a long way in the past now but enquiries are coming in fast and it’s obvious that all the good game shoots are getting booked up pretty quickly. Many clients, especially those from overseas, fail to grasp how quick they need to book shooting packages in the Scottish Borders – especially for popular grouse shoots. Spring seems to be going in the right direction and hopefully counts will be good. We still have some great early season partridge days available in September at really good rates – give us a call! Walked up shooting is in great demand again and days are filling well but with good availability still left in December.

Borders grouse shoots   A day shooting grouse in the Scottish Borders   Good game shoots equal happy clients
As ever, we have lots of varied and exciting shooting packages available as well as providing a full bespoke fieldsports service – tell us what game you want to shoot and we’ll try our best to sort it! Stalking and fishing enquiries are also up with availability selling out fast.

Country game fairs and shotgun sales

Show season is getting underway and we’ve already been to the West Country Game Fair at Shepton Mallet in Yorkshire and the Deer Stalking show at Kelso in the Scottish Borders. Both were really busy with strong gun and product sales and lots of shooting enquiries.

Our display of shotguns at the game fair  A great choice of over and under shotguns for sale   Nice overhead photo of the game fair stalls   Fieldsports sculptures for sale   Exclusively Scottish stag and hare cushions   Exclusively Scottish at Stand13 at the game fair
Next week we are off to the Badminton International Horse Trials. We will have all our lovely tweed and tartan textile products including our Harris tweed horse rug, together with some lovely guns and of course lots of shooting packages – come and have a chat. We’ll have a full review and pictures on the blog in a couple of weeks.

Bespoke, new, used shotgun sales display   Fieldsports products on our CLA stand display   Exclusively Scottish tweed horse blanket
We are also excited to be joining Lairds Sporting Directory at the CLA Game Fair this year and will keep you posted. Don’t miss out on the good game shoots; book early to avoid disappointment!

Tweed cushions – part of our forthcoming interior design range

Tweed cushions - hare design Tweed cushions - stag and hare design Tweed cushions - pheasant and partridge designExclusively Scottish is excited to launch the first of its new interior design range of products – tweed cushions. Designed and hand-made in Scotland using locally sourced Tweed and Harris Tweed, these sportingly themed cushions will add a touch of the country to any interior.

These stylish tweed cushions currently feature a number of different designs, including hare, stag, pheasant and partridge. They will soon be available to buy via our online shop, and we will be showcasing the cushions at our first outside event of the year, the West Country Game Fair at Shepton Mallet.

We will soon have several more tweed options and motifs that we will be bringing to the show as well as our range of tweed and Harris tweed gunslips and cartridge bags. We will also have a range of limited edition Scottish wool throws and blankets to complement many interior design options.

Look out for more tweed cushion designs and other tweed products coming soon!

Game shooting in scotland; walked up and mini driven

Formal driven game shooting is often hailed as the pinnacle of our sport and in most circumstances provides a great shooting experience. However, a fantastic day can also be had wandering around beautiful countryside in pursuit of a mixed bag, presented in numerous challenging ways. Rather than being tied to a peg and a narrow “window” of opportunity, walked up, rough and informal ‘mini-driven’ shooting offers the sportsman a huge variety of shooting experiences and much more interaction with his fellow guns, the keeper, and his team of beaters and dogs. Nature, habitat and fieldcraft are the order of the day.

It was such a day that brought a diverse team of guns together on the edge of the Lammermuirs for a mixed informal shoot. Two of the guns had flown over from Ireland (for one it was a surprise Christmas present!); one had come from Cheltenham, one from Alnmouth and the other two were local.
After all introductions were made we headed off for the first challenge – a small wetland area where we could hope to bag some mallard and teal. This was quite a military operation as it involved the team lining out in a field and then approaching a dry stone wall as low and quietly as possible so as not to disturb the birds. Once in behind the wall, the team waited for the birds to flush. Lots of shots were fired but only one mallard in the bag! It was a start!

Ready! Steady! Go!
Next we walked up some rough cover, blanking in as we went and then standing in a line as birds were flushed towards us. No pegs had been drawn giving the guns the option to move each other around as fairly as possible. Some really nice pheasants were sportingly shot and excuses made for the ones missed!

Shooting  Stubble
Time for some exercise and the guns lined out to walk up a long strip of grass and reeds, before standing below a kale plot. Success came in the form of half a dozen pheasants and a couple of hares.

dom Team2 Walk
Lunch was taken in the field – fittingly Game Pie! After lunch the team headed off to a different part of the shoot to try their luck at some traditionally presented partridges. Martin,one of the guns from Ireland had not shot a partridge before and we warned him how challenging they would be at this point in the season. We were not wrong and the partridges provided a huge range of shots for the whole team, flying strong and fast.Some great birds were shot with everyone having success – including Martin!

Mark 20's Jeff
All in all a great day of mixed sport in the Scottish Borders (one of the best places for game shooting in Scotland) – informal but challenging – with everyone getting plenty of shooting. There was a real interaction with the keepers and beating team and the final bag was 68 head of game. A big thanks to everyone involved.

Andrew Team4 Team3
If you would like to experience a great day’s game shooting in Scotland (driven, walked up or mini driven), please contact us for advice, prices and information.