Bisley ranges, Woking, Surrey
Bisley Ranges, Surrey – This site would probably not be complete if it weren’t for these rifle ranges that have given me opportunity and accessibility, time and time again to brush shoulders with some of the best European and British shooters as well as serving as a melting pot of knowledge and passion for rifle shooting and outdoor activities.
I first visited Bisley ranges about 15 years ago on one of my trips to London as a student visiting my good friend Andrew at University College of London while studying in Geneve, CH. Bisley is uniquely located in Woking, Surrey, just 1hour from Gatwick airport, circa another hour into Chelsea, London where you can stretch your legs and flatten your pockets entertaining yourself & loved ones. It’s also a few minutes from McLaren Technology Centre for those of you motorsport oriented.
I first travelled to the rifle ranges up in Manchester known as Diggle Ranges and run by the friendly people living around the Yorkshire Moors. Vince Bottomley there had introduced me to Fclass enticed by one of his articles and having patiently facilitated the journey for me. Flying there proved a little more challenging and less accessible than London where we have a few ‘low-cost’ flights daily.
Bisley Ranges – Location, Location, Location
Bisley Ranges as far as I know is the only European commercial rifle range going to 1200yards which is bang in the middle of one the prettiest neighbourhoods I have visited in the UK.
I have had the pleasure to travel extensively here since I was a child, thanks largely to my father that introduced me to this country as a kid and a place where he had made a living for a few years in the roaring 60’s.
What’s so special about Bisley ranges besides their location?
Bisley is geared up to get you to shoot and compete. It’s not the only reason why you should visit but the logistics support network there enables you to do just that – Book ranges at the click of a button- When I purchased my 2nd custom rifle, I knew that if I wanted to burn barrels and accrue long range experience, this is the only place you can do it with any decent frequency and accessibility. Bisley is open Tuesday to Sunday with Monday’s reserved for maintenance of the facility. As much as some criticise it to improve its overall appearance, it remains the best one I’ve visited with a history of some 150 years. Pictures like the one below showing historic shooting events adorn numerous club walls surrounding Bisley.
Run by the National Rifle Association of the UK, the NRA is
“A registered charity with a Royal Charter, the NRA’s charitable objectives are to promote and encourage marksmanship throughout the Queen’s dominions in the interest of defence and the permanence of the volunteer and auxiliary forces, naval, military and air.”.
Contact people at Bisley Ranges
The NRA, UK has designated contacts for everything here from your onboarding and membership to training, legal and compliance as well as facilitating everything with Surrey police. This centrally managed approach means you deal effectively with one entity – simple.
Young, juniours, seniors and pensioners, all come to the firing line at Bisley to test their marksmanship skills
Bisley ranges is not a no strings attached playground
The NRA requires prior membership but also certification of shooters for the discipline they are interested. This is common with all clubs in the UK and in most of Europe. Only after the training and examination (written and practical) is over, will you be certified. There is a good reason for this and it’s safety. Every shooter on the line is responsible of his safety and that of the other shooters next to him and down range if they are shooting at shorter distances to your left or right a few lanes away. After being trained here and visited a few other ranges elsewhere in Europe, I can see that this approach lends itself better to firearms safety and better firearms handling altogether. They are strict here, don’t fuck up. Bolts out of the gun at all times, until you hear the RO saying you may load and carry on. Once done, ask your mate to clear your rifle and remove the bolt.
I’m licensed in another European country and carry a European Firearms Passport
No problem Roger, but this does not mean much for the UK read full regulations in this link. “A permit authorising a person to carry a firearm in the EU does not provide a right to carry a firearm in the UK. A licence issued by a UK authority must be obtained. “
It is important however to get you started with your paperwork and on this basis after a recommendation has been issued by the club following your certification, you will then be able to apply for a British visitor’s permit. This and your certification card are the only thing that matters while on UK soil. I’ve found that authorities, airport officials and police are very professional, have your things in order and you won’t have issues, they want you to be able to carry on while ensuring everything is in order. This permit is typically issued with a rifle range or number of ranges set out in your permit. If you want to visit elsewhere, you must inform police.
There is an expedited procedure for those flying in for competitions, but this will only allow you to shoot that competition, naturally you will still have to abide by all safety procedures.
I have my visitor’s permit, now what?
You will be able to login on the website of the NRA and effect a booking. You can choose the range, distance number of shooters and whether you will fall back to a further distance say, 800yds and 900yds for the morning. A morning here with a marker will set you back £47 on electronic target and £90 if paying for a hired marker. You can share the lane with 2 or 3 shooters to make it more affordable or book it by the hour. If you don’t prebook, chances are you will not get a marker and if there are no electronics available, you won’t shoot. This happened to me once and thanks to Russell Simmonds, I got to share a lane with the guys at the Dorset riflemen club. Kudos to you.
Rifle Ranges at Bisley
Above lining up for 1000 yard shot on electronics during my practice afternoon looking down my Nesika Fclass Rifle topped with Nightforce 12-42x56BR and assisted with my Swarovski spotter for wind.
A fantastic assortment of ranges to choose from, I mostly spend time on Stickle down (<1200yds) and Century range (300-600yds) If you want to find out more about ranges available, visit https://nra.org.uk/nra-bisley/ranges/ To zero your rifle you may go to short Siberia.
Bisley has some limitations, you can only shoot cartridges shooting a bullet diameter under <8.61mm or < .338 and has a muzzle energy limitation due to the range danger area.
The following limits apply:
- Rifle ranges, no specific calibre limitation but:
- a maximum muzzle velocity of 1000 m/s (3280 ft/s)
ii. a maximum muzzle energy of 4500 J (3319 ft lb);
In order to shoot high muzzle energy firearms you will need to get an HME certificate as detailed here.
- High Muzzle Energy (HME) firearms no specific calibre limitation but:
- a maximum muzzle velocity of 1000 m/s (3280 ft/s)
ii. a maximum muzzle energy of 7000 J (5160 ft lb). Special zeroing procedures are required as explained in Para 8 below.
Electronic Targets at Bisley Ranges
An Accuracy International in 300 Lapua Magnum stands by the electronic target at bisley.
Above testing loads on my 284win at 1000yards, instant impact results most of the time.
As you walk onto Stickle down ranges, you will see large white boards with black circles. These are the electronic targets. I believe there are 5 of them on Stickledown alone. I find they are awesome to get you to practice on your own or do load development at 1000yards. Typically I start at 500yds and take it to 1000yds for finalisation.
On the 300m point on Century range, there is also a white van parked with the possibility to print your target off the electronics. Truly awesome when developing loads or just practice.
Enjoying some fine British weather on Century range after an afternoon on the 5/600 yard line
Shooting Disciplines at Bisley ranges
The NRA supports 12 different disciplines. Here are a few of the disciplines that you can practice at Bisley.
F-Class at Bisley
Above: Ewen Campbell tries my barrel block rifle in 284Win on the 1000yard line on Stickledown. Fclass – a veritable addiction for performance
If speed, fancy kit and high performance stirs your interest, F-Class may just be your next ticket to happiness. Bisley’s Stickledown range with about 50 targets going to 1200yards is your next step forward if benchmarking yourself with some of the finest shots is what you’re after. F-class is like drag racing for rifle shooting and can be shot with 308w/223rem in FTR or any calibre under 8mm in open class. If that seems like a longshot, why not start on Century out to 600yards. When that becomes your next short range, move onto Stickledown. Warning – it’s addictive! Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Historic Service Rifle
If dusting off your old boom stick with a few shots out to 300 yards gets you off your rocking chair, the historic service rifle competition maybe for you. It is shot with a service rifle as issued by any government and used without any unauthorized alterations or additions. This is typically shot with no artificial rests/support other than the sling however no shooting gloves or shooting jackets may be used. It is typically shot at 100-300yards. It is typically a combination of snap shooting, rapid fire and harassing fire and is bound to get you going as you’ll have to switch between the comfortable prone position and the more demanding standing, sitting, kneeling or squatting. Ideal after a few months under lockdown! If interested contact email@example.com
Target rifle at Bisley ranges
If shooting with adjustable iron sights with 308win precision single shot bolt action rifles feels more authentic to you, a familiarisation course for target rifle may just be what triggers you to come down to the ranges. The discipline is shot from the prone position from 300 to 1000yards and allows for each shot being accurately scored, plotted and revisited. This is great training if you also want to migrate to scoped rifle at a later stage. You will get solid fundamentals and acquainted with clicking for wind. Scoring hits in the vbull with iron sights at 1000 yards will surely bring a whole new sense of accomplishment when you get off the firing line and a smile to last you a week. How’s that for motivation?:)
How about trying to replicate some of the shots seen in the various historic scenes on shooting club walls with authentic muzzle loading rifles, muskets, pistols and miniature cannons? It’s going to involve you more while I believe getting you to understand how well made were the weapons of our forefathers. These shooting disciplines will take us as far back as the 1860s where the discipline was shot at Wimbledon before moving to Bisley.
You may shoot standing at 50m with muskets, lying in the prone with muzzle loading rifles to 1200yds, sharpen your pistol shooting out to 25 and even 50m or even roll your own miniature smoothbore cannon at 25m! How about that for a different weekend activity? If you thought long range shooting was a recent thing, a weekend with these guys will leave you speechless.
Steel buffalo target
If paper doesn’t ring your bells, why not switch to Target 51 – The steel buffalo target? That will definitely ring. For those familiar with black powder rifles such as the Shiloh sharps, this target should provide a good challenge for black powder rifles and high powdered smokeless powder rifles. Can you land your shot in the vitals on a cold bore? Below seen on 30x magnification through my Swarovski Spotter with MOA reticle
22lr Rimfire small bore
Image credit to NRA UK (https://nra.org.uk/small-bore-long-range-match-results-2/)
Want to start out small? Why not try small bore shooting. 22lr ammo is very reasonably priced unless you’re shooting super match ammo. If you’re already doing well with 22lr, you can even give it a go at 200 and 300yards on century and if you fancy a bigger bang, work your way up to centrefire rifles!
As much as I love long range fullbore shooting, an afternoon with a 22lr setup at 200 and 300yards is a fantastic way of sharpening your skills for longer distances. If you can do that, you’ll hold your own ground pretty much. https://nra.org.uk/small-bore-long-range-match/
Want a full run down of what you can practice at bisley? Check it out
British ranges for British sniping rifles. Accuracy International AXMC seen here for an afternoon out for a stroll at Bisley Ranges
Are you physically challenged? No problem!
One of the things I love most about being on the ranges at Bisley is the inclusiveness of the sport, you meet people from all walks of life, from business tycoons to artisan tradesman, cardiologists to veterinarians, business owners to foreign government officials, you mention it and you’ll find them.
You will also see an increasing number of physically challenged shooters on the line. The NRA provides assistance as well as facilitating matters for physically challenged shooters. Other shooters will gladly give you a hand so please join us on the firing line! I recently shot with a former British soldier that was unfortunately maimed in Afghanistan.
He beat my ass on the windiest day and left in third or second place! Man that was an experience. A maimed hand and no legs and he was king of the line. I’ve not seen a more inclusive sport that brings together such a wonderful community of like-minded yet so different people. One time, I thought that I come a long way spending 3hours on a flight to come shoot here until I turned right and the guy next to me by the name of Graeme, flew all the way from New Zealand!
Clubs and accommodation at Bisley Ranges
Above: My favourite hangout topped off with a steak from the Artists Rifles enjoying the scenery overlooking Century Range
There are numerous clubs located around the rifle ranges some with over 100 years of history. I’m a member of the North London Rifle Club as well. They provide excellent storage facilities, a member’s only reloading room (requiring certification to use) and run numerous training courses throughout the year – a must if you want to push yourself higher.
Tim Stewart carries out excellent wind reading courses and other members like James Mccosh are always there to help get newcomers onto the shooting ladder. For a list of courses run by the NRA please see this link. The North London rifle club also runs a series of courses so please do get in touch with them firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are a few others that I have visited such as the artists rifles, a great place to mingle with other shooters, club location over-looking century range and very nice steak to bring to a health close your long day on the ranges 😊 I’ve recently visited a restaurant run by a polish couple on club row street, they make nice snacks for mid-day and even some healthier options. They also accommodated a request which we had even though it wasn’t on the menu.
For a full list of clubs at Bisley visit this page.
Where shall I stay while at Bisley ranges?
Above: One of the new holiday homes you can buy at Bisley Ranges. More and more of these pretty holiday homes are coming available. Truly nice!
I’ve stayed at the Pavilion a few times, it’s a good place to be on the ranges. A little basic given the standards around Bisley but the prices are very competitive at about £75 a night. The rooms have always been clean.
Recently I also tried the hedgehog hut run by the OSM club. It’s very nice, well kept, located just off Stickledown and sleeps 3-4 easily, it has everything you would need not only to come here and shoot but also to spend a great wkend with your loved ones. They also provide a studio for 2 which you can rent. Tricia is very accommodating and my first point of contact for my next trip.
Dining facilities we reccommend: Inn at west end, fox Inn, The Nags head INN
I hope this round up will get your rolling off your comfortable couch, get in touch with a few of these people mentioned here to get your rounds rolling down range. If you do drop by and see me on the ranges, I’ll be glad to make your acquaintance – don’t be a stranger 😊
Watch out in the next weeks as we keep you updated with more info about Bisley and things to do:) Subscribe to our news letter
Over and Out – Rod.