Tour: Meeting the future of BSA Guns
PUBLISHED: 13:43 26 June 2018
The editor meets the future of BSA guns
Like many people, I was deeply saddened to hear that there will be no shooting events at all when the Commonwealth Games are held in Birmingham in 2022. The reason given was that shooting is only done by old men, and is therefore not inclusive enough for modern society. Of course, they’re wrong because shooting is enjoyed by young and old, men and women. With that thought in my mind, I was happy to visit Birmingham, to meet the young people who work at Birmingham Small Arms and to find out how this great British company is investing in the future.
I was met in the design office by a friendly face that I know well – Stephen Greenacre. He became one of BSA’s key design and development engineers at just 25 years of age, and now forms a significant part of the team. His background is in the aerospace industry and he played a large part in the design and development of BSA’s impressive Defiant bullpup. In the same office, Ollie and Chelsea are enjoying apprentice positions, whilst a fourth member, Lewis, was at college on the day I visited. All are in their twenties.
This represents a huge investment by the company, in the long-term future, and a route for these people to develop their skills in a city once famous for gun-making. As high-volume production jobs move to the Far East, Britain’s future lies in our specialist skills and in doing the things that other countries can’t. This requires investment and commitment for the long term, and it’s no coincidence that many of the best pre-charged pneumatic rifles are made in England. The Chinese might be able to make very inexpensive break-barrel springers, but the best sporting air rifles still come from the UK.
Alongside the computers and 3D printers, I noted many rough prototypes of guns that had been built to test ideas; for example, a very early version of the Defiant that had a bolt action, rather than a side lever. Sure, they were a long way from the finished item, but they’d done their work in a test rig, and in the shooting tunnels at the rear of the factory either to prove the idea, or to show the direction that should be taken.
For me, it was the ideal response to the contention that shooting is only for the old. Meeting the young designers proved to me that the sport does indeed have a long and innovative future ahead, and I congratulate BSA for playing their part in making it happen.