Hill End Rifle club .303 Anzac shoot 2015
The 19th April saw the staging of the 10th Hill End Rifle Club ANZAC shoot. This year’s shoot was particularly poignant as it was the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings. The small mining town of Hill End was not immune to the tragedies of the great war. Brothers Lawrence and Hilton Weir were both killed on the same day in August 1915 during one to the two main offensives at Gallipoli. Another Hill End boy, Allan Natrass was killed two years later in France. Like so many small towns across the British Empire, the first world war emptied streets, and butchered a generation.
The Hill End Rifle Club is probably unique in Australia, in that it has a Turkish member; and so while our thoughts were with the Australians who died, it was also worth reflecting upon the hundreds of thousands of professional and conscript Turkish Soldiers who died; literally fighting for their lives. While we Australians had answered the call of the empire, with jollity and good cheer, the Turkish Army was fighting hand to hand on its own soil, within a days travel of their capital.
Gallipoli has a meaning in Australia; it is widely seen as the coming of age of our nation. It showed the senselessness of war; and of fighting a war against an enemy with which we had no truck. For the Turks, Gallipoli was just one other battle and another victory. They were fighting in the deserts or Irag, Jordan, the caucasus and in Turkey.
Andrew Baker arrived with 10 litres of heavy duty Ant poison. We needed this as the whole of the target butts were infested with some rather angry meat ants. We needed to spray up the butts to save the unfortunate markers from having to tape their trouser legs to their boots and be continually fending off angry ants. As a result of the spray, we were able to enjoy a very high level of marking.
It rained hard on saturday evening, but it cleared up on Sunday and held for the entire day. We all felt quite lucky. Conditions for the shoot were rather good , temperature cool , light overcast and most important of all, minimal wind.
Sixteen members lay down on the firing point. We call it the “mound” at Hill End. All of us were shooting Australian mark 7 .303 ammunition. Only one of us declined to use this fiery stuff. (it makes you have to clean the cordite out of your barrel).
The club was given the ammunition by the Ministry years ago in an attempt to promote sport shooting and general accuracy. We have all used the same ammunition for this in this format for four years. This takes out any advantage that can be had by using fancy hand loads. Stocks are running low, and there may come a time when we need to buy a batch of PPU or similar to maintain consistency. On this occasion the MKVII ball behaved itself brilliants and everyone was happy.
Due to an administration error we were unable to shoot the signature 15 round matches and had to go back to a 10 shot match. The stages were as usual, 300 yards and 700 yards. We firmly believe that the 15 round match really tests the marksman’s ability, as the last 5 rounds take so much more concentration.
700 yards is also the optimum range for the 303. The bullet spins up to the correct level of rotation and is super accurate. Sadly our scores were down somewhat on previous shoots; but we were undeterred. After all this does happen from time to time.
Our rules only allow standard foresights. Eleven members used 303 target rifles with adjustable rear target sights. Five members shot “as issued” 303 rifles.
Andrew Baker won the day with his target class 303. He shot well to win his first Anzac cup; just edging out Mark Green by 3 points. He was closely followed by (me) Brett Anthes who was 2 points behind that in 3rd place.
In the as issued rifle class Graham Murgatroyd won, as he has done for some years. He shot very consistently to win with a score of 71. Closely behind him, his main rival and winner of our LERA Shoot was Ian Kates. (who was only 2 points behind Mr M). The “as issued class” is allowed a 4 point handicap.
Special mention should be made of our new shooters J Fennel , M Woodward and P & K Desch who all shot respectably- especially considering that they are just starting.
B Kimm shooting off the shoulder shot the best of the juniors with a good 61.2 making his dad Dave extremely proud.
At the day’s end we had the presentation of the prizes and congratulations to all.
As is the tradition at the Hill End Rifle Club, we lowered the Australian Flag to Half mast and read:
The Ode. This is one verse from the famous poem “For The Fallen” by Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943), first published in The Times newspaper (london) on the 21st September 1914. The verse became the Returned Services League Ode in 1921.
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”
Here is the poem in its entirety:
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.
DEC 2014 JAN 2015 TRANSCONTINENTAL Anzac 303 shoot
(Global Mid Range 303 comp.)
OVERALL WINNER I. KATES
|R. MORGAN – NO 4||29.1||24.1||53.1|
|F. JAH SMLE||21.1||25||46.1|
|G. MURGATROYD – NO 4||32.1||37.1||69.3|
|I. KATES – NO 4||31.1||44.3||75.4|
|J. FENNELL – SMLE||13||21||34|
|P. WATT- NO 4||14||16||30|
Graham and Ian shooting on the mound at the Hill End RIfle Club
It’s a mosquito that wakes me at first light, followed by the familiar THUD THUD THUD of kangaroos retreating. It’s a cool morning as I roll from the swag and get busy breathing life into the campfire to make coffee. A handful of leaf litter and fallen bark soon has the fire blazing; Jeff emerges from his tent and finds his plunger, always a good coffee when Jeff is around. Soon Ian and Peter appear and we share a coffee under the trees. It’s the morning of the Transcontinental Shoot, Ian and I have both been shooting for many years and look forward to competing against each other again. Peter and Jeff are new to the sport and look forward to having a shot. We all look forward to putting our scores on the board for the first Transcontinental Shoot.
After a breakfast of Eggs Benedict the table is cleared and I scrub out my rifles for the day. I’ll be using the No4 Savage and Jeff is having a lend of my SMLE. Before too long we hear the call and wander down to the club hut to pay range fees and sign the day book.
The range at Hill End, NSW
The 300 yard mound is infested with ants, the red aggressive kind, we lay our mats out on the stony ground and markers are dispatched to the butts. Before leaving the vehicle to shoot the stage I glance at the thermometer 23℃, it’ll be a warm one for sure. Quietly I spare a thought for our northern hemisphere opponents who shot in sub zero at Bisley a few short weeks ago.
Ian Kates shoots his stage on target 1 and at the end of the first stage the scores are close. We are shooting at 7.62 for this stage and the numbers look like this, I Kates – 31.1, G Murgatroyd 32.2. Jeff and Peter score 13 and 14 respectively the ants are having a field day with us and it’s getting steadily hotter. At the change of markers we decide to shoot through and not break for lunch today, taking advantage of the fantastic conditions and attempting to avoid the heat of the late afternoon.
By the time we reach the 500 yard mound after waiting for the other club members to shoot through (they are shooting 308 today) its 37℃. Behind the targets each shot that does not land exactly in the matting behind the bull’s eye raises a plume of yellow dust from the butt stop. There are no clouds in the sky, a nagging and inconstant breath of wind teases us but only serves to blow the muzzle blast back into our eyes.
Dust and heat! Those not shooting shelter in the meagre shade, on the mound it must be well over 40℃. My stage starts as Ian is mid way through his, as I get set up for my sighter’s I hear the scorer calling his shots, “V-BULL….V-BULL….V-BULL” he’s having a blinder with his Longbranch.
I cut my sighter’s, a four and a three, and start well, 4…V…4 then a 2 I can’t understand. An ant has found its way onto my spotting scope and I blow it off to get a look at the target, out to the left, the errant breeze has caught me. Linseed oil is leaching from the timber of my No4 making it slippery, on either side of the action the wood has separated as it expands; there is now a 2-3mm gap on either side.
My elbows are burning from the radiated heat on the stony ground, the backs of my legs baking through my jeans…V-bull…sweat drips from my hat band in to eyes. That last centre was more arse than class but I’ll take it. As my last round is marked and I wait the result I spare a thought for the Rats of Tobruk!
Graham on the mound at 300 yards
Too soon it’s over and the ranges closed for the day, we clean our rifles and rehydrate in the shade. Ian has taken it with a very impressive hit at 500 yards. Scores are written up on a chalk board and I drive up the hill to email the results to Raf.
At prize giving there is much talk about the next Transcontinental shoot, April 18th and 19th, there will be many more shooting in this event. Shooters of all backgrounds from all walks of life excited at the prospect of competing globally. Finding out how they rank with a .303 against the world, hoping that many others will take up the challenge, the Canadians, British the Americans, someone heard they were not too bad at shooting. It’s time to find out!
Pictures and article by Graham M 10/02/2015
There is still frost on the ground when we arrive at Bisley. We are here to shoot in Australia. We cannot be in Australia for the weekend, we have neither the time nor the money to fly around the world to fire 24 rounds at large back circles deep in the Australian bush. But what we can do, is turn up as the range opens, buy 40 rounds of PPU ammunition and lie down in the subzero temperatures to try replicate the conditions of New South Wales and shoot. The idea is old fashioned, it used to be called “postal shoots”. We still post our results, no longer by post, but by email and with photos. The Australians take our scores and write them on the board at the weekend with all the other shooters.
There has to be a degree of co-operation and of course trust. We have to write down our scores accurately and honestly and the Australians have to agree to use the same rifles. This had originally been a 7.62 shoot, but our rifles are all much more advanced and somewhat tactical compared to the Omark’s used by the Hill End Rifle Club. So we agree on the venerable .303 British as the calibre of choice. Our contact in Australia is Graham M. He relays the rules by phone:
Two sighters at 300 yards, then 10 rounds with no more than 45 seconds to fire after the exposure of the target. Then exactly the same routine at 500 yards. The matter is complicated further by the fact that my SMLE is shooting a foot to the left at 300 yards. Richard – my oppo for the day turns up with a punch and hammer. Which is designed for the no4 sight and is totally useless. Being a good man with his hands, after a few futile taps and useless shots, Richard turns the punch on it’s side and smacks the foresight a hefty distance. It looks ok, so I try again. The windage (there is no wind) is spot on. Two sighters and we are good to go.
The Anzac competition is very easy. It consists of 10-15 rounds fired at each distance. Each round is either magazine fed or individually loaded. The sights have to be iron, and the rifle has to be a Lee Enfield. We are not sure of the format as the instructions were a bit vague, so we opt for the most difficult, the individual load.
Richard offers me two fists, I choose the one without the cartridge and he goes first. He chooses to adjust his sights after his sighters and keep clicking them up or down depending upon where his shots land. In general – he is spot on, with – a dive a few fours and a V bull. Occasionally he gets a one. His total is a respectable 29/50.
My shooting is nowhere near as good. I get a smattering of twos and threes and a five. I am on the black most of the time, but not brilliantly. I have trouble shooting prone, I’m not very good at it, and the recoil is killing me. This has nothing (of course) to do with the fact that I fired 350 rounds on Saturday at the Orion shooting range in Wales. I have been told that I push with my shoulder too much and this means that I try not to. This leads to horrid recoil and two of my shots go off target, out of 8 shots on target I get a rather bad 24/50.
After the 300 yard match I kneel and fire a 5 round group with the SMLE. The group is tight, and it occurs to me, that I would have been better off doing the competition kneeling,
The air is very still- but the temperature is still below freezing. It is now 1100hrs and the frost is as white as it was at dawn. We move to the 500 yard firing point, and continue. Our marker Paul, is quite brilliant and Jovial. He has a thermos of coffee and a Stephen fry book and withstands our long transit time easily. At 500 yards, I do slightly better and score 25.1/50 with a V-bull. The smle performs well at this distance and is easy to use. Mine has an unissued barrel and shoots well. Perhaps I am just more relaxed. I let the rifle find my shoulder and squeeze off the shots.
Richard has not shot out this far in a while, and drops a zero into his scores, but recovers well with a nerve wracking 24.
We note the scores down on paper, take a photo and email the photo off to Australia immediately.
After the match we swopped rifles and had a friendly 5 round match at 500 yards. Interestingly the scores were 16/25 and 15/25.