It has been 10 months since I have joined the Barry Shooting Centre club. Needless to say, it has been a journey.
All this happened one Sunday, walking past The Tunnel on Barry Island. My curiosity with the open gate caught my eye, and I ventured down to the Tunnel entrance. Unsure on what I would find behind the blast-proof doors... a lot of laughter was coming out at me while at the door, with the occasional BANG!! Being greeted by Peter Mac, the Club Secretary, he just gave me a run down of how it all work... "where do I sign up??!!" I asked. There are a few things in life that just feels exhilarating when you inhale the right kind of fumes. Race Fuel is one... the other is gunpowder! The legal ones that is...
From that moment, improving your proficiency, your vocabulary, your knowledge base was a small ramp-up from various sources at the club and out. I love a new challenge, and one I would like to master. I usually don't like too many rules, but given these do make sense, it wasn't something I minded. It is all about safety, and what makes good sense - all the while having FUN. One may not realise the challenge as it is hard to describe since every minute movement in holding a rifle makes a big difference on the point of impact of a projectile - getting a grouping of 3 no bigger than a pound coin at 200m is very satisfying with my .308.
All wasn't so hunky dory to reach that point. It all began with the induction training and the club rifles having no affiliation, license and starting from ground up here in the U.K. The Induction training was presented by Martyn Wade, and his knowledge on ammunition, rifles, history shines through to the practical aspects of what you are about to embark on. It was not only interesting to get that level of background, but also practical in setting out to understand the various choices you will have to make on calibers and goals within the club.
For me it was a re-start with firearms - having started in Seaford College as a cadet, with a WWII rifle and getting my shooting proficiency of a 22LR, the American adventure of more ammo is better than accuracy to now hit the bullseye with one shot. Given this, the club rifles were a great start, getting my basic gear to shoot with - I attended every open day of the week the moment I joined. Shooting anything from 22LR, .223 and .308 Win gave me the spread of calibers I felt I was going to be interested in. The 25m mark and the 22LR quickly got me into a routine to the 50m mark. Repetition, and technique gets you there. The .223 rapidly became my favourite and getting reliably better at the 50m mark, and starting to reliably hit the target at 100m. The more I progressed, the more you see how you want to shoot with the equipment that you want to rely on. I had my eye on a .308 as my goal was to go for distance. This meant one thing - getting my FAC, and I didn't wait long for my card to be filled up with attendance credits to apply.
Getting your FAC depends on your jurisdiction of your Police Department, and the one that covers our vicinity here is South Wales Police. The Firearms department and I got to know each other pretty well to get the FAC license through the process, and if all is spot on with your application, you will see your license in 12 weeks. Once received, it feels like Christmas, as that's the time you go shopping for your rifle. I don't know any new club member waiting more than a couple of days before a rifle is added to that license! Lucky for me, I had the presence of mind to ask to do a variation from 22LR to a 300 Win Mag during my interview with the FAC Officer at my home. Might as well go for the distance, as I knew that the 22LR was not going to challenge me enough.
The opportunity to visit often at the club gives you the perspective to see who attends the various days - meeting various club members at the different days. All are joyful fun-gun-nuts as I call them, knowledgeable and passionate on the sport. Same goes for the staff, meeting all the RCO's and Staff members gets you to see the full picture of the Club and its operation. I have to say, even for my type of character which is somewhat impatient and extroverted - they have worked with me every step of the way for my abilities to improve, help me with obtaining my rifles and getting moving along with the sport. The best part is that the Club is a treasure as a resource for this sport - a hidden one in a tunnel. And this is why this write up is written - it is to share it to anyone that might be interested in this sport and wants to have a blast.
Like everything else in life - if you apply yourself, you gain proficiency, and achieve. Achieving in the right environment is key - with the tunnel giving you the consistent environment to practice every week, the focus on your abilities is more focused than outdoors (rain, sun, wind, elevations). While I may not frame my 200m grouping, just the thought that I did, and the challenge to repeat it is what drives me to keep at it. I am sure the Club crowd will give me some heckling from this - but hey! It's my story, I am sure I can persuade a few to write theirs too!
Thanks for listening.