Match Rifle Imperial Meeting 2021
Thursday 12th July
18 Scots descended on Bisley for the Lex Lyons match against an Irish team (supplemented by a couple of O’English). After time for practice at 1000 yards in the morning – for those who were on camp or awake early enough – the match kicked off at 1100 yards, something which caused one member of the club a little difficulty with selecting the right elevation. Teething problems out of the way, the shooting warmed up nicely, with coaches Hugh Butcher, Ron Scaglione and Fergus Flanagan keeping bullets flying in the right direction. At 1200 yards an ants’ nest on the firing point caused some consternation – cue heated debate over whether they were red or black, and what the implications of this for the shooter might be – but eventually the team settled down, to produce an average score, after the Captains had done their maths (or magic), of 145.15. This was enough to deliver a Scottish win, three points ahead of Ireland’s 142 – the same margin as last time the match was shot. Angus McLeod was the top scorer, with 149.21 across the two distances, having been coached by Fergus at 1100 and Ron at 1200. Further time for practice in the afternoon was followed by a fine dinner in the LMRA, where Scots and Irish came together to toast Lex’s memory.
Any Rifle Extras
Friday 13th July
Buoyed by success in the Lex Lyons, the Scottish dove into the Any Rifle Extras, the first individual competitions of the week, with rapid success. Ron Scaglione, Guy Hunter, Hannah Fisher and Keith Baxby all put in possibles at 1000 yards – in Ron’s case carrying the field with 14 Vs. Ron carried on the success at 1100, where he was the only 75 on the range, while 1200 saw a Scottish top three, of Mike Buchanan (73.9), Ron (72.7) and Hannah (72.6). Ron topped the overall aggregate, with Hannah in second place. Keith Baxby and Tim Kidner came fourth and fifth, raising hopes of a strong Scottish showing as the Hopton loomed closer.
Whitehead and Halford
Saturday 14th July
Very gentle winds saw high scores in the first competitions of the Hopton, with a remarkable 32 possibles in the Whitehead’s 2&15 at 1000 yards, including from Hugh Butcher, Guy Blakeney, Ron Scaglione, Angus McLeod, Jim McAllister, Zoe Woodroffe and MR newbie Claire Halleran, who scored 75.14. Further high scores carried on at 1100 yards, and once scores from both distances were added up Hugh Butcher’s 150.21 only saw him come sixth, while Guy Blakeney and Ron Scaglione also went clean for eighth and ninth place.
The Halford in the afternoon saw a return to 1100 and then a move to 1200 for further 2&15s. Guy Blakeney put in 148.21 for fifth place as the highest Scot, while Angus McLeod and Tim Kidner filled out ninth and tenth place on 148.15 and 147.21. Allan Campbell Smith, shooting his 60th Hopton, put in a 147.9 for 14th place. At the end of the day Guy Blakeney sat third in the Saturday aggregate, with the only 298, behind England’s Julian Peck and Rob Lygoe, who led the pack with 299.54 out of a possible 300.60. Angus McLeod and Tim Kidner were the only other Scots in the top ten, at seventh and ninth place respectively – but with scores so close together there was still all to play for.
Cottesloe, Wimbledon and Armourers
Sunday 15th July
Sunday meant upgrading to 2&20s, amid slightly stronger but still gentle winds. Ron Scaglione, Jon Sweet and Guy Blakeney were all clean in the 1000 yard Cottesloe, for second and joint fourth place respectively, with Ron’s 100.17 only one V behind Nick Tremlett’s winning 100.18. Tim Kidner, Fergus Flanagan and Neil Fyfe all put in 99s for top twenty positions.
The 1100 yard Wimbledon proved a little more challenging, but Ron’s 99.16 saw him third while Guy and Jon were in sixth and seventh with 99.11 and 99.9. 98s saw Angus McLeod and Fergus at 14th and 18th, while Mike Barlow led the 97s in 20th place.
Despite Englishmen Rob Lygoe and Alex Cargill Thompson putting in very impressive 100.16s each to take themselves to a tie shoot for top place, Scots shot well at 1200 in the Armourers, taking five of the top ten places, with Angus at third, Jim McAllister at fourth, Hannah Fisher joint fifth and Zoe Woodroffe ninth. Claire Halleran’s 96.8 saw her joint 13th – just safe of breaking her T. At the end of the day Angus sat just outside the top three of the Hopton, with 591.72 – a few Vs behind second and third placed Nick Tremlett and Alex Cargill Thompson, with Guy Blakeney and Ron Scaglione also in the top ten. On 598.98, though, Rob Lygoe’s position in the lead was beginning to look harder to catch.
In the evening, the NRC of S convened for its AGM and barbecue. Torrential rain failed to dampen proceedings, with Elcho Lodge’s verandah offering shelter to all while the barbecue was operated under a steaming gazebo. The business of the AGM was conducted in a record breaking twelve minutes, ably presided over by Treasurer and Vice-Captain Zoe Woodroffe, who had the unenviable task of shepherding all Scots in Mark Crichton Maitland’s absence, and Secretary Jo Campbell-Smith. A small party then moved up the road to Cottesloe Lodge to see how our southern neighbours were getting on in the football final against Italy: that this influx of Scottish viewers coincided with Italy’s first goal was surely unfortunate coincidence.
Edge, Five Nations and FW Jones
Monday 16th July
Once again winds were light and scores high for 2&20s at 1100 and 1200 yards in the Edge. Nine people scored 100 at 1100 yards, though no Scots were among them. Tim Kidner was the highest placed Scot after 1200, with his 195.20 putting him joint thirteenth. Angus McLeod put in a strong showing with 100.12 at 1200 yards, one of four shooters to go clean, for a 20th place finish of 194.25, sandwiched between Mike Buchanan on one side and Jon Sweet and Guy Blakeney on the other, with 195.17, 194.27, and 194.23 respectively.
In the afternoon, black clouds and looming rain coming in from the north east encouraged fast shooting in the FW Jones. The NRC of S team, of Claire Halleran, Tim Kidner, Iain Thomson and Mike Buchanan, coached by Ron and Fergus, came one place behind the Hopton Supper Club. In most years that would mean they were second, but this year the International MR Ladies, including Zoe Woodroffe and Hannah Fisher, won the day with 571.51, including a 148.19 from Hannah as their top score. Guy Hunter shot for the Etonian Shooting Club, while Claire, coached by Ron, top scored across the whole match.
Tuesday 17th July
The final day of the Hopton saw fishtailing winds, slightly stronger than we’d been accustomed to all week. With no sighters these should have been a challenge, but Jon Sweet showed how it was done at 1000 yards, his 75.12 behind only Rob Lygoe’s 75.14 and ahead of 14 other competitors with 75s – among them Mike Buchanan with 75.6. At 1100, Jon kept up the strong showing with a 75.10, joined by Will Meldrum with a 75.8 and Ron Scaglione with 75.12 as well as five others who went clean. At 1200, though, the field really started to separate: Will Meldrum and Angus McLeod were the only 75s on the range, with 75.7 and 75.2 respectively. Jon’s 73.6 saw him finish on 223.28, in second place to Alex Cargill Thompson’s 223.33. Will and Angus came fifth and sixth, with 222.24 and 222.19, while Ron was eighth with 221.29 and Zoe Woodroffe tenth with 221.23. With five Scots in the top ten, it was a strong finish for Scotland and boded well for the Elcho the next day.
The end of the Albert was also the end of the Hopton. Rob Lygoe’s dominance throughout the week saw him finishing first, with a record breaking 1017.160 – eight points ahead of the previous record of 1009. Alex Cargill Thompson and Nick Tremlett also broke that record (which Nick had set), with 1014 and 1012 respectively. Angus McLeod was the top Scot, in fourth place on 1007.116, while Jon Sweet and Ron Scaglione were sixth and seventh with 1003.122 and 1002.129. Guy Blakeney came thirteenth, Mike Barlow sixteenth and Tim Kidner seventeenth to complete the Scottish presence in the top 20, while Zoe Woodroffe at 22 and Hannah Fisher at 25 were the second and third highest ladies. Angus also won the 1200 yards aggregate, in which Thomas Nightingale was the top tyro, while Ron came third in the 1100 yards aggregate. Further Scottish success came in the inaugural Hopton knockout with its cash prize, won by Alex Hunter, while in the MR Pairs Guy Blakeney was one half of the second-placed team, and Tartan Mayhem (Hugh Butcher and Jim McAllister) came third.
Wednesday 18th July
Elcho day dawned, with the warmest temperatures of the week so far and a welcome promise of sun for the spectators, and Scots gathered at Elcho lodge for breakfast ahead of the match. Hugh Butcher as head coach was joined by Fergus Flanagan and Mike Buchanan as target coaches, while Mike Barlow, new cap Claire Halleran, Hannah Fisher, Angus McLeod, Will Meldrum, Ron Scaglione, Jon Sweet and Zoe Woodroffe shot, with Tim Kidner as adjutant, Iain Thomson as a plotter and Jim McAllister and Neil Fyfe as reserves.
Tricky and changing winds saw Scotland take some long pauses amid the shooting – made possibly by the leisurely pace of the day – with head coach Hugh often emerging from his chair to stare at the clouds in an effort to determine what the wind might be doing next. Coached by Mike, Ron put in 75.13 at 1000 yards, one of six possibles at that distance. England opened up an early lead, with 596 to Scotland’s 587, while Ireland followed with 584 and Wales with 575.
At 1100, Scots shot well and were the only team to improve on their 1000 yards’ score, with another possible from Ron helping take the team to 588. England’s lead continued to grow, though, with their 590 enough to keep ahead, while Ireland and Wales fell a little further behind with 583 and 562. The uncertainties of 1200 still awaited, however, as the team returned to Elcho Lodge for lunch, once again kindly prepared by Rosemary Meldrum and Silke Lohmann.
By the time shooting resumed at 1200 yards the wind had got trickier still, fishtailing with some strength, and scores suffered accordingly, with Scotland dropping to 555.45, to finish on 1730.186. This kept us ahead of Ireland, who had 1717.149, and Wales on 1664.126, but was not enough to triumph over the English team who put in 561.43 – behind on Vs but crucially still ahead on points – to finish seventeen points clear on 1747.208. Ron Scaglione was the highest scorer across the whole match, with 222.34 – a point clear of anyone else. Congratulations to him and his coach Mike Buchanan.
Colin McEachran served as umpire, and the Earl of Wemyss and March was in attendance to present the trophies. The last order of business was the Scottish dinner at the Surrey to round off the day.
Humphry and Any Rifle
Thursday 19th July
The final morning of match rifle for this Imperial saw Fergus Flanagan’s Cambridge team up against Oxford, who had Mike Buchanan as one of their coaches. A close match saw Cambridge win by three points to regain the Humphry after Oxford’s win (also coached by Mike) in 2020, with Fergus the top scorer on 216.20.
In the afternoon, the Any Rifle 1200 yards saw a reprise of the Scottish dominance which had opened the meeting. Mike Buchanan, shooting with a .300” WSM, came first with 99.10, with Ron Scaglione and his .284” KMR snapping at his heels with 98.8 – the lost points the result of a strange unexplained magpie between a bull and a V. Jim McAllister came fourth, and Tyro Guy Hunter fifth with a .284” Winchester, while Pete Seebohm was seventh to complete the Scottish showing.
With that, the match rifle Imperial came to an end. Thanks as ever to Rosemary Meldrum, for allowing Elcho Lodge to be the spiritual and physical centre of Scottish life in Bisley, and especially to Zoe Woodroffe, who stepped up to serve as Captain for the summer and did an admirable job herding the unherdable. ’Til next year!
Full Match Rifle Results on NRA web pages