ONE of the best rifle clubs in the country may have to close down next year unless a new premises can be found.
Bideford Rifle Club, which has existed for 50 years, desperately needs to find a new site for their shooting range before their current lease runs out in April 2013.
The club has been based at the site of the former school Grenville College for a number of years.
After the site closed two and half years ago they made an agreement to stay for two years, which was then extended by a further year.
The captain of the club Mog Thomson, who has been shooting for 40 years, said the club's committee has been looking around the region from Hartland to Braunton and down to Okehampton for suitable sites.
She added: "There is nothing yet and until we have a site we can't start applying for funding.
"There are three possibilities but these won't be decided on in the near future and we are running out of time. They include Fremington Army Camp and the proposed new Sea Scout building in Bideford.
"Then we realised that the Shaplands site in Barnstaple would be perfect but to use that we would need other sports clubs to join us to make it viable. If there were several clubs then it would make it a lot easier to attract funding as well."
Mog admitted that the shooting successes at the London 2012 Olympics has helped raise the sport's profile but that it hasn't made it any easier to find a new home.
She added: "If we were a football or cricket club then I am sure people would be falling other themselves to help but shooting doesn't have quite the same reputation.
"The truth is the sport is not noisy or dangerous, if it is an indoor range you can't hear anything outside and outdoor ranges sound like a game of tennis being played.
"Also when members join they are checked by the police and then have to do a 13-week training course before they become affiliated members.
"It would be such a shame to lose the club which is so well thought of and has national and international shooters."
The club currently has 50 members but has a waiting list of 40. The age range in the club goes from 8 to one member who is 88.
The ideal site for the club's range would be 1-2 acres on farmland where an old barn could be converted.
If anyone has suggestions for a potential site, e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org