This is where I first learned the joys of shooting HFT prone.
Purley Chase FT Club is, as the name suggests, set up for FT shooters. It seems quite informal as there is no plinking range, but there is a good zeroing range with plenty of targets at different distances.
Location wise, the club is set off the main road and into some woodlands. All natural, with clever target placement forcing you to look through tunnels of tree roots or the giant rhododendrons. Parking is on the side of the road which is down a bit of a slope. It’s not a properly surfaced road but I’ve never had trouble getting in or out with my Clio.
Also if you like bluebells, then you definitely need to visit in the spring (see pictures)[Side note on the pictures. They are not mine but I have been told by the club I can use them].
There are a couple of different paths available that are used on rotation. Personally I prefer the path that takes you up to the top of the small hill. From here you can have 50 yard shots aiming down into a valley which are very challenging for me, but very satisfying to knock over.
The first thing I noticed here was that everyone seemed (to my eyes) to have a super rifle with mega scopes and all the bells and whistles. This seems to be standard with FT and is one of the reasons I got into HFT. I didn’t want to make a big investment in equipment before I had really gotten into the sport. I guess in this regard you could look at HFT as a feeder series for FT….
If you don’t mind buying second hand, FT might not be as expensive as it seems. That’s a topic worth its own post though, and to be honest I don’t know enough about it.
However all the people there are great. Don’t let the fancy equipment put you off, they are very welcoming and easy to have a chat and a joke with. We happily shoot to HFT rules and do our own scoring. Competition days would be different, but we leave those for the FT shooters.
Another thing to mention is that there is generally a lot of space at each peg. This means you can easily lay prone for a lot of the shots. In fact this is the first place I tried prone shooting and it was a revelation!
I had been kneeling with the usual ‘wobbling all over the place’ crosshairs. (My kneeling technique was not good back then!). A couple of targets into the course there was the opportunity to stretch out on the ground. “Couldn’t hurt to try” I thought. As if by magic that wobbly crosshair turned into an almost static view with just my heartbeat making it jump up and down. Immediately the first target (admittedly quite close with a generous kill zone) went over. This was the way forward!
As I later found out, the majority of targets at HFT events are ‘free’. This means you can use the prone position if you want and most people do. I’ve spoken to some people who have trouble getting into the prone position and have chosen FT instead because of this.
If you do want to shoot HFT but have trouble getting up and down, don’t be afraid to ask for help from your shooting partner. They will happily hold your gun at any time for you if you need and this is well within the rules.
For my next visit to Purley, I took a mat to lie on (an old camping mat) which was definitely preferable to laying on the ground. Next time I will also be taking a wooden peg to stick in the ground. As this is an FT course, the pegs aren’t really suitable for resting on and are just markers for the lanes.
Although some of the targets are a bit far away, I still think this is a great place for HFT beginners to visit. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere and the variety of targets are great practice. Definitely a club I will be coming back to.
Their website is linked below, and members can also be found on ‘Shooting the Breeze’