The Deddington & District Rifle & Revolver Club was formed in 1945 by local members of of the Home Guard soon after the end of the Second World War. The objective of the Club was to the maintain a friendly association between a group of people who had played a vital part in the defence of the realm and wished to continue to practice their skills as marksmen and be available to serve the nation again, should the need arise in the future.
The Club was fortunate in securing the use of a piece of land situated in the castle grounds on the eastern side of the village of Deddington, where a rifle range was erected using three surplus second hand corrugated iron Nissen huts. It was in this building, which comprised a club room and a 25 yard target range, that the club activities were conducted for the first 35 years of its existence.
The Club found favour with many people who had returned from national service and quickly became a significant force within the much older county shooting organisation, the Oxfordshire Rifle Association. Members were regularly selected to represent the county in regional and national competitions, with many team and individual successes. At that time the majority of competitions required miniature rifles (0.22” bore) or military style full bore rifles fitted with simple blade or aperture sights, generally shot from a lying position and supported only by sling.
It was not until the early 1950s that some members began to seek other shooting disciplines to broaden the appeal of the sport and this led to the formation of a separate section within the club for those who possessed pistols, particularly small bore weapons, and wished to shoot them in competition. This section of the club grew quite rapidly and provided more than half the club’s 50 members by the late seventies.
By this time, it had become very evident that the low cost facilities, were rapidly deteriorating and there was little economic sense in continuing repairs of a building that regularly flooded, had a sand floor to the range, had no convenient car parking and was very vulnerable to theft, break-in and vandal damage. It was against this background that a long period of fund raising and planning commenced in the seventies, to secure good facilities for the club. It was by the hard work and generosity of many members, funds provided by the Southern Region Sports Council and co-operation of many other people that the Club was able to open the excellent facility, now known as the Anson Range that it has today, some three miles south of Deddington, in 1981.
The move was initially very successful and the new facilities were used to host invitation and social events. The new range was highly acclaimed by all. Unfortunately, two much publicised tragedies, in Hungerford and Dunblane involving the misuse of firearms, followed. This precipitated firstly a tightening of firearms legislation and finally the total ban of all pistol firearms and a decline in interest in the legitimate sporting use of guns followed. Since about 70% of the club members owned hand guns, the new legislation obliged them to hand in their pistols to the police, so great efforts were made to introduce an alternative interest. This was provided by lightweight sporting rifles, readily available for those who undertook vermin control, but not hitherto widely used as target weapons.
Many other clubs did likewise and quickly there were competitions available, largely using the format previously used for pistols. This branch of the sport grew rapidly and further interest was generated when lightweight air rifles were admitted to the same competitions and telescopic sights permitted.
It was in 2006 that a sufficiently large number of members wanted to shoot with centre-fire gallery rifles that the club hired the rifle range at West Witney Sports and Social Club on alternate Sunday afternoons, because the Anson Range did not have a safety certificate to cover such calibres. A programme to upgrade the Anson Range followed and the indoor range was granted a certificate for higher energy guns and hiring of the Witney Range ceased at the end of 2010.