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Nottinghamshire Rifle Association

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The Robin Hood Rifles

A Local Branch of the MLAGB

ROBIN HOOD RIFLES — RECRUITING NOW!
The First Drill Commences on Monday, May 30th at Six O'clock A.M.

By Michael Hunting

 

This is certainly an early start but do not be alarmed. New recruits to the Robin Hood Rifles (RHR), a branch of the MLAGB, do not have to parade anywhere, let alone so early in the morning. This notice went out in 1859 when the RHR was formed from scratch as a Volunteer unit aimed at helping scare off Napoleon the Third of France from getting the idea that he might be able to succeed where his predecessor had failed.

An article in the London Illustrated News in 1860 quotes: "The Nottingham Battalion, or the Robin Hood Rifles, is decidedly one of the crack corps. It consists eight companies, all stationed in Nottingham. The uniform is Lincoln Green, with black braid and facings. The arms used by all the companies are the short Enfield, the Lancaster and the naval rifle".

A drawing which illustrates the article depicts a serious looking gentleman, with a jaunty hat, armed with an Enfield short rifle. Hanging from his belt is a sword bayonet and, judging from the apparent glint in his eye, he intends to use this fearsome piece of cold steel to put paid to any potential invader at the earliest possible opportunity.

A photograph of a Private of No 1 Castle Company, circa 1860, shows him armed with a Pattern 1853 Enfield rifle musket. It would seem that the comment in the Illustrated London News wasn't entirely correct. It's refreshing to note that the chap in the photograph has his (socket) bayonet fixed, so he's even more ready for instant action than the fellow with the short rifle in the drawing.

A veteran of the RHR writing of his experiences noted that: "At first the Government gave only twenty percent of us rifles, thinking that there would be only that number on parade at one time. Then they gave us fifty percent and finally one hundred percent. In consequence, No 1 and No 2 Companies bought their own rifles, which were "short" with sword bayonets. When finally the full number was allotted, those bought were no good and not allowed, so the purchasers had to dispose of them as best they could". I reckon the chap in the Illustrated London News with the short rifle and jaunty hat shed a manly tear when he was obliged to give up his sword bayonet. I bet that took the glint out of his eye!

On 22 April 2017 a group of us reformed the Robin Hood Rifles (RHR) as a branch of the MLAGB. Whilst the branch has existed for years it had, of late, lain dormant. Our first AGM/formation meeting took place after the Great Northern Match at Sprotbrough Range and perhaps it was fitting that the team from the Notts and Derby Vintage Arms Society won. That said our new RHR comprises 15 "volunteers" from Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire. Mind you I think Robin Hood took to hiding out in Yorkshire Forests when the Sheriff made things a little too hot for him in Sherwood.

Now we are established with 15 volunteers/members we are looking for like-minded people to join us. You will need to have a keen interest in blackpowder rifle shooting (Enfields mainly but use of other blackpowder arms is fine including cartridge rifles). You need to have an FAC, be a member of the MLAGB (or be prepared to join) and you will need a Competency Certificate for those arms you intend to shoot. If you have not got a Competency Certificate we will do all we can to help you get one, including the provision of necessary training etc. We aim to focus on mid-range shoots (200 to 500 yds) but will also practice at short range.

Our AGM voted in the following:— Chairman: Michael Hunting — Secretary: David Sillitoe —Treasurer: Bill Parnham.

We would be delighted to hear from you if you would like to join us. Please note that you do not have to have any associations with Nottinghamshire. Enquiries should be made to Michael Hunting by email at: hawlett13@yahoo.com