This was the Hopton in the year of Covid 19. It wasn’t possible to shoot at the traditional time because of government restrictions, but the NRA were keen to hold an abbreviated meeting if possible and thanks to the efforts of Alex Cargill Thompson, MR representative, and Peter Cottrell, NRA Head of Shooting, this was held before and during the August Bank Holiday. There was a smaller entry than usual of 75 actually taking part, and a number of prominent Scots were absent including, for the first time for 60 years, no Campbell-Smiths.
A full Hopton was shot, but no Lex Lyons and no Elcho Match.
Social engagement and dining opportunities were limited, not least because the North London Rifle Club ran out of beer, but thanks to Silke we did not lack for entertainment and nutrition.
Wednesday 26th August
The tail end of Storm Francis saw decreasing but tricky winds throughout the day for the Any Rifle Extras. 20 took part in the full aggregate. Mike Barlow had a good shoot at 1,000 yards, lying second, with Guy Hunter at 11th the next Scot. Scots got into their stride at 1100 with Mike Buchanan first, Angus McLeod second and Mike Barlow equal 5th. At slightly difficult 1200 yards Jon Sweet was first from Mike Buchanan in second and Mike Barlow 6th and Iain Thomson 7th.
Mike Barlow’s performance at 1000 yards was good enough to give him the Aggregate with 213.13 over Mike Buchanan at 212.16 and Angus McLeod at third with 211.18
Thursday 27th August
The day dawned bright sunny and calm for the first detail of the Whitehead at any rate, but the sun did not last. Conditions became overcast and still, with increasing rain which made the Halford especially the 1200 somewhat painful, or at least soggy, although darkness and rain apart, conditions were straightforward. Luckily, the weather waited until after the last shot before it became absolutely torrential.
Jon Sweet came 5th in the Whitehead with Angus McLeod at 8th and Mike Barlow at 15th. The same pair came 8th and 9th in the Halford, with an excellent shoot by Guy Hunter as top tyro with a brace of 73s. Zoe Woodroffe came 15th with a 75 and a 71.
At the end of the first day the amount of blue in the upper echelons of the Hopton were limited to Mike Barlow at 6th, Angus McLeod at 7th, Zoe Woodroffe at 14th and Jon Sweet, despite his Whitehead performance at 15th.
Friday 28th August
More overnight rain had cleared away in time for the first detail of the Cottesloe. Benign conditions and a gently left-hand wind brought ten scores of a 100, although with equal possibilities for the unwary to be lulled into a sense of complacence only to miss that vital, though small, wind change.
The Wimbledon started with a respectable left-hand wind, which then tailed off throughout the competition and eventually fishtailed and went right-handed, once again catching out the unwary with the scramble to keep up, let alone anticipate.
Heavy rain was forecast for the afternoon and the Armourers, which started dry. The first detail did get heavily rained on, but the second escaped. Winds were light and scores were correspondingly high, but not excessively so, thanks to the distance and odd changes in strength and direction, so that no possible were shot. The highest placed Scot was Angus McLeod at 7th, followed by Jon Sweet at 13th and Mark Crichton Maitland at 14th.
Saturday 29th August
The day dawned overcast, with strong northerly wind and extraordinarily cold for August. First detail of the Edge started in 11C but with added windchill. For the unwary, what looked like a 5 plus minute wind with the tails of the flags kicking up was actually only a couple of minutes on the gun, plenty of changes of angle and strength to trap the complacent and/or unobservant. Jon Sweet had a cracking shoot with a 98 and a 96 to come 2nd, Angus McLeod came 5th and Zoe Woodroffe 13th.
Shot concurrently with the Edge is the 5 Nations Match. Scotland’s team of Jon Sweet, Angus McLeod, Zoe Woodroffe and Mike Barlow won with 765.71 to Wales, England and Ireland. Normandy was not represented.
In the Any Rifle 1200 in the afternoon, Mike Buchanan was the top Scot in 5th place scoring 94.5 with his 7mm, followed by Mark Crichton Maitland with 92.6 at 8th, having shot as fast as the target could be marked 922 shots in 4 and a half minutes), aiming off and without any paperwork, and Ron Scaglione with 89.4 at 14th.
Sunday 30th August
The day of the Albert promised to be dry and it was, but the warmth did not appear until prizegiving at the end of shooting. The same cold northerly wind but with a bit less of a bite than the day before but the same headwind component that messed up elevations and relatively low wind settings. The same opportunities arose for error, added to having no sighters.
Jon Sweet managed third with 220.26 and Ron Scaglione in his first (and last) competition in the Hopton came 5th with 220.24. The next Scot was Angus McLeod at 14th.
The Hopton itself went to Nick Tremlett with an exceptional 1009.138. Jon Sweet was top Scot at third with 1000.125 and Angus McLeod 4th at 1000.124. There was then a long gap until Zoe Woodroffe at 23rd, Mike Buchanan at 28th and Mark Crichton Maitland at 30th. A disappointing lack of blue at the top of the leader board, Jon and Angus excepted.
Monday 31st August
The morning of the FW Jones dawned still and moderately bright, a novelty to us all. There was some debate as to whether the wind was as much as half a minute right.
Scotland’s team was Jon Sweet, Mark Crichton Maitland, Guy Hunter and Ron Scaglione as shooters, Iain Thomson and Tim Kidner as Target Coaches and Colin Hayes as Main Coach.
1100 yards was unexceptional, but at 1200 yards the mirage appeared, a novelty for the Hopton meeting, played havoc with all teams and gave the coaches anxious moments.
In the end Scotland came third to the Hopton Supper Club and the English Lightweights but with only three points between the these and seven points between the first and last teams, it was nothing to be ashamed about. Zoe Woodroffe and Silke Lohmann took part in the International Ladies Team, who were placed fifth.
In the Humphry, Fergus Flanagan, shooting for Cambridge set a new record score of 224 ex 225, for which he is to be congratulated.