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Alastair Phillips

interviewed by Wendy Dixon

When did you first learn to shoot?

I bought a .177 air rifle at the age of 8 and learnt to shoot targets and cans at home. It wasn’t long after that I was allowed to move on to shotguns and live quarry.

Do the rest of your family shoot? If not, what brought you to it?

There are several members of my family that shoot but I was naturally drawn to it. I developed a fascination for guns as a kid and was constantly tinkering with my air rifle setup as a kid.

What other hobbies do you have other than shooting?

My wife always laughs about this topic as I have more hobbies than time! I enjoy fishing, cycling, gardening, DIY but I would say that aside from guns my two other passions are cars and wine. I own a classic car, a 1968 MGC roadster and over the years have built a nice little cellar buying en primeur.

When did you decide you wanted a career in the gun trade and how did you go about entering the field?

I don’t remember exactly when but I was lucky to have Nick Holt (Holts Auctioneers) as a cousin who helped fuel my enthusiasm. At the age of 16, I wrote to Nigel Beaumont MD of Purdey at the time asking for a position in the factory as an apprentice. I got a letter of acceptance, however, my parents had different ideas for me and I went on to A-levels instead. So nice that I am working for the Purdey group now!

What appealed to you most about coming to work with the team at RBSS and running the Gun Room?

I have always admired the School and how professional yet friendly it was. It has a stunning location. They have a great team of which some of which I have known a couple for a long time. When Purdey bought them earlier this year, it became an even more exciting proposition. Having recently moved nearby by I felt I was extremely lucky to be given the opportunity.

What guns do you shoot yourself?

I am afraid that I am a complete tart when it comes to guns! To the detriment of my skill level. I change fairly often. It is the beauty of working in a Gun Room. I do have an old trusty in the form of a 1924 12bore boxlock ejector by Wm Evans that I use for the majority of my game shooting, however, I use an over and under Browning when it comes to high pheasant and clays.

If you could own any gun, what would it be and why?

Aside from it being very diplomatically safe – a Purdey has always been on the wish list, as I have always regarded them! Fingers crossed there’s one with my name on it…. Ha ha! Were it not to be the case I would love to own a Westley Richards droplock in a small calibre. I saw a 28bore one once and absolutely fell in love.

Give 3 top tips for someone thinking about buying their first gun.

1, Comfort is very important. That should come with it being fitted properly. But also, that you are comfortable with the weight of the gun. You need to focus on the target not worry or think about the gun.

2, Trust your gut instinct. If you like it, you will enjoy owning it.

3, Ask about resale value. As it’s your first gun you may want to upgrade or change it for different specifications as you settle into your chosen shooting discipline.

What worries do you have for the future of shooting in this country?

If we don’t move with the times quick enough. Especially when it comes to the consumption of game. However, we are seeing positive moves forward on that with the British Game Alliance.

And finally, if someone who has never been to RBSS asks you why they should come here, what would you say to persuade them?

Stunning grounds and a really friendly team. Paired up with good food onsite prepared by Wild Fork.