Based in Somerset, Rifleman Firearms marks five years in business this year. We interview owner Mark Tutton about what’s next
Bowdens Farm, Hambridge, Somerset, TA10 0BP
How did you get started and why?
In short, after 25+ years in the corporate rat race I decided that enough was enough. After my wife said “you’ll be bored in no-time, what will you do” I flippantly responded “open a gun shop”. I’ve been a passionate rifle shooter for nearly 30 years and I realised that there was room for a specialist gun shop, staffed by passionate shooters for shooters.
Do you specialise in a particular area of the market?
Our passion is rifle shooting in it various guises, but we also have a couple of members of staff who are seasoned air rifle shooters, so between us we cover just about all aspects of vermin, stalking and competition shooting. We stock one of the most comprehensive ranges of airguns and rifles with associated scopes and accessories around.
Have you noticed any changes in calibres purchased over the last few years?
Yes, in the rifle world most people seem to be moving away from the legacy .308 and moving across to more ballistically efficient projectiles such as the 260 or 6.5 Creedmoor.
Do you and your staff shoot?
Yes and passionately, every member of staff (sales and admin) is a shooter in one discipline or the other, from general vermin control to long range precision target shooting. We even have two Olympic talent squad members of staff who are budding Olympic games contestants.
What piece of advice do you give customers before buying their first rifle?
Because we all shoot we can recommend through personal experience what we know works and offers the right value for money to suit their budget. We also set the gun up with the correct eye relief, level the scope and zero air rifles on our range to make sure the customer is ready to shoot as soon as they leave the shop.
Attached to the shop is an air rifle range. Can you give some details?
We have a 12-lane air rifle range with covered, lit and heated benched firing points, with hundreds of targets available reaching out to 90 yards.
Two of the lanes have electronic target systems and are covered, creating a ‘wind-free’ environment. You can shoot as a member with reduced lane hire rates or simply just ‘pay-as-you-shoot’.
Do you have plans to include fullbore shooting facilities?
Yes! Our 100-metre fullbore range has now received planning permission, and this is where the work really begins. There are lots of plans and projects to make our ranges the best fullbore destination in the country. Keep an eye on our website and Facebook page for updates.
You have a customer training centre next to the shop. What training courses do you offer?
We offer Firearms Awareness, Safe Handling and Public safety courses for rifles and air rifles which consist of a theoretical session and then over to the range for some real-time shooting experience – both air rifle and fullbore to ensue the basics are taught and practised.