On International Women’s Day, FSC4B catches up with Sam MacArthur, MD of the UK’s only wholly female owned and managed arms and ammunition company.
Viking Arms is a family business that was set up by my mother and father; when he became ill with cancer I was asked if I wanted to return and help support the business. At the time, I was 28 and a newly qualified barrister but I made the decision to head back home and support the family and the business that my parents had worked so hard to set-up.
I started off in the business selling Wellington boots and then moved into a media and marketing role to help digitise the business. My knowledge of law has also been incredibly useful especially in terms of confidence but also when understanding contractual law.
Did you always aspire to a career in this industry? Would your younger self recognise you now?
As a child I remember being in the office frequently, sitting behind the desk and pretending to work in the company. The business was like an extension of our family, one of our employees, Janet, who still works for Viking Arms today, used to babysit me when I was four years old. Although I didn’t aspire to a career in this industry, I’m incredibly content with where I am today and how the business has grown to become a prime MOD contractor and supplier to every UK police force..
Did you grow up in a shooting sports environment? If so, how has this shaped your understanding?
We weren’t a traditional fieldsports family, rather my father Geoffrey Brown, had a passion for the mechanics and engineering of guns. Back in the 1960’s he was running a magazine called Guns Review which he then sold to Colin Greenwood. My father was consistently being approached by arms manufacturers who were asking him for possible contacts in the UK to sell their products through and that lighted the entrepreneurial spark in my father. Between him and my mother Hilary, who was the admin side of the business, they founded Viking Arms and signed their first deal to distribute Ruger firearms in the UK – a client that we still distribute for over 50 years on. As a set of role models, I couldn’t have asked for better ones.
Where do you want Viking Arms to be in 5 years?
I want Viking to be a healthy company, forward moving but at an achievable pace.
What’s more important, business acumen or industry experience?
Passion and experience are fantastic but you need business acumen to succeed.
Have you ever made any mistakes in your career?
Many. You learn by your mistakes, then you learn it is better to learn by other peoples’ mistakes.
What are the top three qualities you look for in a new hire or employee?
- Work ethic
How can we make shooting sports more diverse and accessible to under-represented groups?
The beauty of our industry is that it’s filled with people who are passionate about their way of life. More often than not, I come across people in this field who are all embracing and who delight in sharing their world and experiences with others.
Encouraging people to share their pride in what they love and their shooting sports pursuits will help to give people who are currently outside of the fieldsports world the knowledge that they’ll be welcomed with open arms and the courage to get involved.
Female hunters like Larysa Switlyk and Rachel Carrie can be household names within the hunting and shooting communities of the US and UK respectively. Their hunting exploits on social media come under excessive public scrutiny in comparison to the exposure received by male hunters for the same type of social media posts. Should ‘huntresses’ temper their posts to safeguard the industry from unwanted scrutiny?
All should be appropriate – given the fact that our sport/industry is constantly on an uphill struggle in the general publics’ perception – if people are genuinely passionate about the sport they will always be very careful to ensure the message they are conveying is appropriate. Everyone has a responsibility to be a positive ambassador for the sport if they want to continue enjoying it. Those that drop those standards have their own agenda – it’s not about the sport.
There’s a big difference between a skilled huntress who happens to be pretty and a pretty girl that happens to have a gun.
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