At home on the rifle range
This W.H. Cox picture shows the opening of Luton Rifle Club's 50-yards outdoor range in Dallow Road on June 4th, 1910. Officially opened by Lord Ampthill, it was facility that was to become important at the beginning of World War 1, used by Army officers stationed at Luton for revolver practice.
Club officials acceded to Col Moseley's request for its use and made arrangement for the range-keeper to attend and for the supply of targets. Col Moseley and 17 officers attended on the first afternoon, and they accomplished some excellent shooting, according to the Luton News of August 20th, 1914.
Mr R. Head, Secretary of the Rifle Club, said the facilities granted to the officers would in no way interfere with the arrangements made for civilian shooting at the range on Saturdays.
The Dallow Road facilities would soon prove inadequate on their own, however. On September 10th, the Luton News reported that longer rifle ranges were to be created at Warden Hills, to meet an urgent demand.
On the following Monday work was to start on the erection of 60 targets at the foot of Warden Hills and a further 60 at the far end of the golf course below Galley Hill, giving ranges of 600 yards and 1,000 yards. The ranges would be only temporary but would mean that several thousand acres of land behind the hills towards Lilley would become a proscribed area, and cultivation would not be possible. The targets would stand on Mr Godfrey's arable land, and the Warden Hills would make an excellent shield for bullets.
The newspaper report said the 600 yards range would extend from quite near the New Bedford Road, by the third milestone, up to the foot of the hills. The 1,000 yards range would be from a spot a little further in from the New Bedford Road in a slanting direction towards Galley Hill, in a line very nearly through the new keeper's cottage. While the golf links were not part of the range, it would, of course, be impossible to use them during firing practice.
Already the military had been making good use of the links as a drilling ground, and hundreds of soldiers were being trained upon them. Golf club members were naturally concerned about possible permanent damage to a course on which much had been spent over the past 20 years, and on which £1,200 had more recently been spent to extend and improve it.