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Foxbar Rifle Range

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Target lifters, 2010, Fox
Target lifters

Foxbar Rifle Range was located near Paisley, to the west of Glasgow. Little remains of this rifle range, which lay in the fields near Foxbar, and had a short 200 yard range, and a longer 800 yard range.

The shorter target area to the west comprised a trench backed by a wall with a small shelter located below the revetment. There was a standard mechanism for raising and lowering targets, which may be of World War II origin. The upper target was aligned on a slightly different orientation to the lower, and a short distance further up the hill. Examination of old maps of the area show no record of the ranges on any 19th century editions, but they do appear on a 1914 map which shows both targets with their respective firing steps. This suggests the range was probably built before World War I.

Other features of the range included a corrugated iron hut adjacent to the 100 yard firing step, but which was removed around the start of the 21st century. Firing steps were set 100 yard intervals and ended at 800 yards, where they almost reached the nearby road, and a range master's bungalow was built on the other side of the road. The firing steps were arranged in a stepped and offset line, so that each of the firing steps had a clear line to the target and those at longer ranges did not fire over those at shorter ranges. This pattern seems to be unusual, and meant that the various steps could be used at the same time. Firing steps on other ranges examined have generally been in line with one another, which would have meant that longer ranges would have been shooting over the heads of those using steps at shorter ranges, which would have been unsafe for live fire.

The longer ranges are believed to have been closed in the 1950s, and the shorter range in 1966, and were latterly reported to have been used by the Territorial Army (TA) and the Cadets.

A SeSco member recalls that the range warden's house was based upon the design of an Indian bungalow complete with veranda, and that the last range warden was Peter Straiton, who moved out when the range closed c. 1966: "It was sad to see it go as I learnt to shoot the No 4 Lee Enfield there as an ATC cadet".

The site is now marked as "The Range House" on modern maps.

Site visit

A site visit was carried out during 2010. No trace could be found of any of the firing steps, and the corrugated iron shed associated with the range was found to have been moved and had its cladding removed, leaving only a steel skeleton. The lower target area had suffered much damage, with the upper section of the brick and concrete revetment wall having toppled into the trench for the target lifter, where much infilling was evident. The remains of two shelters were found, one at each end of the range. The shelter to the west was much larger than that to the east, which may only have held a chemical toilet. Substantial remains of eight target lifters were found.

The site of the upper target area was identified by a flat area with a low bank above it. No signs of a deep revetted trench were found. Several areas above were barren, suggesting the ground had been poisoned by the lead from the bullets.

Related info

Some interesting information related to the general area was found while looking for further details of the range:

During WW2 there was a dummy aerodrome on top of the Braes. It was illuminated at night to trick enemy aircraft into thinking this was a real airport, therefore having this bombed instead of a built-up area. There was also a red light on the Gleniffer Braes hillside, near the Foxbar Rifle Range, to warn country-dwellers of the approach of enemy planes.

The old village of Ferguslie was named after the indecisive battle in the Crimean War, fought on 5th November 1854. Many of the British soldiers who fought there were from the Paisley area. They trained at the Newton Woods, near Elderslie, where they had a rifle-range for shooting practice on a steep hillside close to what is now Foxbar.

The Newton Wood was a popular spot in the 18th and 19th century for rifle practice. The Renfrewshire Brigade of Volunteers would practice there in the late 1800s.
- Happy Haggis, Renfrewshire section.[1]

References

1 Happy Haggis, Renfrewshire section.

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