Riflecraft’s new shop and training facilities
- By Pete Moore
- 0 Comments
- Last updated: 19/12/2016
I’ve known Riflecraft for many years and remember when founder Andrew Evans-Hendrik first started up out of a secure unit in the back of his house. The company grew its reputation not only in quality gunsmithing, but also training; both of which I can attest to. As they were one of the earliest providers of this facility with their Modules 1, 2 and 3 that took you from basic to long range and more. Eventually and unsurprisingly they moved to larger premises to further grow the business, which they did by starting with one unit on an industrial estate. After a year or so Andrew had purchased the rest of the row and put in a proper gunshop and a massive showroom as well as expanding the workshop and associated machinery. They also have a Cerakoting facility too!
Things were looking very good with dedicated training personal as well as a gunshop manager. But also things change with staff moving on to do their own thing and Andrew very much building rifles most of the time the training side wound down a bit as did the shop. Plus competition in the training market was now fierce with other companies following the original Riflecraft model to a degree, so shooters were now spoilt for choice.
With that pocket history over I was invited down by the new gunshop manager Jonathan Mason so I could see what he has done and how Riflecraft was now on the upswing again. I also met James Hyde the new head of training; he like me and Andrew is ex-Army so we had no problem communicating!
I was more intrigued by Jonathan as he did not seem like a shooter to me, which he is not; no problem, as often someone who is not near a thing can be far more analytical. I discovered he has a degree in business studies, with over a decade of experience in retail with his most recent role being a district manager with Lidl. Today’s gun trade seem to be recruiting outside it’s comfort zone, seemingly preferring business acumen to people who love shooting. Which I find overly sensible, as you do not need to love something to sell it well, in fact that detachment probably helps more than you might think! However, Jonathan is keen on getting into Mini Rifle and doubtless will get into other areas too, if I know Andrew that is!
Jonathan has been tasked with increasing retail and trade sales, he had this to say about it: “This year’s focus is to reintroduce our product range to the trade, this includes our existing range (Bore Tech, Hardy Moderators, Timney Triggers etc.) as well as some exciting new products.” He is helped in the shop by Callum and George who are also on the sales team as well as helping out with the day to day running of the company as to range days, the shop and product launches.
The shop has changed a little with the original and massive shelving units giving way to more and smaller displays, the result being more product on display making it easier to navigate. What hit me right away was the Polaris quad bike parked in the middle of the floor. Not just a gimmick, though it certainly caught my eye, as they can arrange test drives through the local dealer if you are in the market.
Major product lines I saw include Timney triggers, Tier 1 scope mounts, a big selection of 22 semi-auto rifle and AR15 accessories with lots of S&W 15-22 magazines etc. The two clothing lines are Deerhunter and Snugpak, both of which I use already as they are very good! Add in the MDT chassis systems with a nice display of options, Caldwell products, Nightforce, Leupold and Nikko scopes and much more. Reloading is well taken care of with most major brands of powder, primers and bullets, along with dies, presses and associated equipment along with a huge choice of factory ammunition. Walking around shows a good choice of aftermarket rifle stocks from McMillan, Bell & Carlson, Hogue and others.
Jonathan also has the task of making discontinued lines shift and there were SALE signs with all manner of other gear that we shooters love to rummage through as there’s always a bargain or something you need. He has also done well on website sales too, which is an integral part of any modern business who wants to keep tight communications with its customer base.
With a lot of animal heads on the walls (all shot by Andrew in his time) this area feels like a real gunshop, and as a shooter when you walk through the doors you feel like you’ve come to the right place! Next stop the gun room. This is very much a giant, walk-in armoured box, so firearms can be displayed to their best effect. Lined in polished chequer plate the goods stand out well.
There are many custom builds on the walls along with new guns like Barretts, Remingtons, Kimbers, CZs, Stoeger
shotguns, in fact most major brands and S&W 15-22s. This little 22LR AR15 copy is hugely popular and Riflecraft does a sweet version with a 12” tube and moderator. They also offer a Cerakote option too. Surprising too was the Uberti lever-action rifles on offer, I never thought I’d see this classic design in a shop like this, but they must sell or they would not be there!
Upstairs which was the reloading room, is now dedicated to air rifles and shotguns. Jonathan told me they stock most major brands of spring guns and pre charged pneumatics and have a steady through put of airgunners. They also offer a range of pellets, accessories and a bottle filling facility, though this is not on site and has a 24-hour turn around. They are also moving into more sporting shotguns and have a selection of guns, clays, cartridges and other accessories.
Not traditional products Andrew would have stocked a few years ago, but if you can attract more and different shooters by diversifying your product range it’s a no-brainer. After all that’s why you employ people who know what they are doing! It looks to me that the retail side of Riflecraft is once again on the up and I congratulate Jonathan for the job he is doing.
Next stop a chat with James who is responsible for all the training be it civilian, police or military. I’ll let him speak for himself: “We’ve been setting the standard for the firearms training industry for the last 15 years, providing an unparalleled level of training to the military, police and civilian markets. Whilst initially training police tactical firearms teams and running courses for national shooting organizations, we found an increased desire by civilian rifle users to be taught new techniques in a safe and well conducted environment.”
“This led us to develop the Riflecraft Marksmanship Academy. A set of progressive modular courses designed to increase a rifle shooter’s awareness and knowledge at a challenging but manageable pace. We believe there are people out there keen to learn the skills which separate an extremely accurate shot from a casual shooter. We look forward to meeting them and helping them realize their desire to pursue extreme rifle accuracy. All modules are conducted in an environment conducive to learning. Above all your safety is paramount but that doesn’t mean to say that you won’t have fun! Our instructors are very experienced and are there to ensure you get the most out of your training.”
“Our trainers are either former military skill at arms or sniper instructors, snipers and Army 100 shots with a wealth of operational experience and time behind the rifle. All carry a current civilian professional trainer’s qualification. Our facilities include two classrooms, one at Harleston HQ and the other at Stow Langtoft, both fitted with audio visual equipment and can seat up to 20 students. We have a 100m centrefire private shooting range, with covered firing points and covered bullet capture. When required we have access to all military ranges in the UK, facilitating firing up to 2km.”
Module 1: General Rifle
Module 2: Long Range
Module 3: Moving target
Remington 700 maintainer’s course AR15 Maintainers course Bespoke and one to one training Prices start at £250 James told me they will be producing small, promotional videos for their website so you can see firsthand what the various courses are all about. Though looking little different, Riflecraft now seems to have everything back in line and with Jonathan and James running their respective departments it looks like a bright future ahead for both the company and its customers.
Riflecraft Ltd, 01379 853 745