Atherton Indoor range
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- Last updated: 19/12/2016
Great news for air rifle shooters in the North West at last, there’s a really well-organised and affordable alternative to shooting outdoors, with enough range distance to satisfy even the most ardent long range specialist!
I have just returned from an invitation only opening of A.I.R’s brand-new addition to its already impressive set up, and there is still much more to come. As if it’s not enough to have a great 42 yard range facility complete with a wealth of varied targets including 30 metre Bench-rest and a separate Pistol Range, an additional facility has just been opened upstairs giving a superb 75, yes, 75 yards of usable range. This addition surely makes A.I.R. one of the top indoor facilities for air rifle shooting in the country and as I said earlier, there is more to come.
All this is due to the hard work and dedication of Andy Beckley and his partner Becky. With the help of their hardworking staff, they have given this indoor range a real boost with their professional and friendly approach to airgun shooters needs and expectations. This was reflected in the respect and affection shown to them by all the members present at the opening of the new range facility.
Imagine a cold winter’s morning; arriving at the facility you are greeted at the entrance by Becky who books you in and gives you an overview of the facility. If it is your first visit, a safety briefing is the order of the day before you are allowed on the range. Next step is to order a full English breakfast from the café inside the building, and I can tell you from experience that it is top rate! This can be consumed inside the range only, yards away from the action, at the breakfast bar facility.
A well-stocked shop has also opened, offering visitors the chance to purchase a variety of shooting equipment from pellets to the latest rifles and accessories. This is run by the Gunshop manager Steve McQueen.
Inside this converted mill, heating is installed throughout the building, including the firing ranges, so no cold fingers on steel here. If you have your own rifle you choose one of the ranges and get stuck in from one of the substantial solid benches that run the full-width of each range. If you are without a rifle, no problem! Club rifle/scope combinations are available for hire consisting of brand new Air Arms S400s at £5 a session. As with all the pneumatic rifles within A.I.R., be they hired or owned, the air is free!
There is adequate room for around 26 shooters on the 40 yard range downstairs with targets set out at random distances to the back wall. Safety is paramount throughout the facility with steel backstops and lined walls with no danger of ricochets from stray pellets.
Upstairs on the 75 yard range, targets are set out across the width of the range in banks at five yard intervals from 20 yards to the maximum 75 yards. The bench can accommodate 24 shooters who all see pretty much the same sight picture. This is actually a great safety feature that keeps the shooting angles narrow with less crossover fire than would be seen with random distance targets. An excellent facility for setting up a rifle or checking pellets.
Just as downstairs, all shooting positions are heated and comfortable. There are also a number of gates that allow positional shooting for those wishing to practice a given discipline, be it prone, sitting, kneeling or standing.
On the day I attended there were upwards of 50 people present to witness the new 75 yard range opening. The East Lancs Air Ambulance, which A.I.R. supports, were represented by Liz Greenwood and Andy’s team of helpers, plus many others who have played a role in making this a top-rate facility were present. In keeping with Andy’s professional approach, everybody got a full cooked breakfast as they were treated to a fantastic pyrotechnic and laser light show utilising the full width and length of the range. It was breath-taking, and a great show to mark the occasion.
Andy, Becky and their team deserve every success in this venture. Offering airgun shooters a top-quality indoor facility with all the trimmings isn’t an easy task. I believe that they have succeeded and then some. Being only a few miles away from my location, it is a place that I will be visiting on a regular basis in the future.
A session at the range will cost you £6 and £5 to hire a club rifle. There are no membership fees. A.I.R. hold an on-going 30 metre bench rest comp and on Sundays they host a fun competition shoot.
Opening times are: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 12pm - 9pm and Saturday & Sunday 9am - 5pm. And there are excellent parking facilities.