Yet Another Bumper Bisley

Fitting perfectly into the faded glory that is the architectural infrastructure of the National Shooting Centre, the mossy green, 140-year-old, mildly foetid caravan, which is parked up in the aforementioned Dingly Dell, has been adopted as the unofficial clubhouse of the OFRC during the Imperial Meeting.

This phenomenon may or may not be explained by the presence of a large barrel of fresh Adnams all the way from the Suffolk coast supplied by James ‘If Carlsberg did jobs…’ Brocks.
This may also explain why, despite there being an impressive number of OFs, there were 37 other attendees.

Every Imperial Meeting has a unique flavour, but 2008’s was truly different and we are not talking about John ‘Kosher’ Halahan’s famed Chicken Sate here.

We are talking about not only the largest-ever contingent of OFs at the meeting, but also three students from the College, two of whom marked their debuts by making the prize lists.
Add in to this already rich mixture one Sandy ‘Smartarse’ Walker who, at the tender age of just 20, beat more than 1000 shooters from more than 20 countries to lift HRH Prince of Wales’ Prize – one of the most coveted in world shooting. Not content with being a chisel-jawed 6ft 4ins music student and general all-round good guy, the ‘Gangling Metronome’ also proved what an effortless talent he is with a rifle. The results show Sandy proudly at the head of the list:NRA Results

He was brutally murdered with several cleaning rods and now forms an integral part of the concrete foundation for the new 2009 OF clubhouse.

The meeting began as usual with the Public School Veterans shoot, with Fram able to put in no fewer than three five-man teams and a few to spare. With the youngest OF present just 19 years of age, and the oldest into his seventies, then you can begin to get an idea of the inclusive nature of the Society’s most active Club.

A Team




Nigel Burnip   


Tom Chapman           


Sandy Walker   


John Halahan    


Andrew Horton  






Result: 29th ex 50




B Team


Steve McDowell


Ben Shanson            


Nigel King


James Mehta


Robin Curtis   






Result: 16th ex 37




C Team


Neil Joy              


Jon Ford


John Horton


Brian Smith            


James Brocks   






Result:18th ex 25




Also shooting:


Jason Mickelow, Nick Podd




Lucas Aggregate of 3 teams




Result: 12th ex 17


Sadly, there was some disappointment as most of the shooters were overwhelmed by the occasion and dropped too many points. Steve ‘Disappointed’ McDowell not only lost four – more than the entire A team last year – but also expertly coached the rest of the team into mediocrity.

The fun behind them, the rambling conversation that passes for the AGM was held, with Nigel ‘Mugabe’ Burnip being unanimously elected on a single name ballot paper for the post of Beloved Chairman. He threw the Captain’s armband to John ‘Blazer Gang’ Halahan, in celebration of his 49.999th birthday, and the crumbs of respectability to McDowell who was made club Adjutant, which really means he gets to look after the club kit. James Mehta had his arm twisted and retained the onerous post of Hon Sec, as he has some while to go before approaching VivaElPresidenteGeneralissimoHisHighness Brian Smith’s record ten years in harness.

The rain set in for the first day of the meeting proper with the 8.30am detail for the 300 yards Donegall competition getting a legendary soaking for exactly the duration of the detail. Second and subsequent details were happily bathed in sunshine, which largely stayed with us for the rest of the Meeting. James Mehta, freed of the responsibilities of organising the OF shoots, started in sparkling form in the opening weekend competitions. His 1,000 yard “Lovell” competition was marred by a high “Magpie”, which probably was the origin of the undercurrent of grumbles about the issued ammunition for the rest of the week.

And what a week it was. Junior shooters from the College: – Jace ‘The Ace’ Palmer and Kimberley Pope – who led the College VIII to a respectable 16th placing in the Ashburton and, in doing so themselves made the Cadet 100, and Carl Witham led the way and we were joined for the first time by recent leaver Maddie ‘Honorary Geezer’ Bryant.

While all three enjoyed the meeting, leaving it as better shooters than they arrived, Carl was particularly impressive with a 48 and a 49 on the opening day and appearing on the first of a number of prize lists, including the tail end of Sandy’s “Prince of Wales”. He narrowly missed selection for the UK Cadet Team, and we look forward to many years of quality scoring from him as one of the legacies of the dedication Roy “Mr Carl” Witham has put into the College shooting side.

Carl Witham: an impressive start.

Meanwhile the rest of us struggled with fishtailing winds so vicious that cheers were audible when any shooter scored a V-bull at long range. Scores of less than 40 were commonplace even among international shooters, proving an embarrassment to the ‘Gemini Triplets’ of Steve ‘Sod this I’m off’ McDowell, James ‘There’s years left in the old thing yet’ Mehta and John ‘Representative Shooter’ Halahan. However, their shame was mitigated slightly by spending yet more cash on unnecessary kit.

Giving up for another year on their collective challenge for the top prizes (except Sandy obviously) the rest of the OFs simply got on with enjoying their meeting. Tom Chapman, star of last year’s Grand Aggregate seemed strangely distracted this year by the shapely form of his ammunition polisher, and failed to keep his eye on the ball, so to speak.

Dressing for a Dingly Dell Dinner, Adnams in hand, The Gemini Trio set to work on the OF BBQ

For the first time all three of the Triplets were selected for their respective counties, with James ‘Essex’ Mehta improving on his miserable performance last year, Steve ‘Captain Suffolk’ McDowell starting well but having yet another malfunction – unusually with his rifle – and John ‘Milk & two sugars’ Halahan enjoying his traditional role as pencil monitor for the eventual winners, London. Andrew Horton also enjoyed Suffolk selection, and held together a quiet but consistent scorecard throughout the week.

Despite last year’s successes the second rounds of this year’s Queen’s and St George’s Prizes were unencumbered by the useful presence of any OFs this year. Once again the presence of a large quantity of the Adnams family’s greatest creation may offer some explanation for this.

James ‘Spine of Custard’ Mehta – who had finally found a lost vein of form – and Carl ‘Pike’ Witham are worth particular mention here for arriving at the 600 yards firing point in the first round of the Queens Prize having dropped only one point each from a possible 70, and needing only 33s to get through to the second round. Neither came anywhere close! They, too, were savagely assaulted with cleaning rods before being forced to buy ice creams for the rest of the OFs who had dared to hope.

Knocked out in Round One? –
OFs and friends enjoy the best view of the Queen’s Final

With almost the last detail of the meeting proper, the OFs were presented with a splendid windless morning and only incompetence stood between them and final success. Sadly, Mr Incompetence is rather large and proved to be insoluble to most, although Maddie Bryant finally nailed a lovely 48 to ensure she has to come back again next year.

There was nothing left for it but the Agincourt. If there is one thing the OFs have plenty of its élan•• err•.. and lots of elderly military weapons. The annual Agincourt match is fired standing at 300 yards using any rifle between the British Alpine Rifle Club and France, and not being members of the former, under NRA rules we were therefore classified as French mercenaries. Steve ‘Sacha Distel’ McDowell finally won his much coveted medal – for France. Amusingly everyone else mostly missed. Ha! Next year we’ll do it with bayonets fixed.

The little thumnail photo at the head of this article shows our galant lads ready for the ‘fray in the Agincourt Match with,
L-R: James Mehta (1918 SMLE), Nigel Burnip (1916 P14), Gerard Depardieu lookalike, John Halahan (yet to acquire ancient rifle), and Steve McDowell (1941 No4 Lee Enfield)

Maddie Bryant nervously contemplates firing an 1886 Martini–Henry rifle from the Zulu wars.

She should make a full recovery after surgery

If you want to have a go with a target rifle or indeed anything else in our ever-growing arsenal, the next event is the OFRC Guest Day at Bisley on September 13th. Come along and bring a friend. Contact the Hon Sec by Email James Mehta


Join the conversation

Log in to add your comment


Add your own story

We encourage you to participate and send us your stories, whether news, events, ceremonies, or anything else you would like to share with your fellow Old Framlinghamians.