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Auckland Pistol Club – shooters who get stuff done

We all heard about the noise complaints at Auckland Pistol Club (APC). We were all instantly worried about our own clubs, and the directions our shooting sports could take if established venues such as this one could get shut down. Well, the news, for once, is good.

It should be clarified, APC was never shut down. They entered into a voluntary closure of 3 months, to get out in front of what could have been a messy situation. The club and its members took proactive measures to ensure their pistol shooting range would not be in danger of having its doors closed by anyone else.

Substantial effort has been put in, to ensure Aucklanders have a safe place to train and compete. Image credit: APC
Substantial effort has been put in, to ensure Aucklanders have a safe place to train and compete. Image credit: APC

Their club secretary had this to say to The Gun Rack;

“We closed voluntarily for 3 months at the time of the first complaint to allow us to engage with the complainant and council. Needless to say the complainant has never engaged with us. We are in frequent contact with the council and working with them on the issue. We have been opened ever since that initial 3 month closure.”

The club has put substantial effort (and $$$) into making sure shooters in Auckland have a safe place to train and compete. The 16-bay turning target ISSF range has been sound-insulated and has proven to be very effective at containing noise, with sound dampening material at the mound and down the walls of the range.

The Auckland Pistol Club has great facilities and is open for business! They’re busy making sure all of the ranges capture as much escaping sound as is reasonably possible, in order to ensure the club can continue to operate at full capacity. Image credit: APC

Also fully approved by the club for use, is the large IPSC range which is used by members for casual practice, and weekly competitions. There is more soundproofing to be done on this range, so there is a restriction on ported handguns and magnum calibres until this is sorted.

So, how can you help Auckland and national shooting sports? Well, you can do two things:

  1. Always obey the instructions of the range you are shooting on, to help protect the ongoing use of that land, especially if your range has a resource consent in place or fussy neighbours.
  2. Chip in. Lend a hand, gift some materials or donate a few bucks to help the cause. APC has a ‘Give-a-little’ page, helping them to fund work such as the IPSC range soundproofing – that’d be a good place to start.

Where to shoot in NZ: Waiuku Pistol Club

It’s been a while since I’ve written a ‘where to shoot‘ post, possibly because I haven’t really been anywhere too exciting in the last little bit. However, that could be because I’m quite spoiled as a member of Waiuku Pistol Club.

At the beginning of the year I was tossing up joining one of three pistol clubs, to get my B Cat licence and start getting into 3 Gun comps. I was looking at Howick Pistol Club, Auckland Pistol Club and Waiuku Pistol Club.

Not many ranges are set up for rifle, shotgun and pistol use.
Not many ranges are set up for rifle, shotgun and pistol use.

I have shot pistol at Howick and Waiuku, and done an induction at Auckland Pistol Club. I quickly eliminated APC, because even though the facilities were excellent, only pistols or pistol carbines could be shot there. Since I shoot a lot of centrefire rifle, and a smidgen of shotgun, I didn’t want to shell out for a pistol membership and still have to pay range fees when I wanted to shoot long guns.

Howick was eliminated for the same reason, but also because the indoor range with specific target zones means most competitive pistol matches need to be shot in a modified format. This was disappointing as the range is only 5 minutes from my house!



So in the end, even though it’s the furthest of the three from where I live, I ended up joining WPC so that I could shoot long guns as well as learn pistol. The club was also enticing because it had the best range availability. With shooting allowed between 10 am and 4 pm, Wednesday through Sunday, there’s plenty of time to practice and shoot competitions. If you’re a visitor, don’t just rock up – you will be turned away! Visitors can shoot long guns after 12 pm on Saturday or pistols after 10 am on Sunday.

This ensures there is space on the range for you, and also that there are people around who can unlock the ranges and show you around. If you want to head down for a few hours to try before you buy, or just want to sight in your hunting rifle, make sure to follow the WPC visitor’s instructions for an easier experience.

What’s available?

For the princely sum of $20 (cash), you’ll have access to a couple hundred metre ranges and several smaller ranges. There are steel silhouettes for rimfire, falling plates for pistols and shooting tunnels for you guys with magnumitis or particularly short, noisy, braked or ported barrels. If you want to find out more about the ranges, click here.

The range is in Otaua, just south of Waiuku, and is about 45 – 50 mins drive from Manukau. If you’re anywhere south of the Auckland CBD, it’s a very driveable distance for regular trips. I head down just about every Sunday from East Auckland, stopping at the BP service station before the Drury offramp for a healthy breakfast of a pie and coffee.

You and everyone else around you will be glad for the shooting tunnels when big guns like this .300 WSM are on the range. Also great for when there's a bit of rain!
You and everyone else around you will be glad for the shooting tunnels when big guns like this .300 WSM are on the range. Also great for when there’s a bit of rain!

Once you’re there, the club house is warm and dry, and sheltered from the wind if it’s howling. Unlike some ranges in the wider Auckland region, you don’t have to use a long (or short) drop if you’re busting. The club house has ‘facilities’ as well as a safe area for cleaning/maintaining pistols, a well-equipped first aid area and a large seating area for courses, meetings or just having a bite of lunch.

Whatever you need in terms of food and drink, take with you, as there aren’t any shops nearby. Also, you’ll be juuuuust out of cellphone reception for the duration of your visit to the range. Which – let’s face it – is probably a good thing!

Club culture

I’ve heard some people say that they found Waiuku members a bit stand-offish when they visited. This wasn’t encouraging when I was looking at joining. However, this hasn’t been my experience. At least not any more so than other ranges.

When you’re an unknown person at a shooting event or visitor’s day and have access to some pretty powerful hardware, it’s natural for regulars at any range to treat you with a bit of a keen eye until they’re certain you’re someone who is safe and capable.

This is quickly overcome by being sensible and practical (courteous as well), and also asking questions if you don’t know the procedures.

There are plenty of members around who are keen to help you have a good time, and will share their knowledge with you if you ask (sometimes even if you don’t!).

You’ll also sometimes see groups of scouts or Adventure Girls come through – a further testament to the openness of the club towards education and furthering people’s experience with firearms.

If you’re looking for a spot to spend some hours putting lead down range this summer, I’d highly recommend checking out WPC. Also, as we’ve just started a new quarter, it’s a great time to sign up as a member, as you won’t have to pay a full year’s fees.

If you’ve got any questions, pop them in the comments section below or get in touch with the club via their website or Facebook page.

A few learnings from my trip to Taupo this weekend

I’ve always enjoyed shooting at the Taupo NZDA range. It’s accessible, cheap, and often on the way to a hunt or a holiday. Hey, it’s even worth just driving down there to spend the day if you’re from Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Rotorua, etc.

So, while I was enjoying some time away with my wife this weekend, I managed to take a couple guns down to the range to test out loads, etc. Here are a few things I learned…

The cost to shoot at Taupo has gone up

For someone used to paying $20 - $30 to shoot as a non-member at most ranges, $5 bucks is well worth it. Especially when you can see where the money goes around the range!
For someone used to paying $20 – $30 to shoot as a non-member at most ranges, five bucks is well worth it. Especially when you can see where the money goes around the range!

While you used to be able to shoot at the NZDA range for a couple bucks, you’ll now feel your wallet cry as you pull out $5 to shoot. As long as you want. On three ranges. With other casual shooters and locals. I take it back, it’s still cheap as chips!

You can see where they’ve spent the money too, with lots of new safety signage and other bits and pieces. This leads me on to the second and third things I learned…

Get there early and you can use the 200m range

While using the 100 metre and 50 metre ranges is great, having a chance to check your drops – or zero – at 200 metres is great.

With the other shooting positions forward of the 200, you’ll need to either be shooting while no one is around or with others who want to shoot a longer distance.

Arriving early has benefits and drawbacks.
Arriving early has benefits and drawbacks.

Pay absolute attention on ranges you are unfamiliar with

I read the signage, checked all the ranges, made sure the flag was raised and closed the gate to the 200 metre mound before I commenced firing. However, when I opened the gate up again, I noticed another flag that I should have raised but didn’t see.

Thankfully the closed gate makes it pretty clear, and the flag at the carpark shows the ranges are in use, but if shooters make mistakes, you can soon find yourself not welcome at a range – particularly if your foul ups are of a more serious nature.

Anticipate cold weather and wet ground

Heading to Taupo from Auckland for just a few days, I didn’t bother checking the weather, and to be honest it didn’t cross my mind that there may be some fairly heavy frosts (compared to north of the Bombays). First thing I did was rotate the shooting benches into the sun so I could sit somewhere dry when I moved up to the 100 metre mark later in the day.

The station wagon boot mat is a decent substitute for a shooting mat in a pinch.
The station wagon boot mat is a decent substitute for a shooting mat in a pinch.

But, on the grass mound of the 200 metre range, it’s pretty cold and wet if you don’t have a shooting mat. Well, it’s not the first time the carpet at the back of the station wagon got used as a shooting mat! So, my final lesson for the out-of-town shooter, always take a shooting mat and a towel if you can!

While you’re at it – a cap or sunnys is a good idea. I’ve never shot at Taupo when it hasn’t been bright sunshine coming straight down at you.

Shooting a sporterised Husky M38 at Deerstalkers Auckland range.

Reasons why I (sometimes) prefer my car to my guns

Like most Kiwi blokes, I have a tendency to tinker in the garage. My two favourite interests at this time in my life are my assorted collection of long arms and my 1980 Triumph TR7 DHC. Both of which I work on just about whenever I get the chance.

I love my guns, but sometimes this little convertible steals the show.
I love my guns, but sometimes this little convertible steals the show.

However, being a mere mortal, I can’t dedicate myself to both equally and often have to choose how I spend my time (or dollars). Fortunately for me, my wife enjoys shooting and riding in the convertible, so I don’t have to work too hard on that front.

As much as it pains me to admit it, I do sometimes prefer my car to my guns. And here’s why:

My car always has something to work on

God bless British Leyland, but they didn’t make the most reliable/simple/functional vehicles. While I may finish a project rifle or find the perfect cast projectile load, I may never finish working on the ol’ Triumph.

Great resource for anyone looking to cast lead projectiles for the venerable 7.62×39 – especially for the SKS.

Posted by The Gun Rack on Tuesday, 9 February 2016


My mates

Most of my shooting friends would know a little bit about cars, or have some sort of mechanical tendency. At the very least, they all have driver’s licenses and vehicles. We have plenty to talk about and share.

Give these to a mechanic and you might get a blank stare in return.
Give these to a mechanic and you might get a blank stare in return.

Most of my car enthusiast friends know very little about firearms, don’t have licenses and couldn’t begin to relate to the joy a cloverleaf group or the rush of a clean, ethical kill.

Also, they’d wear out my car knowledge in 20 mins if we tried to have an exhaustive conversation about anything.

Car stuff is easier to buy

It’s right there in the header. Anyone can buy me some bit or bob for my car. Easy Christmas presents. Not everyone can buy me ammunition or import semi-auto rifle parts.

Having said that, there are easy gifts for shooters.

But, in terms of ease of purchasing… There are two car part stores in a 5 min radius of my house. There are also at least half-a-dozen mechanics, a VTNZ and several hardware stores that carry useful automotive stuff.

There is one gun store in that radius. It also happens to be the only camping and outdoor store as well.w


If I modify my rifle, I have to wait for a weekend or time off work to head down to a range. For rimfire, it’s not so bad – 5 mins away is the Howick Rifle Range, where I shoot with HSSRC. However, for centrefire rifles, I have to travel at least 45 mins.

To test any modification to the car, I can drive down the street. I can even test drive it to the shooting range! And no one will complain if I turn the engine over on the weekend. Test firing a rifle would be a slightly different story.

If I had a range like this in my back yard, I may divide my time slightly differently.
If I had a range like this in my back yard, I may divide my time slightly differently.

To add insult to injury, if I forget anything at home for my range trip, or if the modification turns out to be unsuccessful or needs reworking, I have to drive all the way home to fix it and wait another week to test it again!

To be honest, I love both hobbies equally. They’re as expensive as each other and both give me a chance to clear my head and work on something with my hands. Both hobbies result in great stories of hit and miss, and allow plenty of opportunity to geek out in stores and online.

If I had a range like this in my back yard, I may divide my time slightly differently.

Swiss 300 metre shoot – Any Sights Any Rifle

There are a few centrefire rifle events every year that are just thoroughly enjoyable and worth attending. The Auckland NZDA Prize Shoot is one, as is the Thames NZDA shoot. The Hangiwera Station Sniper Shoot is definitely up there, and so is the Swiss Club’s Any Sights Any Rifle 300 metre shoot.

This year was my first shoot at the Swiss Club, although some of my shooting buddies have been going for years, and I attended on their recommendation.

An enjoyable shoot

The shoot is well organised, and is accommodating for younger or inexperienced shooters. There are club rifles available and the RO is very helpful with sighting in. The club rifles are either straight-pull Karabiners (K31s), chambered in the venerable 7.5×55, or modern semi-autos in 5.56 NATO/.223 Remington.

If you’re bringing your own rifle (as most do), you can use anything you like. If you’re really ambitious, you can try your open-sighted SKS and see what it will do at 300, but you’ll be going up against Bench Rest rifles that hit 10.1 more often than not. Most rifles on the day were a mix of F-Class, BR, sporting and service rifles. Because there is such a variety of shooters and equipment, it’s more likely that you will be competing amongst your group of friends than with the top of the table – unless you’re an excellent BR shooter.

The variety of rifles on the range is a joy in itself.
The variety of rifles on the range is a joy in itself.

Although I knew there was no way I could beat the top BR shooters with my modest sporter, this did not diminish my enjoyment of the day at all. I’m pretty competitive by nature, but found myself comparing my scores to my wife’s and those of the other Howick shooters. It also meant I got to see a bunch of really cool guns that you wouldn’t usually see in one competition.

Three-hundred metres is a pretty challenging distance if you haven’t shot past a hundred before. There were even a few who had not shot at all before. However, with the help of the club’s rifle master, these young shooters were hitting paper in no time.

The cost of the shoot is not prohibitive, with a range of $20 on the day, and of the cost of 25 rounds of ammo. The Swiss Club has a really good website for the ASAR shoot, which lets you book your position on the mound ahead of time. With several details across a few days of shooting, you’ll definitely find a time to shoot, and you may even try and better your score on another day.

Swiss Club target.
Swiss Club target.

The format

The shoot starts with 5 individual sighters. Each shooter on the line takes a single shot from the prone position (all shooting is prone), after which the targets go down and the scorers call back the score and location of the round to the RO via radio. A notepad and pen are handy, as you try and figure out where your sighters are landing. The shots are called out like “9 at 3 o’clock” or “7 at at 1 o’clock”, with the first number being the score (1-10) and the position on the clock helping you to identify which segment of the target you are landing on.

After you’ve gone through your 5 sighters, there are 10 individual scoring shots, shot in a very similar fashion. Each shot is still called out, helping you adjust your shot placement, especially if the wind picks up downrange.

A notepad is essential to sighting in at 300 metres.
A notepad is essential to sighting in at 300 metres.

After the individual shots, you have “rapid” groups of 2, 3 and 5. I say rapid, but it’s really not. It’s simply a few shots in a row. There is no pressure to hurry up, and there are plenty of people single loading their shots.

All shots are still called out, except for the final group. This means you can adjust your shot placement right up the last minute.

How hard is it to hit the 10 ring? You’ll need to be shooting around MOA (just over) to consistently hit the 10 ring at 300 metres. If you want to notch up a bunch of 10.1’s, you’ll need to be shooting around between 0.5 and 0.66 MOA.

The experience

I thoroughly enjoyed the shoot. I went a bit early to watch some of my mates shoot, but also to familiarise myself with the format and calls. I did end up waiting around a bit, but I ended up being there for most of the day, as I had some “technical difficulties”.

After watching the 11 am detail, I hung around over lunch time before taking up my spot on the mound. I was a bit nervous as I was shooting my rifle in its complete configuration for the first time. Since the last time I had shot, I had fitted and bedded my Boyds Prairie Hunter stock, had a new bolt handle machined, and modified my magazine follower. Also unfamiliar to me was a 6-24 scope that I had been sent to review.

One new bolt handle coming up, thanks to my mate Thomas.
One new bolt handle coming up, thanks to my mate Thomas.

Unfortunately the scope did not perform and was unable to be zeroed on the day. This meant I had to wait through an entire detail, pushing out my wife’s shoot as well. However, I used this time to fit my trusty Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40 BDC, which I brought just in case. I have learnt my lesson with taking unfamiliar equipment to a shoot.

Unfortunately this meant I had to sight in from scratch, however, I was on paper on my 3rd shot, and the rest was just fine-tuning. By the end of my shoot I had it right were I wanted it, which meant my wife had the rifle ready to go for her shoot, and actually did quite well. Results can be seen here.

Overall I was very happy with the my complete sporter set up, and with some more powerful glass, I think I’d be comfortable taking this rig out onto the F-Class range.

Looking forward to some Norma brass at the end of this.
Looking forward to some Norma brass at the end of this.

I think the load development still has some way to go, particularly as the barrel on this rifle is quite short. Not having developed a satisfactory handload, I shot this competition with factory 6.5×55 ammo. I used the Norma-Sierra 144gr HPBT, and the round seemed to perform pretty well. To be honest, I was more interested in the brass than anything else, as I think this rifle will prefer lighter projectiles, in the 130 – 140 grain range. Over the holidays I’ll be testing out the 129 gr Hornady Interlock and 140 gr A-max. I’ll be comparing this projectiles side-by-side with the 142 gr SMK and the 144 gr OEM projectile in the Norma-Sierra load.

At the end of the day, the shoot was enjoyable, and definitely an experience worth repeating. You can shoot multiple times on one day, or on multiple days across the competition. If I have the time next year, I’ll probably try shoot it on a few days. Being located only 45 mins or so north of Auckland, the range is really accessible, although it is also rarely accessible. The Swiss Club is, of course, a club for Swiss nationals, and as far as I know, this shoot is the only time of the year that the range is opened up to the general public.

If you would like to try a different range and format, and perhaps a longer distance than you usually get to, you’ll definitely enjoy the Swiss Club’s ASAR shoot.

Regular target at HSSRC

Auckland smallbore interclub

Smallbore shooting is both enjoyable and competitive, and never more so than during the interclub season. Hosted in turn by the various Auckland sporting clubs, it’s pretty much for bragging rights and continues through the winter and spring months.

The format

Each interclub shoot is completed on the target of the host club. This means every year you get shoot a few different targets from your usual, including groupings, application targets, snap shoots, silhouettes and all shot in various positions.

The nights are hosted at either the Howick or Waitakere ranges, and there is a Saturday shoot in Riverhead at the Auckland NZDA. Some years the North Auckland NZDA puts on a fun shoot as well.

All of the shoots held at Waitakere are shot in every position except standing, as the mounds don’t have much headroom. The Howick rifle range features shoots in all four positions (standing, sitting, kneeling, standing), as does the NZDA shoot. The Auckland NZDA shoot is the only one shot at 50 metres, while the others are at 25.

The 50 metre shoot (which happened to be today) is 40 rounds, ten each in the four positions mentioned above, with 2 minutes of sighters to start. Without the snaps and silhouettes to explain and call, it’s a pretty easy shoot, but the extra distance adds some challenge – especially for the standing. All of the shoots are between 40 and 50 rounds, so one box of ammo will be fine.

What’s on the line?

Each club puts together a team of five shooters (or tries to), and a team of juniors as well. The top four scores counting on the night. There is recognition for the top team, top junior team, top gun and top gun junior.

As mentioned above, it’s pretty much bragging rights. If we’re honest, Waitakere has some of the best shooters out there, so they take out the top spot almost exclusively, but it’s still a very competitive atmosphere and there’s certainly a lot of jostling for the other spots on any given night.

Usually there are pins or boxes of ammo as prizes, and at the end of the year there are trophies to dole out as well.

At the end of the day, it’s a great way to meet more of the shooting community, try different targets and shoot at a couple different ranges. If you’d like to find out more about the competition or smallbore in general, go along to a regular shoot at your local club and ask a committee member or the captain, or simply leave a comment below.