Rifleman Firearms Range visit
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- Last updated: 19/12/2016
It is always delightful to get a call from the Editor asking: “Will you visit a shooting shop near you?” Me? Visit a shop? Silly question. So it was, that in the middle of hurricane Griselda or some such, I found myself pulling into the driveway of Rifleman Firearms, which has its shop on a small farm type business park just outside Curry Rivel in Somerset. The reason for being there was not just to look around the shop, or to meet Mark Tutton or John Mulhearn, pleasant though all that was… but more of that later.
The shop at Rifleman is extremely clean, modern and well-stocked. Their two specialisms are fullbore rifles and air rifles, although they have a stock of shotguns too. For the fullbore shooter there is a great stock of rifles, scopes, mounts, cleaning kit etc. They also have plenty of reloading kit too, including presses, dies, powder measures etc, and bullets in a bewildering array of sizes and types, cases, primers and loaded ammunition in a variety of calibres – in short, the works. Rifleman offer a reloading course too, so they can help you get started in this great past-time, allowing you to ‘roll your own’ to match your rifle.
In the middle of the shop is where the ammo is; bullets on one side, airgun pellets on the other. I saw JSB, Air Arms, H&N, RWS and Eley in the cupboard, with plenty more. At the far end of the display is an excellent selection of Sportsmatch and Hawke mounts in both 1-inch and 30mm. Scopes are in three different display cabinets, with a good showing of Hawke, Sightron, Leupold and Bushnell, and not just scopes in boxes, as there are a half dozen scopes mounted on stocks, like you see at shows, right by a widow that looks out over the Somerset Levels, so you can really get an idea of which scope will suit your requirements, nice idea. Nearby is a full display of Butler Creek scope covers and over to the right a range of Chrony chronoscopes. Air rifles cover the whole one wall, with a good display of Air Arms, both PCP and springer, BSA the same, Walther, the same and Impact Airguns PCPs (the only place I have seen them in stock). Finally, at the door end of the shop, is a fine display of outdoor clothing and boots, with gun bags, cases and safes just to the right.
So, all the way round, a really well-stocked shop. But there is more.
Unusually for an airgun shop, Rifleman Firearms also have a club; two clubs in fact, as they have Rifleman Rangers for shooters over fourteen years of age and Rifleman Rascals for the under 14s. All the youngsters need a mum or dad along with them but speaking from years of personal experience, there is nothing like having your butt kicked on the range by your son or daughter… or both, and I really think this is an excellent way to get the next generations educated, trained and enthusiastic about shooting. The Rascals and Rangers meet on different nights and all new shooters of any age are given a full-range of training on all aspects of shooting, which leads neatly into a sister company Aim Training.
Aim offers a full theoretical training service for airguns, rimfire or full bore. The training covers safety, ballistics, optics, setting up and maintenance, which is just the kind of thing a new shooter or even one moving from one discipline to another could need. At the end of the course a Certificate of Competence is issued, which although not required, finds favour with Avon and Somerset Constabulary.
It is quite deliberate that I have left the best bit till last, as that best bit is pretty impressive to say the least: the range. Some while ago Mark decided that they just had nowhere sensible to test air rifles and let shooters try them. He spoke to the landlord and the long and the short of that discussion is a brand new 12 lane air gun range, equipped with covered, heated firing points. There are 10 open lanes, with targets every fiveyards from 15- to 90-… that’s right, 90-yards! There are an additional two firing points, which have 60-yard windless ranges. By windless I mean that they are alongside the other 10 lanes, but have sides and a roof, effectively making them indoor lanes. They are each set-up with target holder that can be moved to any distance using a pulley rope arrangement. The firing points are all lit and heated and when shooting is taking place there are dive bottles available to refill pre-charged rifles (for a small fee). The outdoor lanes are all floodlit, so on a wet winter evening you can happily sit snug and warm, shooting at the spinners and knock up/down targets to your heart’s content.
If that were not enough, Mark is talking about constructing a Hunter Field Target course, a Field Target course and a clubhouse, and holding regular competitions.
This is a great facility with a well-stocked shop and a warm welcome from Mark and John. I really could find myself visiting Rifleman Ranges frequently… very frequently.
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