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Nottinghamshire Rifle Association

Providing support for smallbore, fullbore, and black powder shooting clubs in the county

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Preparations for the First Annual Volunteers Match

The First Annual Match was arranged for 24th September 1861. The Nottinghamshire Guardian of 12th September reported on progress in the preparation of the new range being built in the Mapperley Hills. Access was from either Woodborough Road or Union Road. There was a lodge at the entrance occupied by a resident warden, Sergeant Lock. There were three targets in the butts, two for short range shooting and one for long. The shooters at 200 yards were protected by an earth bank from stray long range shots. The firing points stretched back to 900 yards and there was an intention to go to 1000 yards. The report mentions that some shooting had already taken place.

The location of the Nottingham Butts can still be seen today.

Below the report was a further short item on the run up to the match suggesting that it would be between the Robin Hood Rifles and a Leicestershire company. Apparently wagers were being made on the outcome.

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE RIFLE ASSOCIATION. — A laudable desire now animates most of the effective members of the Robin Hoods to prepare for the coming rifle contest on the 24th instant and following days. We are likely to have during the continuance of the meeting a large incursion of volunteers from other corps throughout the county. The prizes amount to £150 in money value, in addition to other advantages to the victors.

We recently paid a visit to "The Butts". They are situated in a most picturesque locality in one of the valleys of the Mapperley Hills, and may be approached from either Woodborough or Union Roads. A handsome rustic lodge, which, in itself, is by no means the least picturesque object in the landscape, has been erected at the five hundred yards range, and gives access to the ground from the lane. The lodge is occupied by resident Sergeant Lock, a veteran of lengthened experience, and a thorough precision in his attention to order. The ground is as yet in an unfinished state, but, looking at the immense amount of work which has been accomplished, wonders have been effected; and although these is but a brief period to prepare for the prize-firing on the 24th, we have no doubt that the gentlemen entrusted with the supervision of the work will have everything in readiness. With them it seems there is no such word as "impossible".

The West side of the hill sloping down from Woodborough Road, has been scarped to a depth of about seventy feet. The width at the bottom of the cutting is about fifty yards. A platform of strong beams, covered with metal plates, reaches across this space, and on it are placed the targets, three in number, the two to the right being for the practice at short ranges, and that to the left for firing at long range. The cutting is sloped outward for a distance of about one hundred yards. It is evident from this that an immense mass of earth has been excavated. This stuff has been used to fill up the hollows lower down, and raise an earthwork to cover the members firing at the 200 yards range from any stray bullets that may chance to be shot wide by those practising at greater distances. Recesses are cut into the grove to the right at every fifty yards distance up to five hundred, for which range the station is the terrace of the lodge. The ranges are now practicable up to nine hundred yards, and it is contemplated to extend the length to one thousand yards, but this cannot – at least, is not intended to – be effected in time for the prize firing on the 24th. The pathways from each range to the Butts are coated with furnace cinders broken small, which, in time, will form an admirable concrete.

On Monday the practice was kept up incessantly from "morn to dewy eve", and about eighty members took their turns in the various squads. Captain Parsons, Lieutenant Wright, and Ensign Bond were on the ground during the day, with resident Sergeant Lock, and Rifle Instructors Sergeants Holbrook and Irwin. The practice at 500, 600, and 700 yards was excellent, and centres were made with a rapidity that leads us to believe, should the same precision be evidenced on the 24th, the competition will be close in the extreme. We may add that there is no probable risk of any mishap befalling the markers at "The Butts". Three martelets have been erected of sufficient height and solidity to afford every protection. On the whole, when the place is completed, it will be one of the best constructed practice grounds in England.

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE RIFLE ASSOCIATION. — At the coming contest in Nottingham, for the prizes offered by the Nottinghamshire Rifle Association, it is probable that one of the companies of the Robin Hoods will compete with one of the Leicestershire companies. A challenge has been sent from one body to the other, and we have no doubt but it will be accepted in the most friendly manner. In addition to the stimulus of rivalry, there is a small wager of £10 or £20 a-side.

Transcript from Nottinghamshire Guardian Thursday 12/09/1861 p5
British Library Newspaper Archive