The final of London Mayors’ Association Small-Bore Rifle Competition, which was held on Saturday 9th September 2017 at Ham & Petersham Rifle Club, was won by the team representing the Borough of Hillingdon. This is the eighth time in the last ten years that the team representing Hillingdon, who are all members of Ruislip Rifle Club, have won this competition.
The competition, which was started in 1906, is open to all London Boroughs and consists of teams of eight shooting three preliminary rounds, shot on the clubs’ home ranges. This year there were entries from nine London Boroughs, and the Boroughs with the five highest aggregate scores from these rounds going through to the final. Hillingdon had the best aggregate over the three rounds. Whilst the preliminary rounds are shot at 25 yards distance on normal paper targets on indoor ranges, the final is shot outdoors at 100 yards and consists of 24, 2 inch clay discs which have to be broken in the shortest possible time. The teams shoot against each other on a round robin basis with the team breaking all their discs first being awarded 2 points, the Borough with the highest number of points after all 10 rounds being declared the winner. In the event that neither team has broken all their discs after 3 minutes, the team that has broken the most is awarded the points.
Team captains play an important role in this competition, adopting strategies that align the abilities of shooters, and ensuring that the team have a plan to make sure that they are not all shooting at the same discs at the same time.
The weather also has a marked effect on each round. Although the same for both teams in a heat, a varying wind strength and direction can make it decidedly harder to hit the target, and this is responsible for some of the variation in the times below.
In their first round Hillingdon beat Barnet, clearing their discs in 50 seconds.
Their next round, against Wandsworth was won in 68 seconds and their third round, against Richmond, won in 64 seconds. Six points out of a possible six in the first three rounds.
At this point the gods were obviously not too impressed with Hillingdon doing so well so they intervened. It started to rain. The rain got heavier. It turned into a monsoon, accompanied by lightning and thunder. After about ten minutes there were rumours of lifeboats being seen on the range and the path behind the firing point could have been part of the course for the Heads of the River Race, which was being held on the nearby river Thames.
After the deluge the shoot resumed and we won our final round, beating Kingston with a time of 45 seconds.
The Mayor of Hillingdon, Councillor Carol Melvin, accompanied by her Consort, husband Andrew, was present throughout the shoot, cheering the team to victory. She was invited by Honorary Alderman Dennis Doe, a Vice President of the London Mayors’ Association and the competition organiser, to present the magnificent trophy to our Captain, Michael Phipps, while she was herself presented with a shield for display at the Civic Centre.
Although Ruislip Rifle Club, shooting as the Hillingdon team, has enjoyed considerable success in recent years in this and other competitions and the shield has had a near-permanent home in the Mayor’s Parlour, there is some doubt whether we will be able to represent the Borough in the future. Formed from the Home Guard in 1944, our clubhouse and range has been on its current site adjacent to Ruislip Golf Course since 1957. We are open 6 days a week and have just over 100 members on the books. However we have now had to close membership and turn people away because the site is due be compulsorily purchased in the near future as it is on the route of HS2. We have been promised reinstatement on nearby site, but at this time time nothing is certain.