Ashford & District Rifle Club
Following plans made in early April 1902 the inaugural meeting of Ashford Miniature Rifle Club took place on 16th of that month. Mr. Walter Winans, a renowned local shot of American parentage was to host the meeting when 'all interested in rifle shooting are invited to attend'. The first ranges were on a site known as 'Swaffers Meadow' just off East Hill (probably the land now occupied by the Council Offices. This land continued to be used at least up until the opening of the Territorial Army Centre in Newtown Road in 1910. The picture above, taken in 1912, shows members of the 'Church House Rifle Club' using the range with Walter Winans in the centre. It appears that the shooting club in Ashford went through several changes over the years with Church House folding in 1912 to be replaced by 'Ashford Miniature Rifle & Revolver Club' who took over the equipment and range from the previous club. The two oldest trophies in the possession of the club are the Handicap Shield given by J. Strike-Phillips in 1902 and the Silver Cup presented by local gunsmith T.C. Austin.
Club records are not available for the period prior to 1960, but after the Second World War there were several clubs shooting in tha area, with most of them using the Territorial Army 25yd indoor range in Newtown road. By the late 1980's these clubs had reduced to two, Ashford & District and 1st. Battalion Kent Home Guard, both clubs having been formed at the end of the war. Expansion of the railway station in Ashford forced the closure and demolition of the old TA buildings and at this point the two clubs combined. Plans were made to build the club its own range and after gaining a lease on the ground at Great Chart members commenced a self-build project that eventually opened in time for the new millennium.
The range can accommodate up to 10 air gun shooters or 5 prone rifle shooters or 3 gallery shooters at any one time. Proposals are now being made to construct a 50Metre outdoor rifle range adjacent to the present building.