In the dull and dreary winter months of 2017, I became nostalgic of my time in the SV shooting team. I remembered fondly the team spirit and camaraderie, not to mention the bright glint of silverware that adorned the entrance to the Headmaster’s Office at the time. I remembered those years as the golden days of SV shooting.
It then came to my attention that very few of the talented SV marksmen had continued practising the sport of rifle shooting after leaving Sutton Valence. I soon contacted Glen Millbery, who was more than happy to set up regular, monthly OS shoots at the school 25-yard range.
After a slow start, old faces began to reappear, taking up the familiar position behind the rifle once again. It soon became clear that marksmanship was not a perishable skill: as the months of 2018 progressed, smallbore (.22 calibre) target score averages, marked out of 100 per target, began to increase, with a high score of 99 by Richard Cantillon and notable performances by Harry Percival, Chris Dale, and Freddie Pawlick. It was great to see such a triumphant return to target rifle shooting for the Old Suttonians.
Sutton Valence School Rifle Club, which is Home Office approved and NRA affiliated, is steadily building its OS contingent. The Old Suttonian Rifle Association, affiliated to the larger SVSRC, is able to bring together OS of all years and all degrees of talent to reignite their ability and desire to shoot, to reminisce about their time in the shooting team, whether it be three years or three decades ago, and to serve as an inspiration for the current school team, who will hopefully continue to shoot with the OSRA once they leave Sutton Valence.
Ultimately, as a fully functioning Veterans rifle club, it is hoped that the OSRA will be able to compete on a par with other Veteran rifle clubs, such as that of Epsom or Uppingham, and serve as a pool of coaches for the school shooting team, which will be a vital asset. Harry Percival, Captain of the University of Exeter Rifle Club, for instance, has now volunteered to assist and coach the school team at the NRA Schools Meeting at Bisley, part of the wider Imperial Meeting, this July.
We hope to enter more team and individual shoots as the club progresses, such as .22 winter leagues, the KCRA Open (see accompanying article), the Veterans shoot at Bisley, and the larger Imperial Meeting, the major national fullbore (7.62 calibre) competition each year. Through the support of Sutton Valence School and the Old Suttonians Association, the OSRA will continue to thrive. However, we need Old Suttonians to achieve this.
Calling any OS marksmen who want to get back into the sport. Join the OSRA, return to the glory days of SV shooting, and secure its future for years to come. We do not expect high scores, especially not with Major Prem or Phil Horley coaching; it is as much about the social at the Clothworkers Arms after the shoot, as it is the shoot itself. We welcome all ages and all abilities; don’t hesitate, get involved now.
Anthony Bromley (Club Captain)