Shooting and well-being with Andy McLachlan

Andy McLachlan reckons he has the perfect pick-me-up following the restrictions of Covid – and that’s to get outside and go shooting.

Andy’s spent a lot of beautiful evenings stalking rabbits over the years, where he was able to unwind and enjoy being at one with nature.

As I write, we are ending another period of lockdown and hopefully by the time you read this we will be on our way back to normal, with the future looking brighter than it does at present.

I felt the reintroduced restrictions even harder than the first time. Having our liberties taken away was a different experience for us all. This was necessary to reduce the impact that the virus was having upon our population. The fact that all I had to worry about was my inability to go shooting or fishing puts things into perspective when we consider the suffering that this event has caused for many.

The people who are paid to look after us have once again stepped up to the mark and have delivered, and while I am in no way denigrating those people who have much more serious considerations such as health and jobs to worry about, I am nevertheless still missing my passions.

Regardless of how we go about enjoying our sport, I am in no doubt that there are many thousands of airgunners who feel the same as I do. It does not matter if we are serious target shooters or casual plinkers. All that matters is that we enjoy ourselves when we pick up the gun and send our pellets downrange. 

I felt much the same during the first lockdown, and it was a highlight of last year when a few of my fellow club members and I could finally get ourselves up to the Rivington outdoor range at Turton for some plinking action.

Andy loves visiting his club’s Turton range – it’s a beautiful place to while away the hours, let alone opening fire at a target

If you remember, we were only allowed to carry out our hobby outdoors to start with, with indoor ranges only reopening well after that. The effect this had on me and a few friends was that we started to enjoy our long-range plinking activities as much, if not more than what we were used to pre-Covid-19 lockdown. 

Back in the not too distant past when none of us had even heard about Covid, most of my time was spent concentrating upon shooting indoor benchrest competitions at one club or another. This had become my main shooting activity and had taken over from outdoor shooting. The lockdown restrictions put an end to all of that of course as we all locked away our guns and tried to keep our minds occupied with other tasks and activities.

The Green Social Prescribing initiative ( is something devised by some healthcare professionals and the government that describes a method of improving one’s health and general wellbeing by exercising outside. For those who have been involved with the outdoors for a long time, this comes as no surprise. Like many of us, I genuinely miss the opportunity to spend time outdoors doing the things that I like to do, either fishing or shooting.

We all benefit from spending time closer to nature where our minds are able to fully unwind from the many trials that we all face in our day-to-day lives. I don’t know about you, but I am seriously missing the opportunity of being out somewhere like a wood and just taking in the sounds and smells that have been part of my life for over 50 years. 

Up until this point I had taken all of it for granted. That will not be the case any longer though. I hadn’t quite realised just how important the “being there” part of it all was until it was taken away. 

I have also taken the time to seriously consider just what it is about the act of shooting that many of us find so appealing. I totally agree that it is a good feeling when you can put into practice all that you have learned through hard-won experience to make that particularly tricky target fall with a clank. 

These days it is more likely dropping onto a long-range paper target and scoring within a 10 ring. Still, the feeling of achievement is the same regardless.

But if you are not able to regularly pull off impressive shots, that does not mean that you cannot enjoy yourself just as much as the so-called expert. The most important consideration, bar none in my opinion, is that you are there to enjoy the challenge of your shooting and have the opportunity of just blasting away at any legitimate target, provided of course that you are acting safely and responsibly.

I think what I am trying to say is that just getting out and having a go, being outdoors sometimes and indoors at others, is something we all need to make the most of as and when we get the opportunity to do so. 

Andy’s son James takes part in a competition in the great outdoors, an experience that offers so much more than just the shooting itself

For those of us who have been gifted with an all-encompassing passion, it is very easy to become totally absorbed in whatever it is that we are doing, allowing the time to pass in a more relaxed manner and problems appearing to dissipate.

Being able to be with your friends and/or family is also something that I think we have all taken for granted for too long. We have to ask ourselves do we shoot just because we enjoy the challenge, or do we enjoy it so much because it allows us to spend time with other people who are as interested in what we like to do as we are ourselves? 

Many of us are no doubt missing the company of our shooting friends as much as we are actually missing the shooting itself. The government has clearly recognised that our freedoms to go outside and do the things we like to do are clearly highly beneficial to the health of individuals, if not the nation.

Therefore, I strongly suggest that we all take the opportunity of renewing any acquaintances we may have lost touch with, maintaining our current friendships and most importantly of all enjoying and appreciating the time we spend at the range doing what we all enjoy, shooting.

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