My Christmas present from the E knitter last year was a Virgin experience. That title alone conjures up various images, but no, it was indeed a shooting experience in the wilds of Oxfordshire.
I have always enjoyed air rifle shooting, but over years with gun laws etc it has become difficult to do.
In my long distant youth we would walk to the local wood, pin a target on a tree and use a simple 177 calibre air rifle, the type that would have graced the fun fair side stalls.
I own an old BSA Meteor air rifle from the 70’s that hasn’t been used for years.
I was interested in the recent upsurge of the Bell target shooting, but clubs and leagues now control it. (I’m not a club joining person)
In its heyday Bell target shooting was a very popular pub game on par with skittles, etc. It involved shooting at a target with a hole in the centre (bulls eye). Behind the hole was a bell. Simply ring the bell with the pellet for a maximum score. The rifles in those days (1930s) were the same simple fairground type. Now, even though the 177 calibre remains, the rifles are top spec with telescopic sights and laser pointers costing a small fortune. Skill?
Have you ever heard the saying shooting fish in a barrel?
Any local rifle ranges insist that you are a member of a club. I just want to turn up with my rifle pay a fee and spent an hour reliving my youth aimlessly shooting at a cardboard target.
The e knitter had been listening to my moans and groans over the months and decided to shut me up by treating me with a shooting experience.
It would be wrong not to arrange it with a camping trip.
I earmarked a stopover at the Camping and Caravan club site in Oxford.
The site is well placed just off the ring road behind the Go Outdoors shop and directly opposite the Redbridge park & ride bus service into Oxford city centre.
Because shopping trips and guns aren’t the ideal place for dogs, it meant Ruby would be missing this trip although she has recently been enjoying shopping trips I can’t see her becoming a gundog.
With the campsite booked for two nights and the shooting booked for the Sunday we were ready.
Early Friday afternoon saw us head off into the distance. On to the A44, then taking the A34, we turned on to the A432 ring road with a quick left turn we had arrived.
Although some club sites can be a little over the top with rules and regulations. The site wardens were very welcoming and humorous.
The Camping club are only given a short renewable lease to run this site on a yearly basis, so they cannot spend vast amounts of money upgrading the facilities. However the site is well run and the facilities may be old, but they are kept clean.
We were given a grass pitch and set up the camper, deciding to stay on the site for tonight we settled down for the evening. This is a different camping experience, being close to the city location. Reviews of this site have complained about the noise levels that were supposed to be quite high with the ring road and train lines close by, but we hardly noticed anything. In fact we found it quiet.
Because Oxford was hosting a Folk festival it meant the site was full with all types of Morris dancers.
Waking on the Saturday morning, after breakfasting on Bacon baps we walked the short distance to the park and ride bus stop. The fare was £4.50 return for the two of us and dropped us at the West Gate shopping centre.
Parking a campervan in the city centre would be expensive and nigh on impossible, The Redbridge park and ride site has height restrictions on the main car parking area, but has a separate parking area for Coaches and motor homes.
With only one day to visit and see the sights, shop and eat we have found that the large cities need to be explored using the open top sightseeing buses to be able to see as much as possible in a short space of time and Oxford is no exception. The city is famous for its universities, colleges and intellectual prowess, but it’s better known as being the location for the television series “Morse” and later “Lewis”.
We woke early on Sunday morning, packed Puffin up and set of towards The Crazy Bear hotel at Shadhampton.
The 9am start began with breakfast provided at the venue which consisted of a sausage and bacon baps
After a Health and Safety lesson we moved to the range were we were split into groups.
We started on the air rifle range. I enjoy target shooting with an air rifle and if I could, I would like to do it more.
The rifles we used were similar to my old BSA meteor, but with better sights.
We then moved on to the air pistol range, which we both enjoyed and after getting into the swing of it the cans and targets were dropping in all directions.
The groups swapped over and we went to the Archery range
The last time I tried Archery was when I was 14 at a local youth club and failed dismally.
How things have changed, the reflex bows are now so easy to use. The extreme knitter was getting into the experience and I also found the archery to be a more relaxed event than the higher octane shooting
Crossbow was next and I have never fired a crossbow before. This was the one event I thought I would find easy. I mean how hard can this be? I really failed at here. I tried it several times, but couldn’t hit the target, so I nipped back to the archery and fired some more arrows to be able to leave on a high note.
The shooting experience finished at 11.30am and we popped into the Crazy Bear farm shop on the way out for some sausages.
I thought we could visit a couple of quirky sights before we set off towards home.
The first sight was the Headington Shark at 2 New High Street, Headington.
The work of artist John Buckley and commissioned by Bill Heine. It appeared overnight on the 9th August 1986. Oxford council tried to get it removed on planning grounds, but failed. Its still there having earned its place in Oxford’s history.
The Rollright Stones are just off the A3400 that runs from Oxford to Stratford on Avon. Legend has it that if you count the stones twice you will never get the same number. Of course with a great big legend as a challenge I presume everyone that visits the stones has to try and disprove it. Would I even consider such a pointless exercise as counting a load of old stones, you bet I would.
I was a little unnerved about visiting an ancient stone circle since the Extreme knitter watched the Outlander series. The main character was transported back in time after touching a stone.
The stones were a disappointment. I didn’t count the stones because a couple of stone huggers were there with divining sticks searching for lay lines or some sort of magical force field.
A hectic weekend, but thoroughly enjoyable.