The weekend of 13th-14th April saw a strong team of Old Suttonians return to Bisley to further hone their skills, hopefully beat the RAFTRC, and bask in the burgeoning success of OSRA as a club. Similar to our March event, OSRA talent shone throughout the weekend; further to last month, all Old Suttonians present showed signs of progression, facilitated by their unquenchable desire to learn.
Saturday: Long Range Training
Having arrived to Bisley late on Friday evening, the team enjoyed a few drinks at the RAFSAA clubhouse with the BYSA, before returning to our bitterly cold accommodation. The plan for Saturday was a baptism of fire for those who hadn’t shot before this year: 1000x all day in challenging wind conditions.
Novice wind coaches were paired up with more experienced Old Suttonians in a format of ‘soft coaching’, whereby the novice shooter would self-coach, but receive moderate guidance from their partner where necessary. Whilst this naturally impacted their scores, everyone agreed that they benefited from the experience, and some excellent scores were still produced.
After a long and cold day of shooting, we returned to K lines, where Tom Fermor cooked us up a delightful meal on his BBQ. Despite it not being BBQ weather, no one complained at Tom’s succulent slow-cooked leg of lamb, which we all hungrily devoured, before returning to RAFSAA to see the young shooters.
Tom Fermor taking on the challenge of 1000 yards.
Sunday: OSRA vs. RAFTRC
OSRA competed against the RAFTRC in a friendly Empire match (300x, 600x, 900x, 1000x) on the Sunday. Having sighted in the club rifles the day before, the team of seven were confident of their chances. Beginning at short range, 300x was a welcome change from 1000x the day before. Impressive scores were produced all round, with special mention having to go to Chris Dale for his exceptional 50.4/50.5, his first HPS with a target rifle.
Moving back to 600x, the wind became considerably more challenging. Steady scores were held by the team, but many felt disheartened, having just experienced the comparative ease of 300x. Nevertheless, Club Captain, Anthony Bromley, had a plan to boost morale.
Chris Pawlik preparing for his first day of long-range shooting.
Saturday’s long range practice was intended to give the novice OS shooters some invaluable experience of wind coaching at long range. For Sunday’s long range shoot, Anthony asked Jason Pepera-Hibbert, the winner of the U25 Long Range Aggregate at the World Championships in January, to coach OSRA. This would show to all the Old Suttonians that a low score does not necessarily indicate poor performance; the wind is often a great challenge at times.
Sure enough, Jason coached OSRA with elegant ease, and the team returned to the top-level performance it had enjoyed at 300x. With Jason’s help, OSRA finished triumphant at 1000x, beating the RAFTRC with a score of 1279.87 to their score of around 1250. The whole team should be proud of their performance, particularly those, such as Freddie Pawlik, for whom this was their first shoot since October. The full list of their scores below is indicative of their exceptional performance.
Well done to the whole team; you should be proud of your shooting.
Note: each score in the above table is out of 50.10. Every shot is out of a total of 5.1, which signifies a ‘V-Bull’, more central than a standard Bull, which is marked as a score of 5.
The Team: (top) Tom Fermor; Freddie Pawlik; Chris Youngman; Jason Pepera-Hibbert; (bottom) Harry Percival; Chris Dale; Chris Pawlik; Anthony Bromley.
In amongst all of the shooting success, one particular Old Suttonian, Chris Dale, became the cause of a lot of amusement for the club, for reasons that will likely follow him throughout his time at OSRA.
It all started when Chris took a dislike to our shiny new club Swing. With the club Paramount having lovingly received the nickname ‘Pegasus’, Chris, who had shot with Pegasus before, decided that the new Swing, which he had been allocated for the Imperial and therefore should shoot, was the cause of his supposedly sub-par shooting performance.
Chris initially focused on the fact that the sight ‘wobbled’ (#itwobbles), which he blamed for his lower-than-expected scores at long range, rather than the challenging wind. As Chris showed increasing disdain for the club Swing, and began to look longingly at Pegasus, we took it to Fulton’s, where a quick fix made its sights as secure as Pegasus’s.
With this having made limited difference to Chris’s performance, he turned his focus on the buttplate, which he claimed was too smooth, causing butt-slip, a common issue for all target rifle shooters. Despite having shot his first HPS with the ‘smooth’ butt-plate, Chris took the newly named ‘Wobbles’ back to Fulton’s for a replacement butt-plate. A hefty card payment later and Chris returned with a modified Wobbles.
It is true that there was a noticeable difference with this new butt-plate: it was smoother than the last one. ‘But it’s adjustable!’, Chris exclaimed, insistent that this was a worthy investment. Despite not shooting another HPS, Chris was now happy with Wobbles, and looked forward to shooting it at the Imperial. The Team, on the other hand, would remember the rocky start of Chris’s relationship with Wobbles.
Some of the team enjoying the spring sun and showing off their new polos, generously provided by Blue Fieldsports.
On this bracing April weekend, I witnessed a group of Old Suttonians become a team of OSRA. Camaraderie, humour, and a collective love of our unique sport united us in a way that I think will define the club for years to come. The future of OSRA is secured by the people who commit to, thrive, and take pride in their club and all that it stands for. The team at Easter Bisley embodied this OSRA spirit.
As #itwobbles shows above, the team is capable of enjoying and taking fun in the quirks of the sport and its members. This is complemented by the competitive side of the club, exemplified in some of our members being invited to shoot for Kent against the Royal Navy on 28th April. The success of OSRA signifies success for all UK shooting. As we look forward to welcoming new Old Suttonians into our community in July, the future of our sport looks brighter than ever.
I am fiercely proud of all that OSRA has and continues to achieve. I invite you to follow OSRA, the youngest alumni rifle club in the UK, as we make our mark on the shooting world.