Merchant Taylors’ Boys’ School – CLRA Competition 2016

20 Jun 2016

Every year in May the County of Lancaster Rifle Association (CLRA) runs a cadet shooting meeting for all school and cadet teams operating in the North West. This year the meeting was attended by 15 competing sides, with the Army Cadet Forces of Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside and the Isle of Man, the Sea Cadet Corps, and schools including Sedbergh and ourselves putting forward teams, with these teams representing more than 6,000 cadets from the region.

This year the meeting was held on the 28th & 29th May, and this weekend turned out to be some of the best shooting weather I have seen in my five years in the shooting team.

With just one weekend of practice two weeks prior to the event to finesse and hone our skills after a year of not shooting this weapon, it seemed as though this year we would not be as prepared as we had in previous years. However this impression was quickly corrected, as on the first day of the two-day competition which was a check-zero event where we were allowed to shoot at 200 yards to confirm the sights on our rifles were correctly set, our A team of myself (CSM Bowen), CSM Cope, and Cpl’s Puddifer and Taylor, B team of Cpl Beveridge, L/Cpl Hodkinson, Able Seaman Fitter, and Cdt Harper, and Reserves of Cdt Blythe, Bostock and Stables were shooting consistently and accurately, building confidence in the teams.

This confidence carried over to the Sunday, where the competition started and the shooting was scored. Turning up at the Hightown hotel at 0745 the weather was ideal – the clear skies and very little wind made for perfect conditions. The morning consisted of a 300 yard shoot in our respective teams. With just 50 minutes to have the four man team shoot and each of their shots scored, it was a tough task, especially given that the cadets in the butts were having a tough time manipulating the targets due to their weight, which cost us valuable time. After shooting, as the two seniors, CSM Cope and I had to coach one another and then the other members of the team, adding further constraints to the time. Despite this, the shooting went well, and placed us in a good position in the tables, ready for the second shooting session that afternoon.

After a ‘Brownie’ – a paper lunch bag provided by 42 NW brigade each containing sausage rolls, chocolate, fruit, and water, we moved back to conduct the second shoot. This shoot was at 500 yards, which to give some idea of distance is the same as the length of 5 football pitches, with the ‘V bull’ on the target – the highest scoring centre ring – only being 6 inches across, making for a hard target. This shoot is naturally more challenging, however in previous years we have tended to do better at this range than the 300 yards. This year was no different, and despite the wind which had by now started gusting we scored highly across the board aided by a high quality of coaching supplemented by knowledge from RSM Brett, with the whole team (and the reserve pair of Blythe and Stables of note) scoring better than could have been expected given the now-windy conditions.

Overall the meeting proved a massive success for the team, as we won the overall competition for the third consecutive year (8 man team), 2nd in the aggregate shoot, placed 2nd (A team) and 3rd (B team) in the 4 man competition, and myself and CSM Cope placing 2nd in the 2 man team competition. As well as this the competition gave the new and un-vetted members of the team a chance to gain experience and help to develop their already capable skill set. Also a mention must go to the two who were in the butts for the weekend – Recruits Puthuran and Mannicham.

CSM Bowen