The Notts RA BP Open Championship Meeting 2019
Friday's Patched Ball Competition
Having gathered our competitors for the first shoot of the weekend, we made our way to the range and the 200 yard firing point where we would shoot the Patched Ball event.
The target comprises a picture of a 19th century Russian Grenadier surrounded by a 30" circle in the centre of which is a 4" round black aiming mark. The soldier is not strictly relevant to the target as it does not have a scoring value although it can assist in aiming and does make the target out of the ordinary. Scoring the target follows the old system of a shot outside the circle scoring as a Miss-on-Target, a hit within the circle as a Hit and for a hit in the round black aiming mark as a Bull. Ten shots are fired off hand and then another ten off hand but with the assistance of a tripod rest to support the wrist.
Various types of rifle are used from Flintlocks, Percussion, 'Park Rifles' and even the venerable .577 three band Enfield, which was never designed to fire a round ball but has over the years proved itself perfectly capable of winning this competition. As the competitors addressed the targets the weather was fine and dry with a slight breeze. Shooting off the tripod can be a challenge if you do not have much practice at it, as several people found out after doing quite well off hand.
The leading scorer off hand was Jerry Womble with 7 hits including 1 bull. He was closely followed by Andrew Russell with 7 hits but no bulls. The rest of the field fared rather less well lead by Mike Mott with 4.1. Given the tripod, Mike made an excellent 9 hits, no bulls. He was followed by Jerry on 6.2 and Andrew with 5. On combining the scores, Jerry Womble came out on top with 13.3 and Mike Mott second with 13.1.
Saturday's Free Rifle Competition
Saturday was another fine day and very suitable for the Free Rifle competition. This is shot with one warmer, three convertible sighters with ten to count with the details starting at the furthest range of 400 yards and then working forwards to 300 yds, ending on the 200 yds firing point. The targets being the usual round aiming mark type we are all familiar with.
At 400 yards Jerry Womble scored well with a 39.2, David Minshall nibbling his heals with 38.2 and David Craven with 36.1. At 300 yards David Minshall was now into his stride with 43.5, David Craven 38.1 and Jerry Womble slipping slightly with a 36.1. At 200 yards David Minshall and David Craven were chewing on the same bone David M with the larger portion at 34.2 while David C had 34.1, Ken Watson who had been scoring consistently throughout the match made a 32.
The aggregate scores proved to be not quite as high as in some previous years which given the benign conditions was a little surprising, perhaps things were not as benign as they looked!
Over the day there had been some interruption from the wildlife, chiefly sheep but the cows paid us a visit towards the final detail and no doubt these enforced lulls in proceedings while they were guided out of harms' way had an effect on the scores.
Having added up the days scores the results would be announced at the usual evening dinner at "The Coach and Horses" in Fenney Bentley. It was no surprise to find that David Minshall, one of the best muzzle loading black powder shots in the country had taken 1st place with a score of 115.9, David Craven, again one of the best, 2nd on 108.3, 3rd Jerry Womble on 105.4, 4th Ken Watson on 98, 5th Robin Scott on 95.1, 6th Martin Tebbs 72.3, 7th Frank Page 71.1.
Sunday's Volunteer Cup Competition
Sunday morning was again a nice day and ideal for the Minié competition for the Enfield .577 rifles. We were pleased to have the new Notts RA Chairman Douglas Robson on hand to observe and photograph proceedings. This tends to be our best attended competition of the weekend due to the day and the novelty of target combined with a short string of shots at each of 200, 300 and 400 yards. The target is of a type used by the original volunteers for a time in the 1860's with a 24" square black aiming mark within which an 8" square is drawn in white. The scoring consists of a 1 for a shot in the white, 2 for the outer black and 3 for a shot in the centre box; this is the scoring for 200 and 300 yards but at 400 yards the scoring is simply a 1 in the white and 2 in the black. One warmer, one sighter (not convertible) and five shots to count are required at 200 yards and for the subsequent distances just the sighter and five scoring shots are taken.
The competition set off at a lively pace in good bright weather with an audience of admiring sheep. Because of the limited range of scores available there tends to be a number of people on the same score which requires quite a lot of examination of score cards. But in the end the fateful moment came to announce the scores and the winner of the Nottinghamshire Rifle Association Volunteer Cup.
Supporting the rest of the table in 15th place Richard Tidswell 8, 14th Robin Scott 12, 13th on count back Peter Coultard 15, 12th Jon Clough 15, 11th David Craven 17, 10th Ken Watson 19, 9th Richard Barker 20, 8th Andrew Russell 22, counted back by 7th place Frank Page 22, Mike Hunting was counted back to 6th place by Jerry Womble 5th both on 24, 4th Andy Wike 26 counted back by 3rd David Minshall 26. So many count backs ! And knock me down with a feather to decide the winner of the match and the Volunteer Cup yet another count back. Mike Mott was squeezed into 2nd place by Bill Parnham with scores of 27. Bill will one year not win this cup and will have to have it surgically removed from his hands having held it for so long.
Memorial Volley, Prize Giving, and Thanks
The ladies joined us at the 400 yard firing point for the prize giving. The assembled competitors first formed up to give a volley in memoriam of Paul Casey, a Nottinghamshire shooter who had also been a much respected Firearms Enquiry Officer, and also one for Less Eggs who was a stalwart of muzzle loading rifle at Bisley for many years. Both will be missed by their many friends.
These ceremonies being concluded and thanks being given to all those who took part and the ladies for their help and allowing their other half to play, those who had to travel departed. The range was then handed to the Robin Hood Rifles club for an afternoon shoot with a difference.
The RHR at Thorpe Cloud June 2019.
Special mentions need to be made of Muriel Mott, for her unstinting commitment to the on-range catering needs, Mike Hunting, for generously doing flag duty over the weekend, Robin Scott, for allowing the use of his pick-up on the range, and all those who were range officers, scorers and those who worked so hard in the butts.
In short we had a good meeting with pleasant weather with only moderate interruption from sheep and cows. Numbers were generally slightly down due to prior commitments of some of our regulars; but the under-lying trend is sound.
Andrew Russell, Hon Sec, Notts RA Black Powder Section.