What to expect from Dai Leisure's new indoor range
PUBLISHED: 13:25 20 June 2019 | UPDATED: 13:25 20 June 2019
Dave Barham attends the grand opening of a new indoor range above one of the UK's best-stocked airgun shops
Situated in Brierley Hill, West Midlands, DAI Leisure is one of the UK's largest independent retailers of airguns and shooting equipment. In fact, I was gobsmacked when I walked through the door to be greeted by wall upon wall of rifles, and a massive array of glass display cases brimming with pistols. I was like a kid in a sweetshop!
The reason I was there was to spend an hour on the shop's brand new indoor shooting range, the brainchild of shop owner, Chris Locke. You see, in the past they used to zero customers' rifles across the stockroom, but Chris soon realised that it would be of huge benefit to have a purpose-built range where customers could actually spend some quality time trying out various rifles and pistols - a proper 'Try before You Buy' scenario.
Not only would a proper range help customers in choosing a rifle or pistol, but it would also help to draw more customers through the door - a win/win for all concerned.
Chris told me that within a 15 to 20 mile radius of his shop, there are somewhere in the region of 20 other gun shops! That's great news for the industry, but not so good if you're a retailer. This new range is the only one in the area, it's something different and it's going to work wonders for DAI Leisure in the future.
The 25-yard range has five lanes with a host of different targets, including drop-down and retrieve, to suit all abilities. There are five stalls available with one set at 25 yards, two at 24 yards and two at 23 yards. Pellet pistols are allowed too (no BBs) with dedicated 10-metre targets set up in two of the stalls.
There are tea and coffee facilities both in the shop downstairs and in the range, with added seating for visitors (one extra per lane) behind each stall.
Chris has built most of the range himself, as an ex-carpenter he knows his way around with a saw and hammer, and everything has been built to a very high standard and it feels 'homely' if there is such a thing on a shooting range.
Anyone can join the range for a year costing £49.95, which entitles the member to book a lane for an hour for just £5. DAI allows two people on each lane, so if you want to take a friend or your son/daughter/partner, that's just £2.50 each for the hour. However, if you actually purchase an airgun from the shop and spend £200 or more, they throw a year's membership in free!
If you don't fancy joining as a fully-fledged member, you can book a lane for an hour for £10 instead, and if you don't have your own gun you can rent one for your session.
When you pay for your lane, that also entitles you to free air! You can refill your rifle on the range, and they even let you fill up when you leave, too. The whole set-up is geared towards being very customer-friendly, and I tip my hat to Chris for offering his customers so much for so little.
I really didn't know what to expect, but as soon as I walked through the door and on to the range, my eyes lit up. So many targets to choose from, at every range imaginable, plus the bonus of retrievers - they are so much fun to use.
Of course, I had to start off at max range, which in this case was 24 yards. I wound the target back to the wall and it stopped with a satisfying 'clunk'. Then I settled down for ten shots with my trusty BSA R10 se. I was rattling the shots off with the biggest grin on my face - I was shooting well and I was buzzing with excitement.
There's something rather special about winding that target back toward you. It's like the 'Big Reveal', you can see how you've shot through your scope, but there's an air of anticipation as you frantically wind the target back.
About 20 minutes into my session, a young lad popped his head around the door. Ten-year-old Anton Jones had gone into the shop to buy something completely unrelated to shooting; DAI sells all manner of bike, scooter and other sporting goods too from another part of the huge shop. I asked if he fancied having a go with my rifle, and he excitedly said, "Yes please".
I loaded up ten pellets into the magazine, put a fresh target in the retriever and wound it back to the wall. I then sat him down behind my rifle and cocked it for him. A quick bit of training in regard to sighting up and pulling the trigger and he was away. I made him retrieve his own target, and when he finally got it back, the grin on his face said it all.
"You shot really well there, young man," I said.
He just kept saying 'thank you', as he clutched his target and left. Who knows, that young lad could be badgering his mum and dad for a rifle as we speak, but that opportunity would not have arisen if the range hadn't been there.
I'll certainly be dropping back in for another go on the range when I'm passing that way, and I suggest you go and take a look at just how good it is for yourself.
For more information, visit daileisure.co.uk or call: 01384 265 151.