For our second October shoot, OSRA returned to Bisley on 26th-27th October in the hope of better weather and even better scores than last year. While the oppressive rain was quintessentially British, the team performance was a marked improvement over 2018.
Arriving at Bunhill Lodge on the Friday, the OSRA contingent celebrated the birthday of our oldest member, Chris Dale. At the age of 31, Chris is comfortably the grandfather of the team, but, keen to prove his youthfulness, Chris drank a bottle of whiskey in celebration. Since the 150th Imperial, there is an OSRA adage that you choose either a whiskey or an HPS the evening before the shoot. Suffice to say that Chris chose the former and ended up spending over fifteen hours in bed the following evening to recover.
Despite Chris’s hungover state, the Saturday training began with a talk from Club Captain, Anthony Bromley. Anthony, who just the weekend before had attended the first English Lions training, wanted to impart his new knowledge about goal setting and psychology to his team. In the face of a room full of pale faces and thousand-yard stares, there was some level of response from the team. Ted Ervine’s experience of Kent rugby in particular helped to reinforce these new ideas.
Venturing out to Century at 9:30, the enigmatic wind conditions at 600x were an interesting experience, and a good challenge for those in the coaching chair. Issues with the electronic targets, which register shots on a computer screen on the point, were a pain, but the purpose of the day was to train, not to score highly. As such, our shooters attended more to their position and processes than the number of bulls.
In the afternoon, the heavens opened; 900x on Stickledown was a watery affair. Nevertheless, in spite of further issues with the electronic targets registering hits, there were some tight groups in the bull at this long range. Bedraggled but bolstered in spirits from their day of training, OSRA was prepared for the inaugural Blues Match the following morning.
Established as a competition within the club to level the playing field with mixed experienced teams, the Blues Match also welcomed the Exeter Alumni Rifle Association (EARA) in their inaugural outing as a team. OSRA was split into two teams, with Ted Ervine and Chris Pawlik trying out the role of captain. With fairer weather and virtually absent wind, it was all to play for.
After 300x, there was just three points between the two OSRA teams, with Pawlik extending the lead over Ervine. Despite some unfortunate elevation mistakes and a temporary rifle issue, EARA put in a solid performance, with captain Tom Chapman scoring a 48.5. At 600x, the wind was trickier and could easily (and did easily) catch out a complacent coach. Team Pawlik was nevertheless able to extend its lead to finish on 288.26 (ex 300.60), with Team Ervine close behind on 284.25. EARA were pressed for time, but managed to put in a respectable final score of 257.14.
Overall, this was another exceptional training weekend for OSRA. As we begin to nurture new talent from Harriet Aburn and Freddie Pawlik, we are excited for what the future may hold for the club. With the club fullbore rifles in the safe hands of Tom Rylands for a winter service, members look forward to some smallbore trigger time at the Sutton Valence range in the upcoming months.