It has been a while but we are back with another “Who Am I?” our series of short interviews with people within the shooting community to highlight just how diverse the community is and that shooters are ordinary people from all walks of life.
Today it features Jon, a translator and editor who also happens to be a registered firearms dealer (RFD).
Hi Jon, tell us about yourself?
I’ve lived in Norfolk for 28 years, having originally come here to study. I did Scandinavian languages at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and then set up a translating business specialising in scientific and academic stuff.
Over my career, I’ve done all manner of work from doctoral theses to ad jingles for headache pills and, on one memorable occasion, a speech for the King of Sweden.
In 2012, something quite bizarre happened. The Swedish secret service threw a James Bond party in Stockholm for all their counterparts. It cost a sack of money, but they didn’t account for it properly. The resulting scandal brought an immediate clampdown on government spending. My work abruptly died and stayed dead for the next two years. Thanks, 007.
Around that time, supplies of reloading gear were getting harder to obtain from the US due to the post-Obama panic. So, I got into reloading equipment and started up the RFD.
And that’s why I now find myself in an office/workshop that sells guns and provides translations. You couldn’t make it up.
How did you get into shooting?
I’d been interested in guns since my age was in single digits, but there wasn’t much info out there on how they actually worked. That was the hook for me.
I was about 10 and, visiting York on holiday, we found this bookshop in The Shambles where I discovered Small Arms of the World by Joseph E. Smith. I spent all my holiday money on that book. My parents had peace and quiet and I finally had some answers to my questions.
For someone who liked firearms I was late getting into proper shooting. My first firearm was a 410 Yildiz side-by-side shotgun. Those little Turkish 410s are incredible for money.
It all blossomed from there. Soon after, I got permission on a local airfield and got two rimfire rifles. Then I joined a gun club and eventually got a Marlin lever and a black powder revolver.
Then came the reloading. Oh boy.
I think my wife probably rued the day she ever said, “you look a bit glum. Why don’t you order yourself a reloading press?” Not many guys are that lucky!
What type of shooting do you currently participate in?
Mostly target shooting but I do like my pistol calibres and shorter-range stuff. Also, classic stuff (like my 30-40 Krag carbine) and what’s left of pistol shooting (my 44 Mag long revolver and various muzzle loading pistols). I have a few rifle calibres to keep me busy and there’s even a small cannon!
Do you see yourself taking up any other form of shooting in the future?
I really wanted to be a pistol shooter, but I missed the boat in the UK and couldn’t get into it before most pistols were outlawed. So, I’m considering emigrating to the US or Canada at some point, to finally lead the kind of shooting life I want. Life’s too short!
How important is shooting to you?
It’s become my life really. I’ve now got the RFD and all that, so most days I’m dealing with something shooting-related. I’m also webmaster for my club.
I have been unbelievably fortunate in being able to turn a hobby into a job. A word of advice if you want to do the same. Be careful; you can easily wreck a perfectly good hobby.
What has been the best shooting experience for you so far?
Early morning at Stanta. The brollies are useful in sun or rain down there.
Some of my best times have been spent down on Stanta (the Stanford Training Area near Thetford). The atmosphere at those shoots is great. You can sit and natter all day with your mates, cook up some grub on a primus and spend some time in the fresh air with the occasional, divine whiff of burning gunpowder.
What other hobbies/interests do you have?
I play the guitar and have lessons with a professional concert player who is just incredible at what he does. My own playing is doing okay, but I need to spend more time on it.
I also have a little flock of pet mice. Some plain colours and some Siamese sealpoint or bluepoint. For just some fresh water and a teaspoonful of food each day you get so much in return. They all have distinct personalities, likes and dislikes.
Another thing I love is going to the cinema and collecting film music. Sir George Martin once commented that film music was really the only accessible symphonic music currently being written. He’s right, I think.
What changes to firearms law would you like to see in the future?
Simplicity and fairness.
I’d like shooters to be able to work directly with the authorities to design a workable, common-sense and drastically simplified system. Yeah, of course I’d like pistols reinstated, but we’ve a lot of ground to cover if that’s to happen. I’d like to see a more collaborative and less arbitrary system.
We have a fatalistic view in shooting that the sport will eventually be killed off by the government. This will become a self-fulfilling prophecy if we let it.
We need to be positive. We recently had a small victory with the de-restriction of Section 5 projectiles, so why not work for some more changes?
We need to engage openly and positively with policymakers and the public to show them that shooting is just a hobby like any other.
Thank you to Jon for taking part, we hope to make this a regular feature once again and will be looking for interviewees very soon!