Bearsden and District Rifle and Pistol Club

In 2005, a few months after I arrived in Glasgow, I joined Bearsden rifle club. The secretary at the time was Niall Macdonald. I got his number through the NSRA who I had contacted before I moved. 

400yd firing point and shooters

Niall is on the left, with Simon Melville and Len Bornman.

The first time my wife and I went to find the club we didn’t find it. It is off the main road beside the railway track and a tennis club. We got off the train and walked all over the town, we must have walked several miles, but never found anywhere that looked like a rifle club. I don’t now remember what I was thinking it should have looked like, but a few days later I called Niall and he gave me the directions again. It turned out we had walked right past it within 500yds of leaving the train station.

When I first joined the club I hadn’t yet brought my target rifle up to Glasgow so I was borrowing a club rifle. When I eventually got the rifle up to Glasgow I had to take it into town to store it at a local shop as I hadn’t yet installed a gun cabinet. We didn’t have a car at that point so I walked the two miles or so into town with my gun case.

Where we live is considered my many Glaswegians to be a rough part of town, but luckily for me my gun case is fairly subtle and the only interest I aroused was from a guy sitting outside a pub at Glasgow Cross who asked me to play him a tune on my guitar. 

Once I had a cabinet installed the police came out to inspect it and the house, but later called to say that after discussing the situation with the local police station, they weren’t happy for me to keep my rifle at home. Their main objection was to me walking through my neighborhood to get to the train, which was the only way I could get to the club at that point, so they had arranged with the club to let me store my rifle there. I didn’t really mind as it is quite heavy and saved me a fair bit of effort to transport it every week.

The cabinet was given to me by my dad, who had transported it all the way from southern England. When the police advised me not to keep my rifle at home my dad decided he might as well have it back so we unbolted it from the wall again and he later drove it all the way back south. 

The Swing rifle. Looking vintage.

After being at the club for a few years and doing a bit of full-bore shooting using the club’s .308Win target rifles, I decided that I would like to get my own full-bore rifle. The police approved the variation of my certificate and with the help of a well timed tax rebate I bought myself an old but good British target rifle called a ‘Swing’. Look here for the Wikipedia entry. I stored this at the club as well. 

This caused me more trouble because unlike the small-bore rifle, which I was mostly using in the club range, the full-bore is mostly shot at ranges out in the country. This meant I would have to get up extra early to give me time to get to the club and collect my rifle, then go shooting, and when I was done for the day travel back to the club where I would clean the rifle and store it before returning home. Combined with a nearly two hour journey time to the range and the same back; in the early days I was getting up before 6am and not getting home till after 9pm. Also at the beginning I had to borrow a cleaning rod and jag from the club and by accident I had picked up a .32 cal jag instead of the correct .30 cal and had a hell of a time getting the patch down the barrel. I was using half patches and still having to nearly hammer the rod to get it to go through. I had a lot of skinned knuckles.

Hand made case

As I only had the one case to store my rifles in, I decided to make another one to allow me to take the swing away for a day and leave my Anschutz safely tucked up in the other one. I did a very good job, it is very pretty, but it weighs a ton.

We would usually go to the range at Blair Atholl, which is run by the West Atholl Rifle Club. We often went as a group in one or two cars and after a days shooting would drop in on the Moulin Hotel in Pitlochry for a pint of the ‘Ale of Atholl’, probably one of my all time favourite beers. I like the place so much that my wife and I stayed there for our honeymoon.

I have had a lot of good times and made a lot of good friends while I have been a member of Bearsden rifle club. It will be one of the things about Glasgow I will miss the most.

At the Moulin Hotel in September 2008 with Simon Melville (L), Niall Macdonald, Len Bornman (back), Me (front), Amanda (R).


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