Our indoor range has 4 firing points, with shooting distances from 10 to 25 metres/25 yards using pistols, sporters and rifles. We also shoot air benchrest indoor. The range is mainly used for competition shooting and training whilst leisure air shooting takes place on our outdoor field target range and 25 meter benchrest range.
Our indoor air shooting takes place on a Wednesday evening.
The field target range can be used on a Sunday or at other times by arrangement. Shooting distances are from 10 to 65 yards.
It is now required by law that you must make adequate precautions to prevent unauthorised access to an air weapon. This can range from keeping it in a locked room, or firmly attached to a wall by a security lock, to a full gun safe. The Home Office has produced a leaflet Air Weapons: A brief guide to safety which we recommend you read as it covers the requirements in more detail. You are also more limited to where you can shoot a rifle. It is against the law, in England and Wales, to fire an air rifle within 50 feet of the centre of a highway if this results in someone being injured, interrupted or endangered. These offences could be committed, for example, when someone is shooting in their garden close to a road and the pellets ricochet onto the highway. Include in this is if your pellets ricochet into a neighbours garden. Even if safely shooting in your own garden your actions cause offence to a neighbour and they call the police you can be committing an offence and risk having your rifle confiscated.
If you are considering taking up air shooting then the following may help you in deciding what equipment to buy. As a guideline we have given approximate costs for new equipment; second-hand equipment should be significantly less.
Spring type rifles
These are invariably the most popular around generally mainly due to their low production cost. Springers come in ‘break barrel’ or ‘underlever’ cocking method. The rifle is cocked/primed by compressing a spring, which is released when the rifle is fired releasing the spring, which drives a piston down the cylinder with the compressed air pushing the pellet down the barrel. The prices of these rifles vary from around £80 for a Chinese/Turkish example to around £300 for a German made rifle. A variation on this type of rifle is the ‘gas ram’ where the spring is replaced with a gas filled cylinder (usually nitrogen), which is compressed when the rifle is cocked. This type of rifle produces less recoil than a spring powered rifle but can cost £400+.
CO2 rifles and pistols
As the heading states these weapons are powered by CO2 gas. The gas is introduced into the rifle / pistol in the form of capsules, which are placed in a cylinder in the gun and pierced when the cover is screwed shut (or a larger gas cylinder can, in some cases, be screwed directly on to a rifle). The advantage over spring weapons is that the CO2 rifle is almost recoilless, the downside being that the gas is very much temperature dependent to maintain a constant pressure over a number of shots and you have no real idea on how many shots you will get per charge. CO2 capsules and the larger cylinders are not commonly held so it can pay to buy in bulk, the number depending on how much the gun is used. Whilst there are some very cheap CO2 weapons on the market the average price for this type is around £100 to £350.
PCP (Pre Charged Pneumatic) rifles are now the most common you see on a firing range at a club or competition. The big advantage being that you can get between 40 and seventy shots per charge (.177). These are air rifles that have an air cylinder attached that can be pressurised up to 200 bar in pressure, and this is what powers the pellet. The cylinder is pressurised by either a compressed (divers) air cylinder or if you are feeling fit a high-pressure hand pump! It is important to note that air cylinders must be only filled with filtered divers breathing air as condensation and impurities from other types of compressed air will over time damage the rifle’s internals. High-pressure hand pumps have built in filter.
The average price range for these rifles run from around £300 to £700. Rifles above this price tend to become more specialised for different types of shooting (e.g. Field Target) or are regulated to give consistent pressure behind the pellet no matter the pressure in the air cylinder. They can come with electronic triggers or other aids. The range of rifles is extensive with English and German makes are the most common. To add to this you can get single shot or magazine (usually around 10 pellets) and of course variations in the types of stock - it is best to try several until you find the one which suits you better.
The next question is .177 or .22 calibre? Both have their own advantages and disadvantages. .177 is mainly used in target work as they have a flatter trajectory than a .22, but you get more shots per charge from a .22.
Air bottles and high-pressure pumps
You will need one of these if you purchase a PCP rifle. High-pressure pumps cost around £130 and it will certainly keep you fit pressurising your rifle! A air cylinder is the best option with a 3litre 300bar steel cylinder and fittings will cost you around £150 with a fill from a diving shop anything up to around £8 but can give a lot of charges to the rifle. A steel cylinder is best as you get up to 300 bar pressure cylinders and only require pressure testing every five years. Aluminium cylinders can only be charged to 230 bar and require more regular inspection/testing.
Telescopic or other sights.
Most air rifles no longer come with open sights (usually some springers) but grooves for telescopic sight mounts. You can get dioptre sights but these are usually only found for 10 metre competition shooting. The range, type and price of scopes are large and it pays to research well before you buy. Mounts start at around £15.
Sleeves or covers.
These are necessary as they protect the rifle in transit and cost from £20 upwards.
Finally you may wish to consider a moderator (silencer), which costs around £40 and most importantly pellets. Pellets come in various different types, weights and variation of size around the core sizes of .177 and .22. Prices range from £4 to £8 a tin and the choice depends on what suits your rifle and what you intend to use the rifle for.
Please note: any manufacturers, equipment and opinions detailed above are for information and guidance only and are not recommendations by Portishead Shooting Club.