The Nottinghamshire RA
BP Open Championship Meeting 2021
19th - 20th June at Thorpe Cloud
The annual Black Powder weekend at Thorpe Cloud tentatively re-emerged from under the black cloud of Covid 19 in a truncated format following last year's cancelled event. Because of the ongoing range restrictions and difficulties with travel and accommodation, it was decided to shorten the event to two competitions. Usually, we have the Patched Ball competition on the Friday afternoon with the Free Rifle event taking the whole of Saturday followed by an evening meal when the prizes for the two competitions are presented, and ending the weekend on Sunday morning with the Enfield competition with the final prize giving ceremony. However, with the restricted numbers allowed on range at any one time and the social distancing measures to be observed, getting people to be in the right place at the right time with the numbers likely to attend looked to be a fraught undertaking. It was decided to simplify matters by dropping the Free Rifle from this year's program and reducing the weekend to just the Saturday, without the evening meal, and Sunday.
The numbers expected to attend were obviously down on the previous year's due to the circumstances; but there still seemed enough interest and entries to make full use of the range space and time available. Unfortunately, as the date grew closer a number of people found that they would not be able to attend after all because of changing work or family commitments with the added difficulties of accommodation, which significantly reduced the competitor numbers.
The Saturday Shooting
The first competition as usual was the Patched Ball. Fired at 200 yards with ten rounds from the offhand position and a further ten supported by a tripod rest, the target now very familiar to those who regularly take part of a Russian Grenadier of the Crimean war period with an 8" bull surrounded by a 30" circle. A variety of rifles are used in this event, from the flintlock, the percussion park rifle and often very successfully the .577" Enfield military rifle. It was a great disappointment when the numbers taking part in the competition dropped at the last minute to just two with two others practice firing at the conventional round bull target alongside.
The first competitor was the well-respected John Whittaker from Cumbria firing a two-groove percussion park rifle. John had neither fired this rifle previously at 200 yards nor had experience of using a tripod rest, so it was to his great credit that he was able to record a score of 7 hits (including 4 bulls) from this position. From the offhand position John fared less well scoring 3 hits including one more bull for a grand total of 10.
The second competitor was Andrew Russell from Nottinghamshire using a reproduction flintlock rifle. He scored 10 hits (including 2 bulls) from the rest and offhand a further 5 hits including one further bull for a combined score of 15.
The Sunday Shooting
The entry for Sunday was again diminished with only six entries (including Nick Pye who had travelled down from Scotland especially for the event) for the Minié competition, which on this occasion would see the inauguration of the Michael Mott (1861) Trophy for the highest placed competitor from outside a Nottinghamshire RA affiliated club. Michael was the originator of the black powder weekend and a staunch supporter along with his wife Muriel.
The competition requires five shots to count on a square target of the same design as used at Wimbledon in 1861, scoring three for a bull at 200 and 300 yards with the rest of the black a two and the white a one. At 400 the whole of the black scores two.
At 200 yards everyone scored well with John Whittaker and Andrew Russell slightly ahead on 13. At 300yds John Whittaker and Bill Parnham topped this range with 11 points each. The deciding last distance of 400 yards can be very tricky; but not for Bill Parnham who only dropped one point to score 9, the next closest was our new friend from Scotland Nick Pye with 7 points.
In short Bill Parnham won the competition with a combined score of 32, 2nd John Whittaker 28 (despite a lacklustre 400 yard shoot), 3rd Nick Pye 26 (very creditable as he had no previous experience of the target or the range), 4th Andrew Russell 25, 5th Michael Hunting 24 and carrying all others on his broad shoulders Andrew McBaine 19, the lack of practice at the longer ranges showing.
With the competitions for the weekend now complete everyone assembled for the socially distanced prize giving. We were honoured by the presence of Muriel, William and Henry Mott, along with Nottinghamshire RA Chairman, Douglas Robson.
For the Patched Ball first prize a bottle of Redsmith Nottingham Apple Gin had been procured as an apposite award for a county competition. It deserved more than the two competitors on the day. It was won by Andrew Russell with 2nd place John Whittaker taking home a bottle of tasty wine (at least I hope it was tasty!).
The Minié 1861 competition was won by Bill Parnham, who has made this an annual occurrence for some time now. Bill received the Nottinghamshire RA Volunteer Cup as the undisputed best Enfield shooter in Nottinghamshire. John Whittaker as the top shooter from outside the Association was presented with the magnificent Michael Mott (1861) Trophy. Nick Pye received the ubiquitous bottle of wine for his very respectable third place.
With the prize giving concluded it just remains to say a heartfelt thank you to those who entered and turned up. Muriel, William and Henry Mott made the trip especially for the prize giving, which was very much appreciated by all. Chairman Douglas Robson also came to mark the inauguration of the Michael Mott (1861) Trophy. Martin and Carol Tebbs kindly travelled from Cambridgeshire and brought Muriel to the prize giving. Michael Hunting did sterling work with the flags as did Andy McBaine.
To everyone concerned — THANK YOU !! Let us hope next year proves a better one for all.
Andrew Russell, Hon Sec, Notts RA Black Powder Section.