Six o’clock on a Friday evening, with a roaring log fire and the promise of prizes, the annual Christmas Shoot was under way.
It was a crisp, cold December evening outside; while a warm competitive atmosphere prevailed inside. On this traditional occasion, it is always a challenge to balance the shooting with the eating. There are three types of butcher’s sausages to be wedged into chunks of buttered French loaves, before being drizzled with the relish of your choice. Naturally, it is polite to sample at least one of each flavour, with or without crisps, peanuts and a knob of mature cheese.
Then, as an extra challenge, Auntie Mary offers everyone a slice of her coffee cake, or chocolate cake or cheesecake, whichever delicious flavour you cannot resist first.
Meanwhile, Hon secretary, John Adams is busy organising a stream of details, so that innocent people can be bamboozled once again by Hon Treasure, Alan Shipman, who delights in dreaming up challenging ten-bull formats, for unsuspecting shooters to try to grapple with.
Of course, we must not forget our ever hopeful scorer, Clive Garnham, who usually starts in an optimistic mood, trying to keep pace with the steady stream of shot targets and fit in his own shooting. Nevertheless, Clive bravely struggles onward, hoping for a gap in the scoring long enough to grab a sausage before they are all gone. Towards the end he is usually surrounded by a wall of fingers and toes being offered to assist his counting, or subtraction, or multiplication, and sometimes division, or whatever mathematical gymnastics are required to make sense of Alan's fiendish competitions.
The occasion of the Christmas Shoot has been used for many years to celebrate the achievements of the Club and its members in the year, and Ruislip Rifle Club were privileged this year to have the Mayor and Mayoress of Hillingdon attend this special club event to present trophies won during the year as well as the Christmas Shoot prizes. John and Diane Hensley, the Mayor and Mayoress, are both rifle club members. John decided not to ruin his reputation further by taking part in the shooting, although Diane did and thoroughly enjoyed herself. Especially when partnered with Jane Brown in the disc breaking pairs competition, which they won. It was a very exciting finish, and there was no bias from any of the cheerleaders standing at the back of the range.
When the shooting had finished, the Mayor presented the prizes. Not just for the winners that evening, but a variety of different cups and medals won throughout the year, in both long and short-range competitions.
After that, we had a special surprise for our guests. The club chairman, David Lloyd, presented the Mayor with a cheque from Ruislip Rifle Club for £450.00. This sum had been collected during December from donations by members, to assist the Mayor’s four nominated charities. I am pleased to report that he was not expecting any cheque, but it was gratefully received.
All who attended the evening enjoyed this Christmas shoot. With the additional help of our friendly professional photographer, Tristain Luscombe, a permanent record is now available for club members of almost every enjoyable moment. The evening was both a happy and sad occasion, in our dear old clubhouse, which has served us well since it opened in 1969.
Mike Phipps. Photos courtesy of Tristan Luscombe