THE shooting range at Inverclyde National Sports Centre in Largs is to be closed and replaced by an outdoor adventure centre.

The decision has sparked anger among locals, with one regular slamming the decision to axe the facility as it closed its doors on Sunday.

Michael McGurran, 67, says the facility is popular and well-used and hit out at Sportscotland for a lack of a proper public consultation.

He told the News: "The shooting range was built back in the 1970s and has been used every year with the exception of 2002 when it was burnt down by vandals. Club members have continued to carry out maintenance at the site ever since.

"I've been coming here since 1986 and was told four months ago that the target range was closing. There was no consultation and we were told the decision had already been made.

"People have been using this facility from across the west of Scotland for 40 years, and at the stroke of a pen it has been snatched away from them.

"There were no problems with noise and it was unique in its setting. It means 40 years of people coming to Largs and spending their money in their local area has been lost."

The shooting gallery was built at the same time as the Hunterston Ore terminal after a community fundraising effort.

Michael added: "Many many shooters from all walks of life have enjoyed using this facility over the years. Some have gone on to compete for their country.

"Between the four clubs who use the facility, there are around 100 people who are left out in the cold."

Sportscotland says it is looking to develop an adventure sports and outdoor learning base to supplement the residential course running within the National Training Centre. The base requires to be located within an area of ground which will allow the potential for the introduction of open air, naturally occurring, and apparatus-based challenges.

The building will provide an indoor, or partially covered, area for inclement weather and evening activities and is now subject to a planning application.

Inverclyde Sports Centre principal Barry Fleeting said: "We have been reviewing parts of the business and we felt that having a shooting range on the site at a national centre was out of line with what we now offer.

"The clubs who have been using it are not registered with the Scottish governing body of shooting, which made things more difficult.

"We informed the clubs at the end of June to give them time to consider other premises and venues and we have certainly continued to be in communication with them.

"When you consider the main hub at Inverclyde Sports Centre and we have thousands of schoolchildren visiting, as well as people with complex needs, having gun shots going off in the background we felt did not suit our sports model going forward and it was time for a change.

"There are 86 acres which means there is a lot of space under utilised, and we have been working closely with Largs Campus to enhance the overall experience for school children. We want to make the best use of that land for going forward."