The Notts RA BP Open Championship Meeting 2018
Once again muzzle loading black powder enthusiasts gathered together from around the country at Thorpe Pastures in the Derbyshire Peak District to partake of our black powder extravaganza of rifle shooting taking place from Friday 15th to Sunday 17th of June. Last year we faced some very unpleasantly hot weather which took its toll on a number of competitors, at least on this occasion the conditions were more temperate.
The Patched Ball Competition
As usual our first competition was the 'patched ball' at 200yards with ten shots fired off hand and then again from a tripod rest at the now familiar target comprising of a representation of a mid 19th century Russian Grenadier within a 36" circle, in the centre of which is an 8" aiming mark. The object is to get all one's shots within the circle and preferably into the aiming mark (the soldier has no bearing on the score), hits outside the circle but still on the target board are recorded as a 'miss on target' to be used if necessary in count backs. This competition is quite a demanding one as not only do you fire twenty shots but the change from firing off hand to resting on a tripod can result in a different point of impact for the two strings of shots.
Any muzzle loading rifle firing a patched ball may be used with several flintlocks usually to be seen taking part and naturally percussion lock 'park rifles'. However, over the years there has been a growing realisation that the venerable pattern 1853 Enfield can also produce excellent results despite never having been designed for a patched ball – in fact specifically designed not to fire a ball at all – but it does mean that those who do not have the theoretically correct rifle can also take part with every possibility of victory.
This year the field had grown somewhat over the numbers taking part in the recent past with twelve people recording a score. After the smoke had cleared and score cards collated it was interesting to reflect that this year the winning scores were not as high as usual. In 1st place with 12 hits including one bull was Jerry Womble, 2nd Mike Alexandre of Jersey with 10, 3rd Andrew Russell with 8 including one bull. The full score list is on the right.
As a point of interest the first two places went to people using the pattern 1853 rifle with a patched ball while third place went to a flint rifle. There were various 'park' rifles evident on the firing point but their use tends to be infrequent outside of our competition at Thorpe.
The Free Rifle Competition
Saturday was completely occupied by the 'Free Rifle' competition shot in reverse order of 400, 300 and 200 yards at the usual round bull target. Several people elected to practice with their Enfield rifles and did not enter a score card, which is a shame as although a military rifle should not be competitive against a target rifle they have proven time and again capable of producing very good scores.
The weather was overcast with the threat of rain, which manifested itself as occasional drizzle with a chill wind . This did not unduly trouble David Minshall leading the field with a score of 42.1, Jerry Womble 37.2 narrowly ahead of David Craven on 37.1, Ken Watson 33, Robin Scott 32.1, Denis Chambers 30.1, Frank Page 28.1, Brian Frost 21 just counting out Mike Alexandre with a better final shot, Jason Buckingham 21 counted out Mark Jackson again by that final shot in the string.
300 yards proved to be no obstacle for D. Minshall on 40.1, J. Buckingham 32 counted out R. Scott thanks to a 5 with his last shot, F. Page 31.3, K. Watson 31.1 counted out his great friend D. Craven by a single point on the final shot, D. Chambers 28, J Womble 24, M. Alexandre 16. Brian Frost was afflicted with mechanical trouble and had to retire.
At 200 yards D. Minshall once again lead the field with a 42.1, D. Craven 35, K. Watson 33, J. Womble 31, D. Chambers 30, J. Buckingham 29.1, R. Scott 25, F Page 24, M. Alexandre 23.
The day had been interrupted quite often by sheep wandering over to see the excitement and the cows too stopped by to chew the cud. This meant the inevitable delay in competition while the livestock were guided clear of potential harm; but with the good offices of the butts party and those on the firing point the competition moved forward to its successful conclusion.
Saturday's events concluded with the usual well attended evening meal at the Coach & Horses in Fenny Bently and the prizes for the Patched Ball and Free Rifle competitions given out with presents to the ladies who contribute so much to the weekend.
The Minié and Volunteer Cup Competitions
Sunday morning was all set to be busy with the firing points on both details being completely occupied. Unfortunately several people did not take part after all but it was still probably the largest entry we have ever had for this competition with 21 actual participants. The weather was brighter today and everyone was eager to shoot at the 1861 type target with its square black aiming mark.
The scoring of this target is simple with 3 being scored for a strike in the 8" square bull, 2 for the rest of the 24" black and 1 for a strike in the white. This is the system at 200 and 300 yards but at 400 yards the black only scores 2 and 1 for anywhere in the white. No slings are allowed and with 1 warmer only at the initial distance of 200 yards followed by 1 non-convertible sighter and 5 shots to count at each distance of 200, 300 and 400 yards with wiping out allowed between shots this course of fire is a challenge but also far less onerous than the more usual 3/10 shots at each distance.
With a potential maximum score of 15 at the first distance of 200 yards, Bill Parnham came the closest with a score of 14, Frank Page 13, Alex McBaine, his son Andrew McBaine, Andrew Wike, Mike Hunting, Mike Mott, all scored 12, next came a clutch of 10', Robin Scott, David Minshall, Mark Jackson, David Craven, Jerry Womble and David Chambers. Len Jackson scored 9 as did Ken Watson. Jason Buckingham scored 8. Richard Tidswell scored 7 as did Mike Alexandre and Richard Barker. Malcolm Palk scored 5 as did Peter Coultard.
300 yards and D. Craven mastered the conditions best with a score of 12. R. Scott scored 10 as did A. Wike and D. Minshall. R. Tidswell scored 9 as did L. Jackson, M. Jackson and J. Womble. B. Parnham scored 8 along with M. Alexandre. M. Mott was the only 7. A. McBaine scored 6 as did J. Buckingham and D. Chambers. F. Page came a cropper after his excellent opening score with a 5 along with M. Palk and M. Hunting. P. Coultard scored 4 as did R. Barker. Al. McBaine brought up the rear with a score of 1.
400 yards and the scoring changes to 1 in the white and a simple 2 for anywhere in the black. It was D. Minshall who tamed this distance with a score of 9 points out of a possible 10. M. Jackson scored 8. F. Page scored 7 as did K. Watson. M. Palk scored 6 as did B. Parnham, J. Buckingham, J. Womble. R. Tidswell scored 5 as did An. McBaine, A. Wike, D. Craven and D. Chambers. L. Jackson scored 4 as did R. Barker. M. Mott scored 2. There now follows a clutch of 1's with R. Scott having a torrid time after performing so well at the previous distances, Al. McBaine, M. Hunting and M. Alexandre. Peter Coultard did not enjoy this distance and rounds off the list of scores.
With the shooting for this event now concluded after a number of interruptions from the wild life, which seems not to have unduly affected the shooting of those engaged on the firing point while the sheep and cattle were escorted away. The score cards had to be collated and checked to discover the overall winner of the three distances and also who would be the holder of the all important Volunteer Cup which is awarded to the highest scoring competitor from a Nottinghamshire Rifle Association affiliated club. With so many competitors and the limited number of points it is possible to score it is inevitable there will be clusters of people with the same scores and this requires careful study of the score cards to determine the order of merit.
Fortunately the top scores were clear cut and thanks to a consistently high score across all three distances the overall winner proved to be David Minshall by the slender margin of one point with a combined score of 29, 2nd was Bill Parnham on 28 and 3rd Mark Jackson on 27. The remaining scores are summarised in the table.
Bill Parham of the Robin Hood Rifles (a club only recently affiliated to the Notts Rifle Association) headed the local contingent and so is once again in proud possession of the Nottinghamshire Rifle Association Volunteer Cup.
Following the end of the competition every one assembled at the 400 yard firing point to take part in the firing of a volley in memory of Micky Nash, for a number of years a participant and supporter of our event at Thorpe until overtaken by illness. The prizes were then presented to the deserving winners of the final competition and we said our goodbyes to those who had travelled far to be with us for another year.
Acknowledgements & Thanks
Without the support of the competitors of whom a large proportion travel long distances this annual event would not be able to continue and this year we were indeed fortunate in the participation of several people who were new to our joyous weekend; Brian Frost entered for the first time and despite being afflicted by mechanical difficulties and not being able to shoot all his details still turned up to do invaluable work in the butts and as a register keeper on the firing point, Jason Buckingham from Oxfordshire made his first entry also and found himself roped in to be a scorer, he also proved keen to take in the view of the surrounding countryside while collecting flags which was very much appreciated by everyone who didn't fancy the strenuous climb involved. Mark Jackson from Dorset was another first timer along with Peter Coultard, Richard Barker and Richard Tidswell from closer to home. Alex and Andrew McBaine made a welcome return to Thorpe after a number of years absence.
Of course the meeting relied on the usual stalwarts of Team Mott , Muriel as usual provided the on range catering and sourcing of the various prizes as well as acting as a local guide on the usual trips out for the non-shooting ladies. Mike provided his usual much appreciated help and experience with range and butts duties as well as providing one of the tripods for the patched ball competition. Due to the increased number of competitors it was decided to appoint scorers so that those firing could concentrate on their shooting and so increase the pace of the competition, an innovation that was a decided advantage on the Sunday morning. Thanks to all those who performed this task.
Range transport was provided at various times by Len Jackson and Robin Scott with Mike Hunting's trailer. The generous help given really does make a great contribution to the success of the weekend.
Our gathering together for the 2019 meeting will be slightly later in the June with a proposed date of Friday the 21st to Sunday 23rd. We hope to see everyone back again in good health and spirits, with a few new people too!
With the conclusion of the main meeting at lunchtime, it proved possible to conduct a short and unusual competition for those who could stay and also several people who were not able to make the morning details. The course of fire entailed teams of three bursting three balloons at 200 yards on a first team to burst all three on their target wins basis, the winners of the first detail then shooting against the winners of the second detail. This proved to be a great deal of fun and was the brainchild of Bill Parnham and Michael Hunting of the Robin Hood Rifles. Those who had arrived for the afternoon shoot contributed their share of the cost for the range hire.
Andrew Russell, Hon Sec, Notts RA Black Powder Section.