“IS THIS A BLANK I SEE BEFORE ME” OR “MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING”
Sitting in front of this once blank computer screen and trying to report our activities, I was reminded of the absent results that traditionally punctuate our shooting calendar. There is little we can do about that of course but I suspect several trophies will bear the engraving “Covid-19” in lieu of this year’s result. Yet another scar of the times born by ancient trophies many of which, presented before the World Wars, hold inscriptions with similar profound back stories.
Lockdown stopped all shoulder-to-shoulder and postal competitions following the closure of ranges. A situation that, until recently, has remained largely unchanged with summer season shooting being abandoned on block. As restrictions eased in the summer there were initiatives by the NSRA and county associations to extend shoot-by dates in a drive to close out last winter’s competitions many of which were nearing completion. This was tricky as indoor ranges were not yet Covid-19 safe due to changing restrictions, however, a few brave individuals did manage to complete their competitions. Well done. The move did draw a line under the winter 2019-2020 season and enabled results to be recorded. Not that I have any to recount here as end dates have only recently passed and scoring needs to be completed and results published.
In July – Despite outdoor ranges being allowed to reopen in a Covid-19 safe format – There remained an understandable reluctance to start shooting again. The absence of competitions did not help encourage shooters. Those with outdoor small-bore ranges were definitely at an advantage at this time.
Later in July the focus changed to making indoor ranges Covid-19 safe for greater numbers of shooters in anticipation of the forthcoming winter season. The NSRA issued recommendations for making a range Covid-19 safe and carrying out risk assessments. To my knowledge county associations in Herts, Somerset and Dorset carried out surveys to see how many club members would be likely to shoot in winter 2020-2021 league competitions, both individual and team. The survey results in my club showed only some twenty percent of shooters would be likely to take part. Recently published entry forms show a much reduced number of competitions, competitions with less targets per round, reduced numbers in a team, a single end date for all rounds, self-scoring of targets or a combination of these options. Well done to the organisers for making the most of a difficult situation.
We used to consider Bisley as our home range. Unfortunately, the NRA’s attempt to re-start shooting was in a format that did not lend itself to our competitions. So, following consultations among club secretaries it was decided to scrap all shooting for 2020 and start anew in summer 2021. Ominously, recent increases in Covid-19 case numbers put even that in doubt but we live in hopes.
There is a real chance the Arnold Cup will become one of those trophies to bear a “Covid-19” inscription for 2020. Let us hope 2021 does not do the same.
At the start of lockdown, a learned small-bore colleague suggested we should all don our gear once a week and partake in lounge carpet shooting (no bullets!). The idea being to maintain muscle memory or in my case remind the grey cells what was expected! I for one failed to heed that recommendation so when I tried 100yds small-bore in August a few minor positional settings felt awkward. I took the view that when shooting regularly one makes unconscious allowances for these issues, meaning they were unseen but randomly caused point losses during lapses in concentration. I have now made some adjustments and time will tell if that works. Have others found the same I wonder?
Congratulations to Andy Moore who will be shooting for Somerset county small-bore team this winter season. Martin Warr and I hope to continue our county level careers as well.
Owen Simmons has commented that the school is facing a discontinuity in students having access to the sport. Potentially, this could disrupt the succession of skills built up with David Russell over the last ten years. We really need the new OAs to join us so let us hope any disruption will be minor.
Our AGM this year was also a casualty of the virus so by exchange of emails the committee members agreed to remain in post until next year. Andy Moore reports that finances are sufficiently healthy at present.
Owen recently reminded me of the dates the current OA R+PC officers took up post which reads like this:
President OL Simmons 1989
Chairman OL Simmons 1988
Secretary OL Simmons 1964
Treasurer AQS Moore 1977
Captain AWB Wilkie 1971
I think we could all do with a change. Any volunteers to take over or help out!!
Despite everything we all remain optimistic. Entries for the winter are going in and competition calendars for Bisley 2021 are being put together. More information will follow but, in the meantime, keep shooting, consider how you might be able to help and above all keep safe.
Andrew Wilkie (Hon. Capt.)
2020 Fullbore schedule:
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Old Tricks – New Tricks
OA Bulletin – R+PC Report Autumn 2017
Well, we’re still here and in a low key understated sort of way, flourishing.
We hear from others at Bisley that we are actually one of the better off old boys’ organisations thanks largely to the school’s continued support and the elevation of shooting to a school sport. The even better news is that the new maths building includes a basement range and has been given the go ahead by planners. There will of course be a disrupted period during construction but the future is looking positive indeed.
The range closures of last year are now history and our shooters have both stayed put and moved on to various other venues. Long range (50 & 100yds) has stayed put at Vauxhalls and short range (25yds) has moved to East Barnet and various other clubs. Andy Moore and myself are still shooting at our local clubs in Minehead and Bournemouth and those at university are shooting with their local clubs.
Our Herts Rifle League winter season 2016/17 (Division 2, Team 4) resulted in our finishing fourth (ex6) not bad for such an unusually elevated division and it shows we held our own against declared averages. Our final position belies some very good scores; clearly the challenges of range closure put the team on its mettle.
Martin Warr spent the season shooting for the Herts County Rifle Team as well. Congratulations to him. With his current average he should have another season of county shooting ahead in 2017/18. Keep up the good work. I’m not so sure my own average will have the same result in Dorset but it looks like I might get a go at the new NSRA County Veterans competition seeing as I’m over sixty; ten years over!
Herts Rifle League summer season 2017 (Division 2, Team 4) was a similar story but this time the damage was done in the early rounds and we ended up in fifth place. Not too shabby but could do better.
Our team for the winter 2017/18 (Division 2, Team 4 – Again!!) season comprises:
Andrew Wilkie 97.0
Andrew Moore 93.4
Martin Warr 97.4
Nick Tubby 93.8
Kris Gruber (Reserve)
Priscilla and John Simmons both had success at the NSRA Bisley Open Meeting in August.
The annual Coles Trophy match against the school took place on 30 June. The result was a close win for the school with Macrae handicap scores of 400.076 to the school and 399.987 for the OAs. Congratulations to the school team.
Owen Simmons has dusted off his contacts list and called for competitors for this year’s BSSRA 25 yard competition. If you would like to take part then please let him know.
Full bore shooting kicked off on 1 April this year with a practice shoot at 600yds. A week later we shot the short range Q Match at 500 & 600yds, coming fifth out of six teams. Not one of our better performances given the early practice but shooting was disrupted by the delays getting target frames in place and by painfully slow marking. More delays followed during our match against the Old Lawrentians. This time we came second as expected with 458.24 against 466.36.
The plan was to have a practice shoot at 1000yds before the Long Range Q match at 900 and 1000yds. Yours truly duly booked targets and then disappeared off to Australia for six weeks. Well thanks to the electronic booking system the team arrived at Bisley to find they were booked in at 1100yds. We don’t have kit to shoot at this distance so after much discussion they were offered an electronic target at 300yds (See photo). Good practice for the future and very efficient with instant marking, just not 1000yds!
This summer Alun Lewis turned his wordsmithing talents to shooting, updating the NRA Facebook page during the Queen’s Final at Bisley. Tech savvy at 70, a new trick for an old dog. I wonder can you get a tingle from a lekky bone?
Wind coaching is still evolving so nothing new to report but the new scope stand will help by preventing the scope moving in strong winds.
At the time of writing we have just shot our last full bore event of the season The Arnold Cup match. First presented in 1936 the competition was balanced 32 to Alleynians and 31 to us with three ties (66 matches). This year the match was shot 2 & 7 at 300 and 600yds whereas previously it has been shot at 300 and 500yds. I am delighted to report that this year we won with a score of 272.29 against 250.16 to the Alleynians. Congratulations to all on levelling the overall total at 32 each and completing a run of five successive wins for the Old Albanians. The individual scores (ex 70.14) were OL Simmons 69.6, AWB Wilkie 70.10, MC Warr 68.6 and AD Lewis 65.7. The match was followed by our annual dinner in the London Middlesex where we were hosts to the Alleynians team and their partners.
Club kit is available for all disciplines so if any of you would like to relive the excitement of corps camp or that first shoot on the school range the opportunity is there. The grey hair count is still high and we need to keep working on reducing it. So go on – You know you want to!!
Let me know your stories I’ll have another one of these to write soon.
Good shooting to all,
Andrew Wilkie (Capt)