THE CLUB SCENE

Our new con­trib­u­tor, Pe­ter Yeats, tells us why his club is a great place to visit

Air Gunner - - CONTENTS -

Pe­ter Yeats takes us to his lo­cal, Steve Smith’s Shoot­ing Ground, to prove the ad­van­tages of join­ing a club

Oh yeah! Over- loud mu­sic, over- priced drinks, too dark to see clearly and im­pos­si­ble to hold a con­ver­sa­tion; what’s not to like? I’m jok­ing, of course, but only in part. A club that we SHOULD all be en­joy­ing is our lo­cal shoot­ing club or shoot­ing range. The non­shoot­ing pub­lic might per­ceive us as camo- clad, soli­tary fig­ures pur­su­ing our hobby in self- im­posed iso­la­tion, but a brief visit to a shoot­ing club or range would soon dis­pel that im­pres­sion. My lo­cal range is Steve Smith’s Shoot­ing Ground, just a cou­ple of miles north of New­cas­tle Air­port, and ev­ery visit is truly a plea­sure. A gen­eral hub­bub of con­ver­sa­tion is a good in­di­ca­tor of friend­li­ness and that’s cer­tainly the case here.

THE SHOOT­ING GROUNDS

We air­gun­ners share this shoot­ing ground with clay- pigeon shoot­ers, whose range is to our left, so the club­house can be home to an eclec­tic crowd, es­pe­cially if the weather re­ally closes in or it is very cold. The wood- burn­ing stove, pool ta­ble and re­fresh­ments can make a break be­tween shoot­ing ses­sions a plea­sure in it­self! Clays land­ing on the banks, at about 90 yards, also pro­vide im­promptu chal­lenges for even greater tar­get va­ri­ety.

Al­though Jack and Chris Reed, the own­ers of the shoot­ing ground, con­cen­trate on clay- pigeon shoot­ing and tu­ition, Range War­den, Steve Mal­colm, is sharply fo­cused on pro­vi­sion and range de­vel­op­ment for air­gun­ners, and looks af­ter our needs very well.

On ar­rival, meet­ing the crowd of the day, ex­chang­ing greet­ings, and

ban­ter, might start pro­ceed­ings, but some days are so pop­u­lar that bag­ging your seat can be your first pri­or­ity. FT shoot­ers tend to con­gre­gate on Wed­nes­days for pre- com­pe­ti­tion prac­tice, so there can be quite a crowd, but if you like see­ing some top- end pre­ci­sion air­guns and com­pe­ti­tion- stan­dard shoot­ing, Wed­nes­days of­fer both. Reg­u­lars in­clude in­ter­na­tional FT shoot­ers and be­gin­ners with their first springers; what­ever your air­gun­ning ex­pe­ri­ence, you’ll find shoot­ers just like you with whom to move for­ward, in both skills and en­joy­ment.

NEW­COM­ERS

Most days there are a good num­ber of reg­u­lars who make all new­com­ers feel both wel­come and in­cluded. On my first visit, anx­iously car­ry­ing my first PCP and kit to the fir­ing line, I won­dered whether or not I and my gun would fit in with the other en­thu­si­asts. My con­cerns were com­pletely un­founded.

“Hello. I’m John,” said a shooter with a Steyr FT gun sit­ting on the bench in front of him. “Just pick a seat, and get your­self set­tled in. When you’ve done that, pop up to the club­house and pay Jack or Chris your fee. Then, you’re set for the day.”

‘How easy was that?’ I thought. Hardly, had I re­turned to the fir­ing line and started align­ing my scope when John said, “Would you like me to sight that in for you? Done it dozens of times.”

TEST­ING, TEST­ING

Within min­utes of ar­riv­ing, I had my gun sighted in and sev­eral small groups of .22 pel­lets lay on the bench in front me, do­nated by the other .22 users – ‘Try these. They work re­ally well in my gun.’ So the po­ten­tially te­dious and time- con­sum­ing process of find­ing the best pel­let for my bar­rel was also over in a mat­ter of mo­ments – Air Arms Di­abolo Field or RWS Su­per­field.

Af­ter a quick trip back to the club­house shop to pur­chase two tins of RWS Su­per­field, I was ready for the great day that fol­lowed. A setup of my gun and pel­let se­lec­tion, that I thought might take hours or even days, ac­com­plished in lit­er­ally min­utes. Bril­liant!

Three vis­its later, it was my op­por­tu­nity to help a first-visit shooter, re­turn­ing to air­gun­ning af­ter many years, to set his scope for ey­e­re­lief, cant and zero. His de­light at the pre­cise ac­cu­racy of his S410, once it was set up, re­ally made my day.

The en­thu­si­asm and sup­port of the other shoot­ers are, in them­selves, enough to rec­om­mend join­ing a club or lo­cal range, but other pro­vi­sions for air­gun­ners at Steve Smith’s Shoot­ing Ground in­clude a well- stocked shop with a va­ri­ety of air­guns, an excellent range of high- qual­ity pel­lets, tar­gets and air- tanks for sale, as well as re­fresh­ments.

ON-SITE SER­VICES

Ser­vices in­clude fills for PCPs and al­though there is no on- site facility to re­fill div­ing tanks, reg­u­lar shoot­ers can leave their tanks with the Range War­den and he’ll get them filled. Help­fully, small gun­smithing is also of­fered at the range, such as spring re­place­ment for pis­ton guns and trig­ger re­pairs.

Com­ing along shortly is the sum­mer com­pe­ti­tion, open to reg­u­lar shoot­ers of all abil­i­ties. Dip­ping a toe in the wa­ter of a friendly com­pe­ti­tion, to see if you like it, is an­other ad­van­tage of get­ting down to your lo­cal club or range.

The com­pre­hen­sive pro­vi­sion and the ca­ma­raderie that cer­tainly char­ac­terise Steve Smith’s Shoot­ing Ground are also to be found at shoot­ing ranges and clubs near you. If you’re still to en­joy what they have to of­fer, I urge you to find your lo­cal club or range and pay it a visit.

If you’re like me, the ex­pe­ri­ence will come as a rev­e­la­tion and im­prove your en­joy­ment of our great sport im­mensely.

Give it a try – se­ri­ously, what’s not to like?

“com­pre­hen­sive pro­vi­sion and the ca­ma­raderie that cer­tainly char­ac­terise Steve Smith’s Shoot­ing Ground”

MAIN: There’s no short­age of tar­gets here! RIGHT: The club room is warm and com­fort­able

TOP RIGHT: There is some very se­ri­ous kit on the shoot­ing line

TOP LEFT: No mat­ter what type of gun you like to shoot, you’ll be wel­come

BELOW: Pis­tol shoot­ers can find find plenty of fun

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