Andy McGarty explains your options if you are keen to shoot, but are reluctant to join a shooting club…
Clubs are not for everyone. Luckily there has been an increase in dedicated ranges where you can just turn up and shoot. Some need you to book first, but it’s advisable to call first in any case to arrange your visit and ensure they have space. They will also have guns to rent, so if you are deciding what will be your first airgun, you can try a few and get some advice before spending your cash.
The only legal restriction on shooting at a range is that you must not be prohibited from handling firearms under Section 21 of the Firearms Act. Each range may have its own restrictions, so check before you visit.
Crackshot is located in Newton Abbot in Devon and operates as a shop on the ground floor, with two ranges on the first floor. One is a dedicated airsoft pistol range, but the other allows you to shoot legal-limit air rifles and pistols out to 20 metres. Paper targets can be set out at any distance and easily retrieved using a pulley system. The rear wall is covered with HFT-style resettable targets and spinners. These are regularly painted so you can clearly see where you are hitting.
Other dedicated ranges worth checking out include:
• Phoenix Range, Barnsley (www.phoenixrange.co.uk) is a high-tech shooting experience with electronic target return and a live camera on your target.
• Pete’s Airgun Farm, Essex (www.airgunfarm.co.uk) invites you practise with your rifle and go hunting as well.
• Rifleman Firearms, Hambridge, Somerset (www.riflemanfirearms.co.uk) includes the famous cow bell challenge at the 90-yard mark. There are 12 lanes, including two electronic targets in their own tunnel to stop the wind from ruining your day.
Find out more: Shooting ranges
What else is on offer?
Most ranges will offer to fill your bottle or charge your rifle while you’re there. Accessories, such as a range of popular pellets, may be on offer, along with rifle or pistol hire.
Why don’t clubs provide this service?
Home Office-approved clubs are not legally allowed to provide day membership, and you can’t shoot on your first visit. Some will have guest days, however, where you are allowed to shoot as a non-member.
Should I just join a club instead?
Club membership offers you a specialist facility where you can shoot in a safe environment. Plus you can meet like-minded shooters, talk about airguns and drink tea.