I’m the odd one out in the family in that I’m the only non-shooter. The other four are all members of the Ste Sevère Fédération de Tir (shooting club). Ruadhri, who’s 9, started going at the end of last year. I won’t be joining them. I’m not scared of firing a gun, it just doesn’t really appeal. When they go to the club on a Sunday morning, I happily head off instead for a long walk with Nessie and my MP3.

I went along this morning to watch Chris, Caiti and Rors have a session and take some photos so I could blog about this popular French pastime. (Benj is too busy revising for his bac blanc, although that seems to involve quite a lot of x-boxing, judging from the sounds floating down through the very thin ceiling.) Club members can use the range when they like, so long as they sign in and out and obey all the usual safety rules.





The Ste Sevère shooting range is in an old quarry, the perfect setting. It has several stands for shooting different distances. There are rows of beams with bits of drainpipe on to shoot things off, and also ‘washing’ lines that you can hang targets from. CDs are always very popular!


You have to wear glasses and ear protectors (lunettes et casques). No ifs or buts.

A large part of the fun is scurrying around after each round of shooting has finished to pick up bullets and bullet cases.

Chris prefers shooting with his pistol, a Browning Buckmark .22 LR. This has to have a trigger lock for when it’s not in use. Chris also has a Ruger Security Six .357 magnum. That one packs a punch.

Caiti prefers the rifle, a CZ 254, also .22 LR.

Gun ownership is a responsible business and in France it’s very carefully regulated. There is a pile of paperwork to be filled in if you want to get a gun. This paperwork goes via the gendarmes to the Prefecture. You have to be a member of a shooting club and you need to go to at least three sessions per year. The president of the gun club stamps your card to record your attendances. Other requirements are owning a safe to lock the guns away in and a medical certificate. You have to show the receipt for the coffre fort to the gendarmes and see the GP annually to make sure you are mentally stable enough to own a weapon.

The trigger lock on Chris's pistol

By all accounts it’s a very enjoyable hobby and it’s meant we’ve got to know the local gendarmes very well!