Shop Visit - Gardners Guns
- By Chris Parkin
- 3 Comments
- Last updated: 19/02/2019
I was fortunate to be invited up to Eskdalemuir in the Scottish borders to take a look around the Gardner’s Guns range and see just what is on offer for rifle shooters wanting to refine their art. Started out in 2005 by Marc and his wife Carolyn, initially offering a 100-yard range close to their shop in Longtown, just south of the Border. The associated club successfully attracted shooters of all ages and backgrounds; so, in 2017, Marc began the inspired, but arduous step, of taking an even longer leap into the unknown.
In partnership with Eskdale Experiences, based on the Over Cassock estate, access was gained onto 1500 acres of secluded land, just 19 miles from Lockerbie. This long, deep walled valley offered the perfect location to host a clubhouse and array of targets, ranging from 100 yards out to 2 miles from a single covered firing point containing six benches and a further 15 prone positions available from external hard standing. The range enables anyone to set up their gun from initial zero, through load development when customising ammunition, all the way through to accurately amending long range firing solutions and ballistic data in real world weather affected conditions.
This is quite an unusual capability and, as well as customers paying on a day to day basis, a commercial club facility allows more regular attendance, as well as the welcome opportunity to cater for manufacturers, distributors and retailers.
Hosting range-based events to showcase the latest and greatest kit in a private environment without any need for attendees to be moved around through the day enables focussing on the kit and minimal distractions with everything in one place.
I experienced this hospitality on my day there, with the introduction of a new Two-Mile target, clearly visibly to the naked eye far into the distance and making everything closer look easy in comparison. Full catering was provided, as well as disabled facilities to make anyone comfortably welcome with a roaring fire in August, a hearty sign of what winter guests will appreciate in a soundproofed room just 5 metres from the firing positions through the double-glazed screens.
Range officers are available to keep everything running smoothly, but as nobody needs to go forward to refresh targetry, the requirements for a relaxed environment are easier to hand. Long distance shooters should always have a spotter close to hand and bringing your own assistant will see them enabled with multiple spotting scopes hovering all around the firing point, and that is before you get to the guns available. As well as bringing rifles of your own, Gardner’s can provide a range of firearms suited to the environment with 308s, 6.5s, 7mm and even a 50 cal available on the day. This is one of few UK legal 50 cal. club guns as it has a shortened barrel limiting its muzzle velocity, and consequent energy, below 10,000 ft/lbs so if you want to shoot one and pay for just the ammo, on you go!
Alongside welcoming corporate facilities, Gardner’s are inviting and accepting sponsorship of the multiple target layouts with advertising hoarding set alongside them. These are a win-win situation to increase the numbers of bulletproof steel gongs on the range, whilst also making each set more obvious during communication, with names like the ’Savage Rifles targets’ or ‘Ammo Precision Cleaning’ layout that are already in position. This can be extremely helpful to novices when engaging such a vast array of possible targetry and, in coordination with a spotter, makes it so much easier to explain and agree on what is being aimed at and watched as well as hopefully being hit. Long-range shooting is far superior when done in pairs.
Marc was keen to point out the ability to set up a rifle from a single location and engage multiple targets out to ranges of your choice, to confirm and refine ballistic solutions, whilst removing the variable of multiple shooting positions and associated ergonomic needs is invaluable. It’s all done whilst still able to tackle the challenges of the crosswinds moving back and forth across the width of the valley. As well us back and forth and vertical ‘bumps’ of the air currents along your flightpath to steel targets clanging in the distance. Opening from 9 am to 5pm, also allows you to experience a full day’s variation, from cool mornings with no mirage through to the visual complications of boiling air through midday, and then the calming tendencies later towards the close of play in the afternoon.
In a nod towards full use of the facility in a competitive format, close collaboration with the US precision rifle series has allowed Gardner’s to instigate the UK’s own equivalent with the G.E.T.S. acronym standing for Gardeners Extreme Target Shoot. It’s a two-day competition for competitors to use ‘whatever they can carry’, engaging targets from 200 to 1000 yards from ten stations, firing ten shots per station. The comp costs £150 per shooter for both days, with individual or team entries allowed in the four-part series spread throughout the year. A variety of prizes are promised for individual and overall even finishes and again, sponsorship is welcomed from the trade, with the hope of temporarily covering all firing points alongside advertising specialist and market wide services appropriate to the growing format.
Also, let’s not forget, those long targets from 1000 yards out to two miles (3520 yards) are the perfect playground for extreme long range shooters to exercise larger calibres like 375/408 Cheytacs and 416 Barrets, as well as more usual 50 calibre club attendees without the ongoing struggle of using military ranges. Local accommodation is available at favourable rates in some great sporting countryside many will already have visited for deer stalking in particular. So, a road trip to cover all bases favours the Gardner’s location for rifle shooters to enjoy the technical, practice, practical and actual hunting factors of the rifle shooters sporting folio.
Contact: Gardner’s Guns Ltd, 01228 792535 www.gardnersguns.co.uk