AoA: We asked a good airgunning friend of ours, who lives in the UK, out in the wilds of East Anglia, to give us a regular flavour of life there. Here is his latest post.
Old friends re-appear after a long absence.
Summer 2017. It’s been a week of sweltering 90F temperatures by UK standards, particularly as our houses don’t have air conditioning.
Meals are taken outside, under the shade of our decades-old Allington Pippin apple tree. This is especially enjoyable when friends drop round for a bite to eat.
So, it was in this dappled shade, that we were delighted to meet up again with Ben Taylor, airgun guru and, of course, half of the original Theoben airgun company. Theoben rifles are still much sought after today. I used to work alongside Ben but, since he’s retired, he’s spent a lot of time on his BMW 1300 motorbike. He was just back from attending the Moto GP in Spain.
And that was the starting point for an amazing story. While in Spain, Ben met a British airgunner who lives there. They had been chatting previously about airguns, and 2 had piqued Ben’s interest quite considerably. One of them was Ben’s very own engraved Sirocco .20 calibre that he had used around 1985/86. Its condition was ‘almost as new’; its serial number is #1000. The other rifle was one of his famous and rare Metisse air rifles: No.8, in .177 calibre.
Ben then told us the fantastic tale of the Sirocco. Many years ago, when the company was at its base in Cambridgeshire in Britain, Ben was just closing up for the day when an Aston Martin swept into the car park and a man leapt out. He said he wanted an air rifle. “I’m afraid they’re all built to order and we have none spare.” Undaunted, the visitor said, “what about that one then?” pointing to Ben’s own rifle on the rack. Ben said, “It’s mine, and anyway you can’t afford it”. But Aston Martin drivers are a determined bunch! “I’ll give you a thousand pounds for it,” ($1800 in those days and about 5 times the going rate for a rifle then). The reply was typical of the Ben we know and love! “Would you like it in a box or a bag?” That was the last Ben saw of the rifle for over 30 years.
So, it’s astonishing that the Sirocco has re-surfaced after all these years, purely by chance. And of course, Ben couldn’t resist buying it. The Metisse looks like it has never been shot, and Ben bought that too.
But it’s also typical of Ben, that when he got home to the UK with the rifles, and when he had done admiring them, that, as he said to us, “I’m not really sure why I bought them, as I really, truly, have retired from air rifles.”
So, we’re not surprised that they’re now up both for sale at over £2,000 for Sirocco and over £3,000 for the Metisse. As for retirement from airguns? Somehow, we’re not surprised he’s planning on coming to Extreme Benchrest this year!
Until next time,
Get out and shoot!