South Yorkshire Shooting Club. A Family Friendly Airgun Range in England.

Recently, Hard Air Magazine published a story about a family friendly airgun range in Hudson MA.

While that story was about a range in New England, there’s a similar approach being taken in “old” England, too. You know: that one “across the Pond”!

Although a family friendly airgun range such as these is unusual in 2016, we should pay careful attention to what these pioneers are doing. Because this “family friendly” approach may be the future of airgun shooting for many people…

A few months ago, Hard Air Magazine visited the The South Yorkshire Shooting Club in Rotherham, in the North of England. There we found out about this family friendly airgun range and the secrets of its success.

South Yorkshire Shooting Club was opened 4 years ago by Dad, Trevor Horner, and his wife, Diane, along with their daughter Mandy and her husband Mike. Their intention is to overcome anti-gun sentiment and promote good sense, good gun handling and the joy and discipline of airgunning.

South Yorkshire Shooting Club. A Family Friendly Airgun Range in England

Above, from left to right. Trevor, Horner, Diane Horner, Mike Atkinson, Mandy Atkinson.

As a family-run business, South Yorkshire Shooting Club campaigns to overcome gun fear, phobia and any ‘locker room’ banter the male gun users sometimes fall into.

So, by the way, gents, stand aside and make way for the ladies!

You would be amazed at how many top coaches assert categorically: girls make great airgunners. The trouble in the UK is they don’t come to clubs because the atmosphere can be ‘laddish’ and unwelcoming. So talent is being lost.

The South Yorkshire Club is doing everything they can to end the “Men Only” attitude. Out with macho male surroundings. In with order, cleanliness, tea bars with cakes and vases of flowers. No camouflage clothing. There are as many women as men on the staff and amongst the membership. And there is always at least one woman on duty.

HAM was at a Club open day in Summer 2016 that attracted more than 300 people. Any airgun club would welcome such interest and this is proof positive of the attraction of a family friendly airgun range!

South Yorkshire Shooting Club. A Family Friendly Airgun Range in England

Also attending was Kim Tzabach (photo above) who, although only 18, is the Great Britain Women’s champion rifle shooter. She says, “Guys say it’s a guy’s sport and they expect to do well when they pick up a gun. But if they can’t do it straight away, they chuck it”.

Her Dad, Menachim, who is now one of the GB talent squad coaches agrees, “Girls are better because they simply work harder. They have patience and will stick at it”.  And if you don’t believe what they say, look at the facts. Out of the Great Britain Talent and Development Shooting Squad – that’s 17 youngsters – 10 of them are girls.

This all-inclusive-all-welcome attitude has required a very thoughtful business plan at South Yorks: a one-stop shop offering everything from top grade teaching to competitions, purchasing, repairs, bottle filling, and knowledgeable staff.

There’s a 33 yd rifle range with remote control knock-down targets, a 10 Meter Olympic discipline pistol range with remote camera viewing, and, in case all that isn’t enough, there’s dry-fire laser clay shooting and simulated game shooting.

Director Mandy is on a mission. “We all have a passion for shooting. But it’s not about us. It’s about bringing youngsters in and giving them the chance to try it. Sometimes you can tell talent from the first time they shoot. We can teach them, support them and put them in front of the right people to take them to the next level, be it regional, national or international. ”

The South Yorkshire Shooting Club offers training too. For example, a “Certificate of Airgun Competence” is offered to educate new shooters in safe gun handling and shooting practices.

South Yorkshire Shooting Club. A Family Friendly Airgun Range in England

There’s also a new Annie Oakley Club which has been set up to encourage more women into target sports. The club is “Ladies Only” with free social evenings throughout the year South Yorkshire Shooting Club encourages ladies who have always been interested in airgun shooting but never got around to it. This is the perfect opportunity for them to find out what they have been missing!

South Yorkshire Shooting Club. A Family Friendly Airgun Range in EnglandAnd kids are also encouraged to shoot – under strict supervision, of course.

9 year old Charlotte hops up on the seat, her feet swinging way off the floor. Martin, her dad, says he never knew she was interested until just 3 weeks ago here, for the first time, she held a PCP doing knock downs, and they said, “She’s a natural”. She says “I love it. I want to be winning.”

 

The Club claims there are other groups who are often overlooked. Older shooters, who may even have been champions and winners throughout their lives, find they no longer have the stamina. “What they need is support – sometimes literally- in order to continue. Good seating, benchrest competitions and a pleasant place to idle and chat.” says Mandy.

Then there are those like Jonathan Bates. A motorbike accident left him paralysed 16 months ago. At Stoke Mandeville Hospital (birthplace of the Paralympic Games), he discovered that he was “a natural” at air gun shooting and he is now in the GB Talent and Development Team.

Of course, the South Yorkshire Shooting Club is wheelchair-accessible.

“It was great to hear about this place and the facilities here reasonably close to my home.” He said. “It’s welcoming so I’ll be able to bring along my 12 year old son for training too. For me it’s a win, win!” It looks to us like the family friendly airgun range is a winning formula for the future!

 

 

 

Below. Jonathan Bates chats with GB Team Coach Meni Tzabach.

South Yorkshire Shooting Club. A Family Friendly Airgun Range in England