Readers reveal the inner workings of Steyning’s Mouse Lane Rifle Range

The rifle practice machines

The rifle practice machines

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Three readers wrote in after seeing Gay Cossins’ photos of Mouse Lane Rifle Range, in Steyning, in last week’s Looking Back.

Peter Knight, of Langdale Close, Sompting, said: “In the late 1940s and 50s, I was a Cadet Corporal in the Shoreham Grammar School Cadet Force.

“The school was in the centre of Shoreham and moved to Kingston Lane as a college.

“The rifle range is where we practised firing live ammunition.

“Gay Cossins’ pictures are of the BUTTS, where the targets were raised on pulleys.

“If you look down the range, you should see the fitting points at 1,000 and 2,000 yards. These is a slight rise in the ground.

“We fired .303 rifles, Bren guns and Sten guns.

“Red flags were raised at the tops of the range.

“When a cadet finished his firing, the target was lowered and the bullet holes pasted over with strips of tough paper.

“When in the BUTTS we also had pointers with which to inform the firer where his shot had hit the target.

“Happy days. Not long after the war, and with this training, it helped me when I was called up for national service in the Royal Engineers.

“The only buildings I remember were looked after by a Range Officer, who stored live ammunition and equipment there.

“He was a regular soldier and I also believe he lived nearby.

“Part-time soldiers and the Home Guard also used this range for practice.”

Trevor Deakin, of Hillside Avenue, Worthing, said: “I was fascinated to see the photos in last week’s Worthing Herald.

“When I lived in Crowborough, I was the secretary of the Beacon Rifle Club, and we used to rent the Mouse Lane Rifle Range for a couple of Sundays each year.

“I think the last time that I went was in about 1974, when this was a fully operating rifle range.

“What is in the photograph is the “Markers Gallery”, where the and raised again so that the shooters could see their results.

“The markers had bullets flying over their heads – hence the need to be low down.

“We were using rifles of .303 inch and 7.62mm caliber (standard military rifles), from, I think, about 600 yards away.

“We also used military caliber pistols from about 100 yards in front of the targets, but not when there were rifle shooters.

“I believe the range dated from at least the Second World War, and quite probably much earlier.

“Sad to see it out of use, but good memories.”

Reg Perkins, from Worthing, said: “Looking at the picture leads me to believe that we are looking at the BUTTS at the end of a firing range.

“Each firing range, say 20 lanes, would have two targets.

“One would be up to use by the rifleman, and when he had taken his shots, the target would be wound down and the new target would appear for the next rifleman.

“When the used target was down, the holes would be patched over, ready for the next change-over.

“I came across this in my army days so, therefore, they must have been used by the army based at Steyning years ago.”

Local historian Graham Lelliott also provided a link to a website which offers more information about the Mouse Lane Rifle Range – www.steyningdownland.org/history.html