Like many other clubs, when Lockdown came in March 2020 East Grinstead Target Shooting Club shut up shop and hunkered down for a few months to wait for the Covid 19 virus to pass. As we now know, this was a little optimistic!
To cope with operating under Covid 19 conditions various changes were made. These consisted of:
- Improved ventilation in indoor areas.
- Online booking system.
- Increased hygiene requirements
- Facility upgrades etc
- Clubroom painted
- Indoor range painted
- Emergency wall repairs
- Outdoor range upgrade
- Armoury table
- Armoury Heating
- Small rifle rack
- Personal lockers
It's OK for .GOV to say "open the windows to improve ventilation" but some of our rooms do not have windows! As a result, both the air range and the armoury each received some new extract ventilation which gives 2.5 and 3.5 air changes per hour respectively and also increases our heating costs! Simple guidance on ventilation was difficult to find but one document did state 2 air changes per hour for a standard hospital ward so that seemed like a reasonable aiming mark. Looking at the room volumes and the capacity of the 100mm units lead us to use 150mm units. These were readily available and also relatively inexpensive. They have been installed in the ceiling and vent into the roof space. Which in turn, given that we occupy a 1960s building, is extremely well ventilated itself!
While it has improved the ventilation in these windowless rooms it is also very effective at extracting the very expensive heat from the club house! If this level of ventilation continues to be a necessity to cope with the aftermath of Covid19 we may have to look at a heat recovery ventilation system, so we don't lose all our precious heat.
Historically, we used to use about 1.5 tanks of heating oil per year at a cost of about £1,600. Double glazed windows, a new insulated front door, and additional insulation in the roof has meant we've got that down to about £800 per year. We'd like to keep it that way.
Online Booking System
An online booking system has been implemented to prevent overcrowding. This is based on free software readily available on the web. While it is not completely configurable to our needs it is OK and does the job well. We were worried that the need to book and the perceived reduced range capacity would limit our ability to complete the league competitions. However, an analysis by the Stats Officer showed that we had adequate capacity to shoot our normal compliment of cards / competitions, given the reduced demand from members who were shielding or self-isolating, provided we could smooth out the peaks that used to occur pre-covid.
The booking system worked well during the times we were open between the lockdowns. This was mainly down to the significantly reduced demand for shooting practice / training cards due to:
- Juniors not attending due to 1-2-1 coaching and/or parental contraints.
- new members not attending due to constraints on 1-2-1 coaching.
- members self-isolating due to age.
- members self-isolating due to medical concerns.
- members living in adjacent areas unable to travel as they were subject to higher Tier restrictions.
The only problem with this new arrangement is that members have to leave immediately after they have finished shooting so the social aspect of shooting is severely curtailed. Perhaps we'll lose our reputation that the TSC stands for Talking and Social Club!
The club is cleaned down at the start and end of each session by wiping surfaces, handles, switches, handrails etc before members are allowed to enter. Why closedown and again when opening? Two reasons:
- We are all human and subject to errors. If something was missed during the closedown cleaning hopefully it was cleaned during Opening!
- There is quite a bit of general maintenance goes on out of hours so it is possible that someone has been in the club between one session and the next. While the maintenance crew do clean up the work area after themselves it is difficult to be sure you haven't touched something else.
Cleaning stations (consisting of wipes, sanitising gel, and surface cleaner) have been provided at the entry door, Stats Office, and at each firing point (indoor, outdoor, and air). Hands are sanitised at each target change before returning to your mat.
Opportunity has been taken to remove all the club's old canvas shooting mats from the clubhouse as they are impossible to clean and therefore difficult to share. Actually, when we looked at them, they were all in a pretty dire state with handles hanging half off, clips/velcro not working, surface torn etc.
Setting up of shooter's kit is no longer allowed in the armoury. There are 6 setup stations in the clubroom. One on the kitchen counter, one on the pool table, and 4 on the snooker table. Generally, it is easy to remain well in excess of the 2m social distance requirement. A slight bit of organisation at changeover is needed to ensure that everybody is not trying to go up/down the stairs at the same time.
By happy circumstance our predecessors had provided us with a brick-built club house with 7 indoor firing points at 25yd, a 4 firing point air range, 18 firing point outdoor range, kitchen, toilets, and central heating. The only downside is that it was built in 1965 and now requires a certain level of expenditure to update it and keep things running smoothly.
Covid 19 has given us the chance to do some much-needed maintenance. The only problem was that the team was very small so that we could comply with social distancing, staying in our own bubble etc.
First thing was the main clubroom. This has been completely repainted for the first time in about 35 years. Thanks are due to Peter Watson who started out painting his own house. Once that was complete, he carried on down at the club! The repaint had been in the offing for a while, as evidenced by the various trial colours found behind the doors to the Stats Office hatch. The old curtains and pelmets were also replaced with new roller blinds.
Indoor Range Painting
The walls of the indoor range also received a couple of coats of white emulsion. Thanks are due to Graham Rowcroft for his efforts here. Although the lux levels of the lighting have been checked it still looks a bit dim down there and we thought that white would provide more reflected light.
(Indoor range: before and after)
Emergency Wall Repairs
A couple of days before we were due to emerge from Lockdown #1, one of the huge oak trees that are in the neighbouring wood decided to give up its vertical life and go for horizontal! In doing so it took out a complete section of our security wall.
(Old oak tree and gap in the fence)
In the process it also took out a branch of a neighbouring tree which had a go at our wall and damaged a couple of panels.
(Large branch on damaged wall)
This prompted a rapid work party to clear the damaged wall, find a supplier of replacement panels (Parker Building Supplies on road to Turners Hill), collect and install them in time for opening. Thanks to all those that turned out and helped, especially with the lifting. Thanks also to Mid Sussex District Council who are responsible for the woodland and paid for the materials we used.
(Graham R cutting panels to size)
Outdoor Range Upgrade
The size of the firing points is sub-standard compared to modern standards. This meant that we could only use every third point in order to comply with social distancing requirements. So, when Lockdown 1 eased, plans were made to upgrade the outdoor firing point.The outdoor firing point was rebuilt to provide 1m wide firing points. This allowed us to use alternate points to give 2m centres.
The removal of the firing point canopy was done by the core team.
(Some old woodwork was easy to remove!)
However, when it came to the replacement supports it involved some heavy beams. So, the core team was expanded slightly, although this still gave plenty of space for people to work in without getting too close.
(Poised ready to install the new support posts and beams)
A quick redesign meant that we could reduce the number of beams used from 5 to 3 giving a handy cost saving.
(New beams in position. Well, almost!)
Having installed the new supports the old ones were then removed to allow the canopy to be rebuilt.
(So called roof support showing its age!)
Three supports had lost about 95% of their cross section so were fairly easy to remove! The three others involved a chainsaw and some careful cutting to avoid hitting the concrete! This allowed the firing point partitions to be re-erected in the new locations to give 1m wide firing points.
(Re-built Firing Point Partitions)
The canopy above the firing points was also renewed as the chipboard and suffered badly and, in parts, was no longer there. The new canopy is made from corrugated fibre bitumen roofing and has smartened the place up quite a bit.
(New Firing Point Canopy.)
The new support beams blocked access to the target holders, so these were relocated to the back of the firing point and are now more easily accessible as they are much lower than before!
(Relocated Target Holders)
In the Armoury, the big old table (1.1m x 2.1m) was dismantled by the removal of no less than three tops and about 250 screws and nails. I think it had been repaired a few times! The removal was not before time as woodworm had taken its toll on some of the timbers. The new table was made from three Dakota kitchen units from Wickes (other kitchen units are available). Some additional shelves were cut out of 12mm MDF and storage for 15 shooting mats provided. The new top was a sheet of 18mm plywood. It was given several coats of varnish and topped off with a new vice as the old one just didn’t look right on the new table!
(New armoury Table)
You may have noticed on those cold winter's mornings that your rifle is a bit on the chilly side. Also, the armourer has noted that, during lockdown, he has spent a bit of time working his way through our stock of rifles and pistols to ensure they are in good condition. During this he has noted that some of them were showing signs of very light rust on the outside of the barrels.
Although the whole club is protected by a frost stat that ensures it doesn't freeze up, this level of resistance to the cold is obviously not enough.
So, an electric radiator has now been installed in the armoury to provide some basic constant heat while the club is unoccupied and the central heating is not on. Initial monitoring shows that even at the current low temperatures it is not necessary for the heater to be working constantly.
Once we are back from lockdown it will be reprogrammed to be off while the central heating is working.
Small Rifle Rack
This has been on the back burner for a while. We have some rifles in the club which are a bit short to fit the existing rack. So, a new rack has now been provided for the vertically challenged rifles!
Covid forced us to think about the need to avoid shared kit etc. So, we are allocating club kit to new members for their sole use. If they like us and stay, they can then buy their own kit and release the club kit for use by the next person. So, 10 personal lockers were purchased.
These can be used for gloves, ear defenders etc rather than having to use a full-size locker.
When Lockdown 3 eases and shooting resumes (again!) EGTSC is fully prepared with Covid secure procedures in place. We look forward to welcoming our members back.
As a club we are lucky and can operate under these restrictions. We are aware that many clubs cannot and have not resumed shooting since the beginning of the first lockdown. We do operate a day membership scheme for visitors from other clubs and this will remain in place for anyone that needs it.