In the mid-50s and event took place which would change the course of AYA’s fortunes and future: two English brothers, holidaying in Spain, happened to visit one or two of the gun shops in Barcelona. The guns they were shown impressed them by their honest quality and they saw in them great potential in the British market. Armed with a list of gun making firms in the Basque Country, Andrew and Peter King returned to Spain and started making calls. They visited the majority of the gun makers and, with one exception, they were met with uncompromising ‘take it or leave it’ attitudes, along the lines of ‘this is what we make, how many do you want?’ The sole exception was AYA.
The Kings agreed to help AYA design and produce an ‘English range’ of shotguns specially made for the British market. During the course of that meeting, a relationship was formed which was to transform the firm from a provincial gunmaker, known mainly in Spain, into one of the best-known gun making names in the world.
The Kings Brothers came back to Spain with two shotguns on which the ‘English range’ would be based. The first was a ‘Holland and Holland’sidelock and the second was a Westley Richards boxlock with an Anson &Deely action. Both guns were considered to be among the finest examples of their type at the time. These became the basis of four classic AYA models – the Nº 1, the Nº 2, the Nº 4 and the ’Best Quality Boxlock’ and they were the core of the AYA range.
In the 60s and 70s, the Basque gun making industry concentrated principally on the production of side-by-side shotguns, interspersed with a few over-and-unders and some single-barrel guns. The majority of firms consisted of handful of workers working at a bench in a small workshop. AYA was very much the exception, with its imposing factory, a workforce which reached 500 at one point and an annual production of up to 20,000 guns.
Since 1988 the firm has been constantly expanding its network of distributors and clients across the globe. Every market has its own preferences and AYA has enthusiastically embraced all the many variations which makes its guns popular in different countries.
This close working relationship with its distributors, which began with ASI in 1958 and continues into the new millennium with its other importers, has become the corner-stone of AYA’s way of doing business, and new generation of shooters and lovers of fine guns have been the beneficiaries.
In this way, AYA is not only continuing a long tradition of gun making excellence, but it is also working to ensure that the whole of the Basque gun making industry can flourish in the future.
Since 1945, AYA has produced in excess of 600,000 shotguns of types and grades. At the present time, AYA is celebrating 100 years of gun making and positioning itself to face the challenges of the 21st century.