“And gentlemen of England, now a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d, they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap, whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day”
Resounding wins in April’s Q Match and May’s Long Range Match had left the OFRC poised for the second year in succession.
Robbed last year by the thinnest of margins, this time the club seemed on the brink of failure again as some of the strongest team members unavoidably (well, pathetically if you ask us, but there we are) detained by domestic commitments.
An urgent call to arms to all members had the wires humming in the days prior to the match as email exhortations shot through the ether. Mike Coker, fresh from accountancy exams and not having touched a full-bore rifle for more than a year, and Robin Curtis, who for once left his rain-making powers at home, blocked up the breach with their English dead-eyes. Together they pierced the defences of our gathered foe and built a solid foundation for heroic advance.
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers assembled early on Bisley’s Stickledown range to be met with a stiff westerly breeze. Starting the day at a range where a misjudgement in wind direction and strength can easily have you scoring shots on you neighbour’s target is a good way to concentrate the mind.
Skipper “Falstaff” Burnip mustered his measly band and delivered a rousing speech to his troops worthy of the Great King Hal. An early advantage at these extreme ranges, he exhorted, would be difficult to overcome. The OFs annihilated their opposition in a storm of high long-range scoring. In truth, the match was won at the first range (900 yards) where an 18 point advantage was carried back.
1000 yards is only slightly further away, but those extra 100 yards make all the difference: the aiming mark is a pin-prick on the horizon, and the 7.62 bullet starts to slow down so much that even minor wind differences will move a well aimed shot three feet or more. But again we outshot the opposition. Team shooting is less about high scoring and more about consistency, but we had both.
Curtis brought his watery powers to bear by arranging for the only significant rainfall of the day to coincide with lunch. So the afternoon opened with the teams side-by side on the unforgiving 300 yard firing point. After the morning entertainment this seems so close that you feel you can reach out and touch the target. But any sense that this is getting easy is erroneous. With a bulls-eye less than the size of a saucer there is nowhere to hide an absence of technique. The gusting breeze now made aiming difficult as barrels were buffetted, but again stout OF resistance defied Lawrentian attempts to overhaul our long-range advantage.
At 600 yards Generalissimo Burnip again pumped up his troops with a pre-battle soliloquy that left his seasoned men-at-arms genuinely moved, and dewy about the eyes. Victory is within reach, he urged, take time and relish the pressure which is now being felt by the opposition. The wind was now fierce and changeable, and coupled by some of the most appalling butt marking ever experienced on Bisley Common, it would have been still possible to have the cup of victory dashed from our lips.
But again our team was united in stout defence, and the lead was increased to an overall difference of 50 points. A crushing victory, made even sweeter by the congratulations of our generous foe, as the boss lifted the Lizard Goblet, and with it the Treble.
|OFRC TEAM TOTAL||229.17||223.10||230.15||214.8||896.50|
|* OFRC Medal – Best shot of the day|
|OF’s also shooting|
The victors receive their prize