I reckon all things considered, summer 2022 was pretty damned good – some extended periods of warmth, and plenty of opportunity to sit around drinking something cool – sorry ... what I meant was, ‘getting out and enjoying our passion for all things airgun’.

Scroll to the bottom of this article for a list of great UK air rifle clubs!

Come the winter months, though, with periods of set-in miserable weather, it can all get a bit frustrating when all we want to do is get out and shoot. Hunter field target shooting and FT don't officially have a closed season, but obviously the main calendar of competition dates comes to a close, and then for the real hardy types, winter leagues tend to fire up into action.

This can be a time for self-analysis, determining where it all went wrong, or what fine tweaks can be made to either our equipment, or our approach. It's only natural to do less shooting at this time of year, but keeping ourselves ticking over with occasional practice, can make a big difference. It makes sense, but it's not always easy.

I know from experience that a long lay-off can spell disaster and slow reactions come the next top-flight competition; so how do we ensure regular shooting sessions when the wet stuff descends? Well, I'm happy to say that there's a definite trend for either indoor or covered ranges, and that means an increasing number of dedicated indoor shooting facilities to play with.

A covered air rifle shooting rangeShooting indoors

Of course, bench rest shooting doesn't replicate the demands and challenges of HFT, but it still allows us to get out and check the equipment; such as accuracy testing with new pellets, or plotting/checking the gun's trajectory over all the different distances, 8-45 yards in HFT. I've often attended this type of range and then stood up to practise standing shots, once the basic accuracy checks have been done. Informal competitions with friends at these venues always add an edge – not only for the fun of it, but you'll find it pushes you to shoot better, too.

Indoor ranges such as Doncaster, offer the chance to shoot indoors, and with an airgun, this can be most enlightening because we get to see exactly what the gun is capable of – free from the effects of wind and rain. Indeed, we all know what it's like trying to hit the target out on a seriously blustery day. Add in the wet stuff, and it can be a miserable and unproductive affair – not to mention a bit concerning when expensive kit is being used.

Unsurprisingly, more and more specialist venues are cropping up, catering for the growing number of enthusiasts who wish to set up their kit free from the effects of the elements. In this environment, being able to finely tweak our zero until everything shoots spot-on, just breeds confidence. 

Dead calm, still air indoors is the ultimate in terms of setting up the gun, but plenty of other ranges offer fully covered firing points, despite being technically open air. Pete's Airgun Farm down in Essex, is a fantastic set-up because it not only has huge hangars for indoor shooting, but also outside target courses, so it’s the best of both worlds. 

Having relocated to Lincolnshire, my local covered facility is Range & Country near Sleaford, and after significant investment, they now have 32 covered firing points, all in a lovely country setting. 

So, when the going gets rough – run for cover. You'll be surprised just how many shooting facilities there are around, and it could be time to look one up and get down to check them out. Most will be run like clubs, and shooting alongside like-minded  shooters is not only fun, but a great way to learn and keep motivated. 

A young man shooting an air rifle in a covered shooting range in the UKFind an air rifle club

Here's a selection of some of the more popular facilities - some indoor ranges, and others that cater for bench-rested shooting, under covered firing points. 

Just remember to take thermals, and all the gear – extra clothing in the car never goes to waste – then these impressive facilities can be appreciated whatever the weather, and for the latest information on anything connected with hunter field target shooting, take a look at the following websites: