Rifle Range

The shelter where servicemen took aim and fired at their targets. Photo taken Summer, 1977.
Colin Lee
The shelter backed onto this concrete embankment opposite the rifle range wall. (May 2021)
Linda Duffield
The rifle range wall, which caught any 'stray' bullets fired at the targets, which were situated in front of it. You can still see the bullet holes in it today.
Linda Duffield

At the rifle range, airmen and infantry, who defended the airfield, practiced their shooting skills.

If you visit the airfield, you will see the impressive brick wall of the rifle range in the southern part of the grounds. The brick wall is an essential safety feature designed to catch stray bullets that completely miss their target.

Those shooting here fired from this end, beneath a tin covered wooden awning, towards targets fixed to two parallel concrete walls in front of the brick wall that forms the back of the firing range. These two concrete walls and the hollow that once lay between them are now largely buried by sand, but you can still see some metal fixings on their inside faces where the targets were attached.

The brick wall has two surviving revetments, or supporting walls, at right angles to it which also help enclose sand placed here to catch bullets fired at the targets. Originally a small brick building stood on the left where people could shelter close to the back of the range protected from bullet ricochets by an angled concrete wall (now demolished).

The rifle range was completed in 1923, a fact recorded in AIR 2/243/459658/23 and at the National Archives and also noted in  memo about the Handley Page sheds dated 27/11/1923, (AIR 2/336/849730/28), which states:

A machine gun range has recently been constructed on west side of shed. 

However, there is a date scratched in wet mortar on the structure which has been recorded as “29-6-28” but this is now buried – this may either be a misinterpretation or a repair/addition. The brick wall at the far end of the firing range is in good condition for its age although the bricks facing you have suffered some damage from weathering and bullets.


No Comments

Start the ball rolling by posting a comment on this page!

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.