Encouraged by the adventures of a mutual friend, Michiel was keen to try air rifle shooting, and when he found out that one of our local clubs offer a one hour taster session, we agreed to go along and have a go at it for an hour.

This was the second place we’d visited – the first was an archery store north of Leicester which we’d gone along to look at how much the equipment would cost for me, and then found out that they also did air rifle equipment, as well as having a range – but I was very very impressed with Kibworth. We walked in and introduced ourselves and despite not telling him, despite my hair being down (and thus covering my hearing aids), the man on reception picked up on my deafness and made sure to talk directly and clearly to me. The Instructor (Richard, lovely chap) was even better – positioning himself so that I could see him clearly, making allowances for my deafness (e.g. for safety, if a whistle is blown, we down guns – I asked him to tap me on the shoulder instead. Not needed, but it was good he was so deaf-aware) and I saw 2 people in wheelchairs so they were very disability friendly. Big plus to them!

The session itself was great fun! In the end we shot for longer than the hour we’d booked, and it absolutely flew by – we were given instruction in how to use the gun, the ones we were shooting were called PCP air rifles which use compressed air to propel the pellet – how to hold them, how to load them, use the sight, and so on. Very clear, very straightforward, then he let us lose on the range, encouraged us to go for a close by target first, then work backwards up the range. Each target was a steel cut out of an animal with a small circle cut out in the “kill” zone, when you fire through the circle, it knocks a piece of steel backwards, which you can then “reload” by hitting your next shot at the reload button at the base of the animal. Here’s a picture:

Normal steel target - the circle in the middle is the kill zone and when primed, the circle has a backplate to it that has to be knocked down by shooting the pellet through the hole.

You can see the circles where you have to shoot quite clearly. Once we’d done the nearest target, and reloaded it, we were encouraged to move backwards through the range, as the more distant targets present a different challenge:

The range

I went to the one right at the back and got the shot I wanted – which kind of startled Richard, a bit, I don’t think he expected me to get that one straight away! I then moved forward to a squirrel in the middle of the range with a really tiny circle…. and had a lot of problems with it, it was very challenging. Richard suggested I try one of the other targets instead and I glared at him and told him firmly “oh no, I don’t give up – I’m gonna get that bloomin squirrel if it kills me!”. He laughed, said “that’s me told!” and helped me by using the scope on his rifle to tell me where my pellets were hitting, and then set up a paper target to calibrate, to “zero in” where I was shooting and to adjust the scope:

Zeroing in - see how tight the shots are?

He was pretty impressed by this – good tight shots, all aiming the cross hairs at the scope. the target is around 20cm square, and this was shooting at 25 yards. tight shots is what you aim for – once they’re tight, you can adjust the scope, but if they’re all over, then you’ve got bigger problems. After this procedure he told me to try again at the squirrel, and to my delight, I got the bloomin’ thing!!!

That bloomin' effin' squirrel!

After that, he pulled out two 20cm sheets with 5 small targets on, set them up at 25 yards, and told us to shoot against each other – cue lots of joking about if Michiel wins, he’s walking home! – apparently this is the normal size of targets used for shooting competitively at 25 yards, so. five shots each, one on each little target. Here’s mine:

Competitive Targets

I won’t post Michiel’s (for that, you’ll have to look at his blog) but I can tell you that I scored 35, Michiel scored 28. So he got home safely. LOL. I think Richard was pretty impressed by both our shooting – although Michiel has shot before, I never have, only archery – which of course, has transferrable skills. It has, however, left me with a dilemma – I was going to take up archery again (its a sport I enjoyed a great deal as a teenager, and I was pretty good at it) and leave the shooting to Michiel but I did enjoy myself a great deal this afternoon, so while on the one hand, its good to know I haven’t lost my “eye”, so to speak, on the other, I am now very torn, and I have to decide which sport to take up over the summer. Can’t afford both, as they both involve expensive equipment. GAH…. I hate decisions like this!

Still, it was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon and I look forward to Michiel, if not me, spending many happy hours at Kibworth!