I continue to marvel at the progress of the OSRA. When I originally envisioned what OS shooting could become, discussing with fellow university shooters Tom Fermor and Harry Percival, I never imagined the club could develop from inception to county representation in under a year.
In 2018, the unprecedented popularity of the 149th Imperial Veterans Match saw fifteen Old Suttonians journey to NRA Bisley to reminisce about their time in the SVS Shooting Team and showcase the wealth of marksmanship talent within the OS community. This proved to me that the love of the sport had not faded with time; there was a desire to usher in a new form of SVS shooting.
Since the Veterans Match, the OSRA has moved from strength to strength. In October, we held our first major training day in the blistering winds and unforgiving conditions of autumnal Bisley; in November, we became the first non-university club to attend a British Young Shooters’ Association event. In the 2019 fullbore season, we began with a highly enjoyable training day in March, which was needed to ‘blow-out the cobwebs’, and we held our first Easter Bisley in April, in which, coached by the U25 Long Range World Champion, Jason Pepera-Hibbert, we comfortably beat the RAF Target Rifle Club.
It was at this stage in April, aware of how well the club was shooting as a whole, that I realised we may be able to help the Kent County Rifle Association, who have struggled with numbers recently. As a result, Chris Pawlik, Richard Cantillon, and Chris Dale all shot for Kent against the Royal Navy, claiming a narrow victory of just a few points. Tom Fermor and myself also represented Kent in the King George V inter-county match, in which Kent unfortunately lost to Sussex and Surrey, despite our admirable team performance.
Building upon this growing relationship with Kent, on 8th June, we competed in the Kent Schools’ Match against Tonbridge School, the Old Tonbridgeans and KCRA. Despite the Sutton Valence team being unable to make it this year, OSRA came in second place to the Kent team. Following this much-needed self-coaching practice, a record seven Old Suttonians entered the Kent Open the following day. Despite tricky conditions, we had our fair measure of success, with Chris Pawlik claiming the top spot for B Class, returning home laden with the Kent Challenge Cup and the Rose Bowl, and myself taking second place at 900 yards with a score of 49.9/50.10.
OSRA Success at the 2019 Kent Open: (left to right) Anthony Bromley; Tom Fermor; Chris Youngman; Chris Pawlik; Chris Dale.
The following weekend, at the Inter-Counties, myself and Chris Pawlik represented Kent once again. I won the U25 R. Jarvis competition with a score of 104.10/105.21, and I achieved the top score for Kent in the Short Range competition, with a score of 148.14/150.30. Chris Pawlik was the second best shot at Long Range, with exceptional scores of 73.10/75.15 at 900x and 67.5/75.15 at 1000x.
Overall, the Kent Open and the Inter-Counties displayed to all Kent shooters that the OSRA was the future of Kent shooting. Many GB Veterans from Kent came up to me at these events to express not only how impressed they were with Old Suttonian marksmanship, but also with the team as a whole, which easily integrated into the main body of Kent shooters. They seemed genuinely excited to have such an injection of young blood into the county club.
Anthony, receiving the silver salver from the NRA Chairman, John Webster, for winning the U25 R. Jarvis match
We now look forward to the 150th Imperial Meeting in July, an international competition – one of the largest in the world – in its special, anniversary year. Five Old Suttonians have entered the 10-day competition: myself, Tom Fermor, Chris Dale, Chris Pawlik, and Chris Youngman. I am also particularly delighted to announce that OSRA has facilitated the first Suttonian entry into the Imperial for over a decade: Ted Ervine. It is fantastic to see the OSRA not only thriving in itself, but beginning to use that success to bring about progress in the SV Shooting Team as well.
It goes without saying that OSRA has made significant strides over the past year. This is in no way isolated to any individual effort – I am certainly not taking credit – but due to an enduring passion for target rifle shooting and for OS shooting as a whole. The 2018 Veterans showed me that this passion, which I had witnessed in my time in the SV Shooting Team, continued to burn within many Old Suttonians. In the year since, that passion has fuelled the OSRA, and firmly marked us as a formidable, emergent shooting team. I am proud of how far the OSRA has come in the past year; I can only imagine what we will achieve in the future.
Anthony Bromley (Club Captain)