The Notts RA BP Open Championship Meeting 2016
The Nottinghamshire Rifle Association's annual black powder jamboree was again well attended by devotees from around the country. Some of those people arriving on the Friday morning were somewhat nonplussed to find the roads through Ashbourne closed off for a time due to a bicycle road race and in consequence were delayed in getting to the range. With everyone gathered together in the lower car park of the excellent Peveral of the Peak Hotel a party of the ladies departed on a sightseeing cum shopping expedition while the competitors made their way up to the range for the first competition.
Friday's Patched Ball Competition
|Patched Ball Scores|
The first competition of the weekend is for patched ball rifles, flint lock or percussion, at a figure target of a Russian Grenadier of the Crimean war period with a black circular aiming mark and a 34" circle superimposed. Those shots in the black circle are registered as a bull, those in the circle as a hit and those outside as a "miss-on-target". The range is 200 yards and ten shots are fired off hand and ten standing but resting the wrist on a tripod. This year we had a few more entries for this competition which was gratifying to see. Three people used pattern 1853 Enfield rifles, not designed to fire a patched round ball but still very capable of producing winning scores in this competition, two used flintlocks and the remaining five various makes of Park Rifle.
This year we were graced by the presence of the legendary Frank Page and his superb Staudenmayer Baker-type flint rifle and it came as no surprise when the scores were added up that Frank had the highest score with 13 hits including one bull. David Craven 2nd with 12 hits and no bull using his Enfield (his first time in the competition), 3rd David Plewka with 11 hits including three bulls (the largest number of bulls), 4th Andrew Russell with 11 hits and no bulls using the only other flint rifle in the competition, 5th Martin Tebbs with ten hits, 6th Mike Mott with 9 hits including one bull, 7th Len Jackson with 7 hits, 8th Jerry Womble with 5 hits counting out Robin Scott also on 5 by having 6 misses on target compared to Robin&a[pos;s 3 (this was Robin's first attempt at this competition and the first time he was using his Enfield with a patched ball), finally we come to Bill Parnham who was sadly forced to retire with 2 misses on target.
Saturday's Free Rifle Competition
Saturday is dedicated to the Free Rifle competition mostly using .451" match rifles but with several Enfield .577" military rifles also being used, on conventional round bull targets. This event is usually shot in reverse order of ranges starting at 400 yards and then working down to 300 and 200. Martin Tebbs took the golden palm at 400 yards with a decisive 41.2, Len Jackson was amazingly only just behind on 38.1 using a rifle held together with Duck Tape due to a broken barrel loop. David Plewka 3rd with 36.1 counting out Ken Watson on 36, John Whittaker 35, David Craven 34, Jerry Womble 33, Denis Chambers 32, David Minshall 29, Bill Parnham 26.1, Andrew Russell 21 and Robin Scott 8.
300 yards found David Craven with the top score of 43.1, 2nd John Whittaker 37, 3rd Jerry Womble 36.1, David Plewka 32.1 counting out Andrew Russell on 32, Ken Watson 31.1, Denis Chambers 30, David Minshall 29.1, Len Jackson 26, Bill Parnham 22.1, Robin Scott 14.
200 yards found David Plewka leading the field with 42.2, 2nd John Whittaker 39.2, 3rd Andrew Russell 36.2, David Craven and Jerry Womble both on 34.1, Martin Tebbs 32.1, David Minshall 32, Denis Chambers 28, Len Jackson 27, Bill Parnham 22 and Robin Scott 17.
This year's scores were somewhat down at the highest level but slightly up for the rest of the field. In any event the first place was a tie between John Whittaker and David Craven on 111.2 and was resolved on count back in favour of John Whittaker. 3rd place David Plewka 110.4, 4th Jerry Womble 103.2, 5th Martin Tebbs 102.4, 6th Ken Watson 98.2, 7th Len Jackson 91.1, 8th David Minshall 90.2, 9th Denis Chambers 90, 10th Andrew Russell 89.2, 11th Bill Parnham 70.2, 12th Robin Scott 39. Robin was using his Enfield .577" military rifle in this competition and so was at a considerable disadvantage against purpose designed match riles.
The weather had been kind to us thus far and despite clouds lurking for the whole weekend we escaped any rain during shooting, we were interrupted during the second detail on Saturday by a herd of cows determined to walk past the firing point to the butts, where they dropped anchor to admire the scenery. The butts party being informed of the situation Ann Vause led her forces into action. The cows were in playful spirit however and as one group ambled reluctantly away another small one moved in the opposite direction dividing Ann's forces. There was only one option left; release the Womble. Within a short space of time the fearless Jerry had ushered Sunday lunch on legs clear of danger and with the butts party safely back under cover the detail could continue.
Dinner and Prize Giving
On Saturday evening we were at the Coach and Horses, Fenny Bently, for the traditional meal and prize giving. The scores of the Friday and Saturday competitions are as far as possible kept confidential to lend an air of anticipation to the prize giving ceremony. This year at Ann's suggestion, the prizes were awarded while our meal was being prepared which saved time at the end of the meal for those who needed their beauty sleep or to prepare for the morning's competition.
Sunday's Minié and Volunteer Cup Competitions
Sunday dawned bright and clear and then promptly clouded over. But the rain held off, so we had pretty good conditions for our final shoot of the weekend, the Minie, shot on an 1861 style square target. Unlike the round bull we are all used to shooting on this has a square black 24" aiming mark within which is an 8" square bull. At 200 and 300 yards the bull scores 3, the rest of the black 2 and the surrounding white 1. At 400 yards the whole of the black scores 2 and the white 1. Enfield .577" military rifles of the time are used and a sling is not permitted. It is an interesting and challenging competition with only five shots to count at each distance. One warmer is permitted at 200 yards only and one non-convertible sighter at each distance. Individual scores are shown in the accompanying table.
The total scores produced many count backs but the clear winner was John Whittaker with 31, also second place was an equally clear 29, 3rd Ken Watson 27, 4th Robin Scott counting out two other scores of 26, Jerry Womble and Mike Mott in that order, 7th David Craven counted out David Minshall both with 25, 9th Andy Wike 24, 10th Denis Chambers 23, 11th Mike Hunting counted out David Plewka and Len Jackson and Martin Tebbs on 20. Last, least and finally Andrew Russell with 15 and the most consistent scorer of the event!
The shooting now being over and the butts cleaned up we assembled in the car park for the final awards before heading our separate ways. Apart from the usual bottles of wine etc. for the first three places; there is also a very nice silver cup to be awarded to the highest placed competitor who is a member of a Notts RA affiliated club. This for the past several years has been Bill Parnham and this year was no different. Bill topped the Notts scores with 29 followed by Jerry Womble 26, Mike Mott 26, Andy Wike 24, Mike Hunting 20 and Andrew Russell 15.
Acknowledgements & Thanks
That really concludes this year's Thorpe meeting apart from thanking Mike and Muriel Mott for organising the prizes, the indispensible cake and sandwiches and also Mike's vital help as range officer when required. Ann Vause was an absolute paragon undertaking the roll of medical officer, keeping the butts party under control and scoring (at one point scoring every card on one detail). David Minshall saved several heart attacks I am sure by repeatedly collecting the flags from the hills and Mike Hunting and Bill Parnham were immense as expected. Our latest recruit Robin Scott joined us for the whole weekend this year and our sincerest thanks for the use of his 4x4. Len Jackson was also indispensible with his general help and the kind use of his van to move equipment and people. To everyone who took part Thank You and to the ladies who permitted their other halves to take part Thank You too! If I have forgotten to mention any one in particular I apologise for that and I hope we shall all meet at the same place in 2017.
Andrew Russell, Hon Sec, Notts RA Black Powder Section.