About The Airgun Centre
It is often said that "self praise is no recommendation". Bearing this in mind, here is a recent article written about us by Pat Farey of Gun Mart magazine:-
Support your local gunshop
I have to admit that this month it's a little bit like going home, as not only is the Airgun Centre fairly local to me - in Rayleigh, Essex - but it's also the place that I bought my first air rifle as an adult.
As a spotty 'yoof' I'd had access to a typical selection of second-hand airguns at various times; a couple of Gats, a Webley Senior, a Hawk, a BSA Cadet, a Milbro Cougar etc... But then I discovered pubs, cars and girls, so shooting - which for my friends and I was always an informal 'back garden' sort of affair - took a back seat for a few years.
Later on I tried clay shooting, but it wasn't the same as air rifle shooting, so I headed off to The Airgun Centre where they sold me a second hand scoped HW80... and once again I was hooked - and I've never looked back. Enough of this reminiscing, that was all many moons ago, but it does show how long that the shop has been in business - for over 25 years - so it was fairly new back then, although the founder, John Stevens, had traded in airguns even earlier. Now the shop is owned by Peter Zamit, but even he has been with the shop on and off for around 20 years, starting as a school leaver and rising to become the manager, before eventually taking the business over in the summer of 2002 when John retired.
Peter's 'right hand man' in the business is Steven Harper, who, for some reason, everybody calls 'Eddie'. Peter reckons that he made a mistake when Steve first started working for him, he called him 'Eddie' once and the name has stuck.
New look - established values
For a short time in its history The Airgun Centre became part of Straight Shooters - same location, same owners, but a change of direction towards a more varied gunshop. Although the experiment worked to some extent, there is no doubt that the core business remains airguns. So even though the shop will still carry a selection of Rimfire rifles, shotguns, ammunition and accessories, there is no doubt that they will always be best known as a specialist air rifle supplier. Hence the decision to drop the name Straight Shooters at some point in the near future, and to continue with the name The Airgun Centre - that's what everybody in the sport has always known the shop as anyway!
Talking of specialisation, The Airgun Centre was one of the first airgun shops 'down south' to offer its customers a complete package at a reasonable price - rifle, scope, mounts, pellets and rifle case, all chosen to give a balanced outfit and to get you shooting straightaway. They still do this, and although the selection has always been good, it must be said that the huge variety of rifles now on offer is absolutely amazing. At the top end of the hunting air rifles, costing over £1000 a kit, there are the Theoben Rapid MkII (£1033) or the Logun MkII thumbhole (£1153), complete with your choice from three top scopes, mounts and case. But don't worry, you won't have to spend that much to get you into the field, as there are decent kits to suit every pocket right down to the BSA Supersport MKII with choice of 3-9x50 or 4-12x40 scope which comes in at just £268 for the rifle kit or £278 for the carbine. For less than £30 more you could have a kit based on one of GunMart and What Gun's recommended budget buys, the BSA Lightning with its shortened barrel and Volumetric silencer. Between the two extremes are mid priced guns from Air Arms, Daystate, Falcon, RWS, Webley, Weihrauch - the choice is yours.
The racks of airguns in the shop give a clue to the high turnover, because where you may see one rifle from each manufacturer in some gunshops, or one of each model in a particularly good shop, in the Airgun Centre there are two or three of each model - that's what you get when you specialise... a high turnover and high buying power, both of which help in keeping a good stock of rifles on hand. Believe me, there's nothing worse than answering a shop's advertisement only to find that the particular rifle that you want 'Isn't in stock at the moment'. Of course all shops might 'run dry' of a particular model from time to time - sometimes because of delivery problems from the manufacturer - but it's far less likely at a shop that's run like The Airgun Centre.
Apart from the complete kits, you can also buy just a rifle if you prefer, then choose all your own accessories. There are good stocks of scopes, mounts, slings, pellets, gunbags, targets and everything else that the airgunner needs. In addition the shop also does a good trade in air and CO2 pistols, as well as airsoft models. By the way, don't believe everything you hear about business being slack on the airgun scene - in the last six months The Airgun Centre have had their best sales figures ever... how bad's that?
Rock solid warranty
Another big plus - and one that's often overlooked - is that when you buy a gun from The Airgun Centre it's guaranteed for as long as you own it. This means that the company will rectify any fault with your purchase. The work will either be completed in their own workshop or by the original manufacturer. In addition, they will thoroughly test and overhaul your rifle when required - all free of charge. Now how many companies would do that? Pete Zamit says, "We want to give our customers peace of mind. When they buy from us they are assured that in the unlikely event that something goes wrong with their rifle, there's a completely free repair service to back them up - all the customer pays is the postage to and from the workshop, and they can avoid even that if they drop the rifle off and pick it up personally."
It's hard to put a value on a warranty like this, but at the very least it gives the purchaser confidence in the quality of the product. After all, the Airgun Centre couldn't afford to sell inferior goods, as they would always be coming back!
I asked Peter what his 'best sellers' were, and was not surprised to hear that the BSA Lightning, Air Arms TX200 HC and Weihrauch HW97 all did well in the spring gun section, while the Air Arms S410 and Theoben Rapid MkII were both doing well in the PCP class. What did he consider the best value for money buy? He chose the RWS Excalibre because it has a tried and tested action sitting in a top quality walnut stock - and all at a very affordable price. The latest guns to look out for are the new Logun Sweet 16 and the electronic Daystate Mk3 - regarding the latter, he sold the first one on the same day that it came through the door, and has now got six more on order (and I think that they're all spoken for).