Sussex sharp-shooters shine at Bisley

Peter Terry receives the Spooner Trophy from Ian Root
Peter Terry receives the Spooner Trophy from Ian Root

There was plenty to celebrate for Sussex shooters at the prizegiving for the 2014 national small-bore rifle meeting at Bisley.

The meeting consists of a number of individual and team competitions and this year’s conditions were the worst for many years, with strong winds and heavy downpours.

The first major competitions of the meeting make up the weekend aggregate and the honours for all of these competitions rested with a Sussex shooter. East Grinstead’s Andy Meyers won three of the four competitions and came second in the fourth, which earned him first place in the weekend aggregate to win the trophy.

The Queen Alexandra Cup competitions started at the beginning of the year and are fired over the shorter 25-yard distance but with the added interest of time limit and skirmisher cards as well as the normal deliberate cards.

Conditions for the final were particularly difficult with a strong blustery wind making it difficult to hold the rifles steady and having a severe effect on the course of the bullets, however, the team of Rob Dowling, Russell French and Peter Terry, competing for the Mounteney Jephson Memorial Rifle Club of Fittleworth, managed to master the conditions most successfully to win the trophy for the team of three.

Dowling made the highest number of hits in the skirmisher section, 15 in the 60 seconds allowed, and Terry made the highest deliberate score, 192 out of 200. French posted the highest time-limit score for the team.

The championship aggregate suffered the same challenging conditions. Meyers continued in fine form with high-placed finishes in each of the first two events.

Dowling started to find the mark during the second and third competitions; however, team-mates French and Terry were struggling with the conditions.

The second half of the week saw a dramatic turn-around in fortunes with French and Terry climbing the X-class table to finish level on points in mid-table. Their change in fortunes helped Fittleworth land the Spooner Challenge Trophy, assisted by Dowling.

He completed the week with steady shooting to finish 20th in X class and earn a place as reserve in the England team in the home international match.

Competing in her first national meeting, Chichester’s Kirsten Tulloch found conditions at Bisley extremely challenging, particularly early in the week, and despite rallying towards the end of the week, she couldn’t recover sufficiently to earn promotion from B class – however, she did enough to win a place to shoot for Scotland ladies in the home international.

Towards the end of the week, the inter-county matches were shot, with Fittleworth providing half of the Sussex team of six in Dowling, French and Terry.

As winners of the 50m match in 2013, Sussex fielded a strong team with six X-class competitors in the team and hopes were high the trophy could be retained.

But in blustery conditions they could finish second behind winners Hampshire, with Dowling posting the highest Sussex score, a creditable 587/600.

The same team shot for Sussex in the county sextette match, shot at 50 metres and 100 yards, and finished fifth with Essex winning the trophy.