Meet Jason Perry and Lewis Colson – and see how they’re turning a great idea into a working reality
For me, August bank holiday usually means a long weekend of ‘roughing it’ with family and good friends. Three nights in a tent or hammock in an orchard, at our friend’s land. Polishing off some ales whilst cooking over a roaring open fire; the men plinking down the bottom end of the field, and the kids flying around on quad bikes at the top end – a perfect summer weekend.
What I didn’t know was that 2017’s August bank holiday would be the fuel for an idea; a fantastic opportunity to make a real difference not only for the area we live in, but also for this wonderful sport of airgun shooting that three likeminded friends and I have grown to love over the years.
This year, Lewis Colson, with full support from Hazel the landowner, and I decided that we would take advantage of the tree layout and create ourselves a 35-yard range, shaded from the sun and protected from the wind, where we could plink away safely.
We got to work one Saturday morning, after arming ourselves with a chainsaw and hedge trimmer, and set about making a clearing. We followed the tree line and cleared the floor area all the way along the bottom edge of the land that borders the orchard, and five hours later we had a 35m long x 2m wide, 2m high tunnel, with a large fallen-tree backstop at the bottom, a two-person shooting table at the top, distance markers from 10 yards to 35 yards, and an array of spinners, resetting animal silhouettes, a target-card holder and anything else we could find to shoot at. As you can imagine, we spent pretty much the rest of the weekend on our range, and knowing we had created a safe structured environment got us thinking … ‘If we can create this in five hours, what could we do for the sport and the community if we had a proper plan?’
A week later, Lew and I took a day trip to A Different Calibre Ltd, an indoor range run by a friend of mine in Letchworth Garden City. The idea was to see what a professionally run airgun range looked like but maybe take away a few ideas. Not only did we get all of that – and Lew bought himself his first PCP – but by the time we left we were both buzzing with motivation to start looking into taking our idea forward. Funnily enough, the whole of the hour and a half drive home was spent throwing ideas at each other about setting up our own club; we already had a perfect club site, with a bonus; Lew’s 4½- acre field can
house a 100-yard range, a club house, parking … and still have loads of room left to hold rally weekends with camping and competitions. The possibilities are endless! We also knew that we couldn’t do it alone, so we enlisted two other pals to join us on this epic journey.
James Faulkner – a member of Merlin’s committee has offered a wealth of ‘club’ knowledge, and Shane Borrett – A welder fabricator who is creating a mass amount of FT and plinking targets for us.
That was it! The touch paper had been lit and we were off. The ‘606 Airgun Club’ was to become a reality; somewhere like-minded enthusiasts could come together in a safe, structured environment, share best practice, hone skills, practise techniques, and generally have a great time whilst promoting the sport and helping to reduce the stigma around airgun abuse. We look to offer plenty of shooting variety to cater for a wide range of skills and experience, and we hope to be able to train newcomers in safe gun handling, effective techniques in breathing, trigger position, stances, and how to respect airgun law.
So far, we have had overwhelming support from within the industry, friends, family, local businesses, and Merlin’s Archery and Airgun Club, the closest club to us, has also offered their support. Chris Winkless, another close friend from Wigston Signs and Graphics, has created a club Logo for us, and will cater for all our clubhouse and range safety signage. Nikki from Customtargets.com has been very supportive and we are looking to work closely with Leicestershire Airguns so that we can offer club guns to rent for newcomers to try as well.
As you can appreciate not everything is free so we are also looking for donations/ sponsorships to help with start-up costs.
Jason and Lewis at the gateway to their dream project.
Top end of the first range.
Club Secretary Shane welding a target.
Club site layout plan.