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The Prize-giving Following the Second Annual Volunteers Match

The report carried in the Guardian Journal of Friday 8th August summarised the weather conditions of the previous four days' shooting as follows:—"We have had four day's shooting in every variety of weather – a burning sun, half a gale of wind with clouds of dust, thunder, lightning, and torrents of rain – changes in the condition of the weather which can only be experienced on this favoured island, and which in rapidity of alteration, and severity of contrast, were sufficient to test the steadiness and powers of endurance of even the most hardened veterans."

The worst of the weather was reserved for the Wednesday when the Yeomanry competed for their prizes. From the start to the finish of their competition "...pitilessly came down as severe a thunder-storm as could be witnessed. The men were drenched to the skin, yet they stuck to their work with a coolness and pertinacity worthy of veterans."

Evidently the weather was pretty unpleasant. The prize giving had to be postponed until the following Monday; but this gave the opportunity for a full parade turnout of the Robin Hood Rifles accompanied by a combined band drawn from the battalion and the South Notts. Yeomanry Cavalry at Nottingham Castle. The event was reported at length in a special supplement given away free with the Nottingham Guardian of August 15th.

Apart from learning who had won the prizes, we can also pick up on a bad luck story from the preceding Wimbledon Meeting, where one of our best shots was robbed of the Queen's Prize, being given a miss in a run of good shooting. Whether it was bad marking or a cross shot we shall never know; but Colour-Sergeant Simkin did receive the National Rifle Association bronze medal at the Nottingham prize-giving, which entitled him to compete for the Prince of Wales' Prize at the meeting of the National Rifle Association in 1863 and £10 to be paid to him when about to proceed to Wimbledon.

The full reports add more information on the conditions for shooting and the entries received:

"Hair-triggers, magnifying sights, and artificial rests were rigidly excluded."

"The first seven prizes were to be shot for with long Enfields, of Government pattern, with a minimum pull of trigger of six pounds. Prizes Nos. 8 and 9 to be shot for with any rifle of .577 bore, and Government ammunition, with a minimum pull of trigger of 6lbs. No 9 was open to members of the North and South Notts. Yeomanry Cavalry with Government carbines and ammunition. No. 11 to be shot for with any rifles under 10lbs. weight and any ammunition, and No.12 with any rifle under 10lbs. weight and any ammunition."

"There were 84 entries for the first prize, but only 80 competed."

The Prize No. 1 competition had three prizes but also entitled the top six shooters to take part in prize No. 4. The winner scored 17 marks, two runners up scored 16 and fired one tie shot to settle 2nd and 3rd places. There followed 9 shooters with 15 points who fired tie shots in sudden death fashion dropping the lesser scoring shooters until there were selected the final 3 to go forward. The last place was only determined after 8 tie shots had been fired. As a consequence Prize No.2 at 500 yards was started 45 minutes late. The scoring system valued each shot as an outer (1 point), centre (2) and bulls eye (3). To the total points were added 1 for every hit on target giving a maximum marks of 20.

Prizes No. 2 and 3 with similar numbers of competitors followed at 500 and 600 yards. There were fewer tie shots required to determine those to take part in Prize No.4; but nevertheless it was after sunset when this competition started with the 18 qualifiers to shoot at 200, 500 and 600 yards for the National Rifle Association bronze medal. This was a tie between Colour-Sergeant W. Simkins and Mr R Moss of 2nd R.H.R. each with 42 marks. The tie shoot was at 600 yards and was quickly settled by Simkins' centre to Moss' outer.

The second day brought windy conditions. Prize No.5, the file firing at 300 yards was first. The targets had circular bulls and centres rather than the squares used on the first day. Each team consisted of 5 files making a total of 10 men and each fired 5 shots. Bulls, centres and outers scored 3, 2 and 1 point with nothing added for hits. The winners were Park Company 5th Robin Hood Rifles, followed by Newcastle Company 6th R.H.R. and Collingham 6th Notts placed third. However it was noted that one man was absent from the Newcastle squad and yet they had scored 48 hits, 3 more than 9 men with 5 shots each could have fired and the squad was disqalified and second place given to Collingham. (See Notts Guardian 15/8/1862).

The volley firing, Prize No. 6, was shot at 400 yards, 10 men and 5 shots each, and was won by Southwell 8th Notts with 47 hits scoring 66 points (bulls being disregarded and only centres (2) and outers (1) counting). Newcastle Company 6th R.H.R. were second with 45 hits for 65 points and again they were only nine in number so no misses.

The skirmishing competition was next shot and won by Castle Company 1st R.H.R. The competition details are unclear but it seems that it was a single file of 2 men firing 5 shots each between 200 and 400 yards possibly with movement between each 5 shots. This would make 30 shots in all, the winners scoring 29 hits and 47 points, 10 ahead of the next best team Southwell 8th Notts. The newspaper observed that "Skirmishing is an unpleasant proceeding both to the men who shoot and the persons who are shot. But is a most effective ingredient of guerilla warfare and cannot therefore be overlooked in the discipline of the unpaid military".

Alongside the main shooting there was pool shooting and the plate competition produced the most interest. The plates were about 3 inches in diameter and were fired at from 200 yards. Sergeant Brown of No 6 Company R.H.R. managed two plates in two shots.

On Wednesday the third day of shooting started at 9am with threatening weather; but it held off for Prize No.8 volunteer shooting at 200 and 600 yards with 48 competitors. Captain Hadden of 6th R.H.R. scored 10 and 8 with 10 hits making 28 marks. He was challenged by F. Hill of 5th R.H.R. scoring 13 and 6 with 9 hits also making 28 marks; but Capt. Hadden was victorious in the single shot tie shoot.

When Prize No. 9 started for the Yeomanry at 80 and 120 yards, five shots at each range, the weather turned nasty. The rain came down in torrents and the thunder and lightning were loud, vivid and incessant. Shooting did not stop. Everyone was soaked to the skin. The musket flashes were bright in the general gloom. Nobody had 10 hits and one unlucky shooter only made one outer in ten shots. Corporal Jackson and Sergeant Morris tied with 7 and 6 points with 9 hits making 22 marks each. The Corporal won the tie shoot.

The final shoot of the day was Prize No. 10, the Association prize at 200 and 500 yards. It started at 3pm in better conditions. Capt. Hadden won with 12 and 9 points and 10 hits for 31 marks with Mr. Shepperley second on 10 and 10 with 10 hits making 30 marks. The evening shooting consisted of plate pool practice with 10s to be won for each bulls-eye scored.

The final day's shooting on Thursday August 7th was not reported in Friday's newspaper on the 8th and the details seem to have escaped publication save for the winners being mentioned in the account of the Prize Giving which took place on the Monday following, having been postponed due to poor weather on the Thursday

Prize No. 11, the All Comers, went to Colour-Sergeant Simkins, and Prize No. 12, the Extra Prize, went to Captain Hadden with Private Shepperley second on a tie shoot.


The miserable weather at the close of the competition for the prizes offered by the Notts. Rifle Association, on Thursday evening last, having precluded the possibility of the ceremonial being proceeded with by the Hon. Mrs. Wright on that occasion, an adjournment took place to Monday evening, when the interesting proceedings came off in the Castle grounds. The assemblage on the occasion was one of the most fashionable and most select that we have had the pleasure of seeing in those classic precincts

Time has wrought many changes with the old castle, and still it stands out almost indestructible, proud in its decay, - its dismantled walls, and defaced columns pleading haughtily for glories gone. On former occasions the Castle and the grounds were the scene of many of war's worst and most horrible tragedies; but they also were the theatre in which were exhibited some of the best traits that do honour to humanity. When Cavaliers and Roundheads met in deadly conflict, on those plateaus was Mrs. Hutchinson, the wife of the Parliamentary Colonel, who took the wounded Royalists under her special care, rescuing them by personal interposition, and at no small personal risk, from the brutality of her husband's soldiers, and binding up their wounds with her own fair hands.

Last evening the ladies of the town and vicinity assembled in large numbers, showing by their presence that the volunteers stand high in the estimation of the fair sex, and carrying out in its completeness the theory "None but the brave deserves the fair." Many larger assemblages have been seen in the Castle Grounds, but none more respectable. The prizes were not, as had been anticipated, presented by the Hon. Mrs. Wright; but one of the Hon. Members for Nottingham, Charles Paget, Esq., having been at his residence, Ruddington Grange, was communicated with, and consented to perform that duty. The time named for the performance of the ceremony was half-past six. Long previous to that the grounds were crowded; but the time flew fast, as the band of the South Notts. Yeomanry Cavalry occupied the orchestra, and played a very choice selection of music. The band of the Robin Hoods, under the direction of Mr. Turpin, joined the Yeomanry band, and the united performance was as excellent a musical treat as visitors to those grounds have experienced on any former occasion.

In front of the orchestra, a platform was erected, on which were placed a table bearing the cups, vases, and other prizes, and also seats for the Colonel, Mr. Paget, and the honorary Secretary, Dr. Wright. The regiment mustered in great strength. Arranged in line they could not find space to stand on along the terrace front, and the Colonel was compelled to echelon the companies, and form the front of the battalion in a diagonal across the plateau. Every member was in full dress, and they presented a really superb appearance. The parade movements were gone through in the usual style of the Robin Hoods. The marching past was especially deserving of the highest commendation. Colonel Wright must have been delighted at the efficiency of those under his command. Any colonel of any regiment in the world should have been proud and happy to command such men; and the only regret that might be felt was the absence, from illness, of some of the officers who have been most painstaking in their exertions to bring the corps to its present degree of efficiency, but who were unhappily compelled to be absent from the interesting proceedings. Colonel Wright and Adjutant White commanded alternately, and shortly after seven o'clock the regiment was formed into three sides of a square, to witness the Presentation of the Prizes.

Colonel Wright, addressing the battalion, said they had assembled on that occasion to witness the presentation of the prizes to those gentlemen, members of the Notts. Rifle Association, who had been fortunate enough to win them. It had been in contemplation, and, in fact, arrangements had been made for the presentation of those prizes at the close of the contest on Thursday afternoon; but the weather was so unfavourable that the idea could not be carried out. A postponement was the consequence, and Mr. Charles Paget, of Ruddington, one of the members in Parliament for the town of Nottingham, had kindly undertaken the task of giving away those prizes, which he (Colonel Wright) had no doubt the successful competitors would gladly receive from his hands. Mr. Paget was so well known and widely respected that he required no introduction at his (Colonel Wright's) hands.

He would just say a few words on the meeting that had taken place. They had not been particularly favoured in the matter of weather. The fact was that they had had weather of all sorts. The weather might have been a great deal better, -(laughter),- but it might have been a great deal worse. When they had not wind they had rain, and when they had not rain they had wind. But the shooting was remarkably good, especially when they took into consideration the amount of wind, and they should consider that the meeting was a very successful one. He could not omit to mention that their thanks were due to the working committee, and to the honorary Secretary, Dr. Wright, and, in the second place, the success which had attended them was to be attributed to the spirit with which the several competitors had entered into the contest. Every meeting of this kind should necessarily depend upon the chances of the weather to a great extent; and, on this occasion, the weather was seriously against them. Always on occasions of this kind it should be expected that there would be a certain amount of grievance and hard labour on the part of the competitors. They all knew a remarkable instance of that kind in the late Wimbledon competition. Sergeant Simkins stood second for the Queen's prize and stood well also for other prizes; and in shooting for the Queen's prize he was reported to have made a miss when it was generally supposed that he had made a hit. He (Colonel Wright) would not now enter into any inquiry as to whether the shot was a hit or a miss; but the fact was that Colour-Sergeant Simkins was adjudged to have lost the prize. He was also very close in another contest, and lost his Whitfield rifle, although, according to last year's mode of scoring he would have been the winner, for he had made the largest number of points. The result was that Colour-Sergeant Simkins, although close up for everything into which he entered, won nothing. That was rather disheartening, but he (Colonel Wright) had every hope that Mr. Simkins would overcome the difficulties which he might have to encounter at future contests. Nobody could have paid more attention to his duties, or more care to his shooting than he did; but he had unfortunately been subjected to the grievances mentioned. The competition at the butts this year had been remarkably good and everything passed off with that good feeling and kindly spirit, which were so strongly characteristic of the volunteer movement.

Mr. Paget, M.P., on rising was received with cheers. He said it was with much pleasure that he received the intimation from Colonel Wright requesting him to occupy the position which he then held, in presenting the prizes which had been won by the successful competitors at the late contest; and he only regretted that his age and the circumstances in which he was placed prevented him from having his name enrolled amongst the members of the regiment. They had heard that the weather on that occasion was exceedingly unfavourable; but he was quite certain that every member of the volunteers, notwithstanding the weather, was determined to do his best. The Volunteers understood what their duty was, and never enquired what the weather might be, but took it as it was, and did their best in the circumstances. (Cheers.) After the excellent and very eloquent speech, which had been delivered by his gallant friend, Col. Wright, and which had impressed him (Mr. Paget), as he was sure it must have impressed them, it would not be necessary for him to make a speech on this occasion. He would rather proceed at once to give the prizes, without making any other remarks; but, as one of the public, he felt that the late contests were such as were honourable to the age in which they lived, and must be appreciated by the people of England. Not many years ago, they would recollect, a suggestion was made by a French colonel that a sudden descent might be made on the shores of England; and whether we could have continued in the safety which for many years had been granted to us by a kind Providence, if it had not been for this Volunteer movement, was a very grave question indeed. (Hear, hear.) But they now knew that the establishment of the Volunteers of England had contributed greatly to destroy that feeling on the part of their neighbours. He recollected that after the Crimean war they had the authority of Admiral Codrington and General Williams, both of whom stated that of all the countries of the world there was none in which riflemen could be of such use as in England — that there was no country which could be defended so effectively as England by a body of riflemen. That opinion was expressed before the Volunteer force was formed. A hundred thousand riflemen in a state of efficiency could prevent any enemy from passing into England. We had a greater number than that now; and he conceived that it was greatly to the interest of all classes that this Volunteer movement should be supported and perpetuated. (Cheers) The consciousness of power always gave a feeling of safety. He trusted that this movement, which had been so successful in the past would be perpetuated in the future, and that the volunteers of this country would carry out their efficiency, and he was satisfied that if they did so this country might be considered safe from any invasion. He was gratified to say that there never was a people so thoroughly united as the people of this country at the present. If there were a million of the people of England in arms their force would only strengthen the country and our Queen. Before sitting down he would beg leave to say to his friends, the Robin Hood Rifles, that he congratulated them on having had for their chief an officer of such ability and such devotion to his duties as his worthy friend Colonel Wright. (Cheers.) He also congratulated that gentleman on having the command of a regiment so distinguished as the Robin Hood Rifles. (Loud cheers.)

Mr. Paget then proceeded to distribute the prizes to the several recipients, as follows:-

Prize I. Volunteers.Marks.
1st (£5), Bradley Private H., 8th Notts.17
2nd (£5), Dennett Sergt A., 4th Notts16*
3rd (£5), Lambert Private T., 5th RHR16*
Prize II. Volunteers.
1st (£5), Mince Private, 9th RHR17
2nd (£5), Wilson Corporal, 6th Notts16
3rd (£5), Guyler Private, 4th Notts15*
Prize III. Volunteers.
1st (£5), Shepperley Private J., 1st RHR18*
2nd (£5), Moss Private R., 2nd RHR13*
3rd (£5), Evans Lieut., 1st RHR13*
4th (£5), Brewster Private A., 1st RHR13*
Prize IV. Bronze Medal of the National Rifle Association and £10
Simkins Colour-Sergeant J.G., 1st RHR42*
Prize V. File-firing.Points.
1st (£10), Park Company, 5th RHR83
2nd (£5), Collingham Company, 6th Notts.69
Prize VI. Volley-firing.
1st (£10), Southwell Company, 8th Notts.66
2nd (£5), Collingham Company, 6th Notts65
Prize VII. Skirmishing.
1st (£10), Castle Company, 1st RHR47
2nd (£5), Southwell Company, 8th Notts.37
Prize VIII. Volunteers.Marks.
1st (Silver Cup), Hadden Captain, 6th RHR28*
2nd (£5), Hill Private, 5th RHR28*
3rd (£3), Osbourne Private, 10th RHR27*
Prize IX. Yeomanry.
1st (£10), Jackson Corpl., SNYC22*
2nd (£5), Morris Serget. H.,SNYC22*
Prize X. Association.
1st (£10) Hadden Capt., 6th RHR31
2nd (£5), Shepperley Private, 1st RHR30
Prize XI. All Comers.
1st (£15), Simkins Colour-Sergt, 1st RHR24
2nd (£5), Willesford Corporal, 4th Derby19*
Prize XII. Extra. Mr. Garle Browne.
1st (Engraving value £10.10s.), Hadden Capt., 6th RHR40*
2nd (£5), Shepperley Private J., 1st RHR40*

*Those marked thus shot off ties.

As Sergt. Simkins came forward he was received with loud applause both from the general public and his comrades of the Battalion. In handing him the bronze medal, Mr. Paget said: I have great pleasure, Mr. Simkins, in giving you this most important prize. It is a prize given by the National Association, and this bronze medal entitles you to compete for the prizes offered by that body. I am perfectly satisfied that it has been gained by remarkably good shooting.

The Hon. Member accompanied the presentation of the other prizes to the recipients with appropriate remarks, and at the termination, Colonel Wright said that the prizes having now been distributed, he had to thank them for their attendance in such numbers, and request them to join him in giving three cheers to the winners of the prizes. [The cheers were heartily given.] He should say that thanks were particularly due to Mr. Garle Browne, who had given the only extra prize this year. (Hear, hear.) He should also say that they ought not to part without giving three cheers for the Rifle Association, and its honoured president, the Lord-Lieutenant of the County. His Grace took a great interest in their welfare, and whether as soldiers or individuals in civil life they were called upon to acknowledge his Grace's favour. He had no doubt they would all join with him in giving three cheers for the Lord-Lieutenant, the Duke of Newcastle, President of the Nottinghamshire Rifle Association. (Three cheers were then given in the heartiest manner.)

The Colonel again said that there was one gentleman to whom they were particularly indebted for the manner in which the transactions of the association had been conducted, and the excellent way in which the late meeting had been carried out. The Working Committee of the Nottinghamshire Rifle Association was entitled to the thanks of every volunteer in the county, and first and foremost amongst them, thanks were due to their most energetic and painstaking secretary, with whose arrangements each of them had every reason to be pleased. He would, then, ask them to give three cheers for Dr. Wright, and the Working Committee of the Association. (The call was promptly responded to.)

Colonel Wright again rose and said he had now to ask them to manifest their appreciation of the kindness which had been exhibited by the Hon. Gentleman on his left (Mr. Paget), who had been good enough to come forward and officiate in the presentation of the prizes that evening. He (Colonel Wright) was quite sure they had had great satisfaction in receiving the prizes from that gentleman's hands: and he had no doubt that they all felt greatly obliged to him for the manner in which he had come forward at their request. (Loud cheers.)

Mr. Paget, on rising to return thanks, was greeted with renewed cheers. He said — I thank you, my friends of the Robin Hood Rifles, for the kind manner in which you have received the mention of my humble services. I only desire that I could be of more assistance to you, and beg you will all bear in mind that whenever in any way I can be of use, either by my person or my purse, both are at your service. Whenever there is anything wanting to assist your organisation, I shall only be happy if you will call upon me. (Loud and prolonged cheers.)

The Colonel then said that they were present upon their own grounds, but they had the pleasure of finding amongst them some members of the county corps of Yeomanry. Col. Holden had been good enough to allow them (the band of the South Notts. Yeomanry) to play there that evening, and he (Col. Wright) was sure he expressed the wishes of the battalion when he said they were all obliged to him for his kindness. Three cheers were then given for Col. Holden and the South Notts. Yeomanry Cavalry.

The battalion then left the ground, the band marching in front; followed by the Cadet Corps, who mustered strongly, and next by the effective body of the battalion. They marched through Castle Gate, the Pavement, Stoney Street, George Street, Lincoln Street, Thurland Street, and Pelham Street into the Market Place, and thence again into the Castle Grounds.

Transcript from the Special Supplement to the Nottinghamshire Guardian
Friday 15/08/1862 p1
Published by Thomas Forman, 14 Long Row, Nottingham.
British Library Newspaper Archive