In a new feature, we take a look at airgun clubs up and down the country. This month it’s the turn of Cromer Air Rifle Club, which is in our part of the world, Eastern England.
Cromer Air Rifle Club was established in 1974. Like most airgun clubs at that time, it was an indoor range, which meant shooting paper targets at six yards, using 6 ft/lb air rifles – not too challenging, but great fun when you’re in competition. But as the sport waned in popularity, so did local competition. Airgun clubs’ membership was diminishing, and some clubs just folded. For the handful of members remaining in the Cromer Air Rifle Club, indoor shooting was not much fun.
So, in the 1980s, the club moved outside, to a range where members could shoot at 55-yard targets, using 12 ft/lb guns. The ft/lb unit is a measurement of kinetic energy, calculated by multiplying half the mass of the projectile by the velocity squared. It is a legal requirement that an airgun that shoots over 12 ft/lbs (approximately equal to 16 joules) must have a firearms certificate.
Outdoors, with mud, foliage, nice views and weather, competition wasn’t so important. Shooting with a few friends, or even alone, was a pleasure. Now airgun shooting was fun again, and, as you would expect, club membership grew.
The Cromer Air Rifle Club now has its home in Bodham, in a quiet, out-of-the-way location on farmland. The long track that leads from the road to the shooting ground is very thoughtfully signposted with the location’s postcode. Shooters meet every Sunday morning between nine o’clock and twelve o’clock, unless it’s raining.
There are only eight airgun clubs in this region – a region that covers no fewer than eight counties. The winter league, which takes place every year between October and April, is open to all members of these eight BFTA (British Field Target Association) clubs, and each club takes a turn to host a round.
It’s a thirty-shot course, undertaken in pairs. In each of the 15 lanes there are four targets – two for each shooter. Every metal target is punched with a hole, which is 35 mm, 25 mm, or 15 mm in diameter. Behind the hole is a piece of metal on a spring, which, when hit, gives a satisfying ‘clunk’.
Airgun shooting is normally done in a sitting or lying position, but some of the targets in the Winter League competition are ‘positional’ shots, which must be taken from a standing and a kneeling position. (If your knees aren’t up to kneeling, you can opt for standing only!)
If you are interested in taking up airgun shooting, or if you are an experienced shooter looking for a local club, contact Nick Larty, Cromer Air Rifle Club co-ordinator, on 01263 570 223 or 07796 904 482, or just turn up at the club on a Sunday morning from 9 a.m. The postcode is NR25 6PN.