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Felixstowe: Blind shooters given assurance over range future

09:00 11 November 2012

Mayor of Felixstowe Mike Deacon tries out a new gun for use by visually-impaired and blind shooters at the Felixstowe Rifle Club, watched by Dennis Wood; Norman Thompson, of East Suffolk Blind, and mayoress Anne Deacon.

Mayor of Felixstowe Mike Deacon tries out a new gun for use by visually-impaired and blind shooters at the Felixstowe Rifle Club, watched by Dennis Wood; Norman Thompson, of East Suffolk Blind, and mayoress Anne Deacon.

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BLIND and visually-impaired shooting enthusiasts have today been assured that their range will not be closed until a new one opens.

Felixstowe Rifle Club is faced with being evicted from the premises it has occupied in Walton High Street for the past 70 years and looks set to move to a new purpose-built clubhouse and range in the Blofield area of Trimley St Mary.

The club is one of the few in the country to provide facilities for blind and visually-impaired people to take part in shooting as a hobby or competitive sport.

Norman Thompson, from the blind club which uses the facilities, said it was vitally important the range was not lost, even for a short period.

“It is so important that we have continuity – this facility is really important to these blind and visually-impaired people and provides them with a fantastic activity,” he said.

“Sport England and the lottery have been hugely supportive and we would not want to see if lost, even for a short period of time.”

The group – which has produced national champions – is able to shoot via a system which produces a sound of a higher pitch the closer the shooter’s aim gets to the centre of the target, with the competitor making the decision when to fire based on what they hear through their headphones.

Tim Collins, a partner in Bidwells which manages the Trimley Estate for landowners Trinity College, Cambridge, said while it was expected that a planning application would go in this month, there was plenty of time to finalise the move of the rifle club as its site would not be developed for some time.

The club’s land is needed as part of the 30-acre Walton Green development, which will include 170 homes, café, community hall, business units and a Tesco superstore. The range is on the homes part of the site and these will not be built until there is demand, leaving plenty of time for a smooth move to a new site.

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