Nottinghamshire Shooters Take on the Confederates Again
Notts. and Derbys. Vintage Arms Society
34th Battalion Virginia Cavalry
of the North/South Skirmish Association of America (NSSA)
Falling Plate Competition, 31st October 2015
By Michael Hunting, NADVAS Team Captain
On Sat 31st Oct a team of 5 shooters from the Notts & Derby Vintage Arms Society took part in a falling plate match against a team comprising 5 members of the 34th Battalion Virginia Cavalry who are a unit of the American North/South Skirmish Association. We shot our part of the Match in Nottingham and they shot theirs in Virginia. We each filmed the shoots and these will be posted on You Tube. The NADVAS film can be accessed by clicking on this link. The 34th's film is on Facebook.
The Match format was as follows. Teams of 5 shooters with muzzle loading rifles of a type used in the American Civil War (The British team all used Enfields); each shooter faced a PL7 sized sheet of white paper, 50 yards away, to which 4 standard clay pigeons were attached so as to form a square pattern which, if an actual PL7 had been used as the background, would have meant that the clays would be touching the 7 ring at 2 O'clock, 4 O'clock, 8 O'clock and 10 O'clock; at a signal each shooter opened fire and, once he'd hit all his 4 clays, he was permitted to move to another firing point to assist a fellow shooter who had yet to hit all his targets; the stop watch timed the hit on the last clay and the overall time was the score.
We knocked all our clays down in 6 minutes and 57 seconds. The Americans got all theirs in 4 minutes 37 seconds.
The British team comprised: Andy McBain (Parker Hale short rifle), Jerry Womble (Original bar on band short rifle), Michael Hunting (Parker Hale rifle), Bill Parnham (Original short rifle), Bruce Chadd (Parker Hale carbine)
This was a very challenging match as hitting a clay at 50 yards standing is akin to hitting the 8/9/10 ring on a PL7 and in addition there isn't a recognisable aiming mark. Whilst range rules for shooters in the UK required that each shooter's 4 clays were attached to individual targets, in America all 20 clays can be suspended from a single board, thus reducing the gaps considerably and therefore making it easier to hit the clays. In addition, cross firing is permitted for our American friends.
The Americans understand the constraints we must adhere to on the format of competition shoots because of range rules in the UK and have therefore invited us to design a new match involving non-paper targets which we can use as a basis for further competitions and which will fit with both UK and US range safety orders and not afford one side or the other an advantage.
Prior to this match our potential team of 10 shooters practiced shooting at paper "clays" stuck to a blank PL7 at 50 yds. This taught us about aiming points and served to allow selection of the team of 5 on the basis of who scored most hits at practice. During the match we were watched by a number of spectators who all said that it was fun to look at a competition like this where shooters were under a time constraint and they could see the progress of the competition as the clays were hit.
The lessons we learnt were:
- Shooting at paper clays in training is essential and improves an individual's ability to shoot from the standing position.
- Competing as a team is good for individual and group morale (Esprit de Corps).
- In traditional paper target competitions weaker shots may feel anxious about taking part as a team member, lest a low score lets other shooters down. In a falling plate type match this is not really an issue as it is difficult to work out who has hit more targets than others.
- Matches like this are great fun to watch unlike traditional paper target competitions.
We will be liaising with our American friends in devising an international match.
If any clubs in the UK would like to get involved I'd be delighted to work with you and, hopefully, we could set up some matches between ourselves, either in person or by video.
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