Friday, 6 May 2022

Last term during a visit to New Beacon’s range to provide some expert coaching & tuition for the Boys Tonbridge School’s Shooting Officer Tim Blackwell kindly invited 16 New Beacon Year 8 boys to attend their MOD Rifle Range (on the school site) to shoot, experience a different venue and try some equipment that New Beacon do not possess.

All 16 of the Year 8 boys selected for the trip to Tonbridge turned up on time, enthusiastic and curious to find out what shooting at Public School would look like.  After a short trip down the road in the minibus we arrived at Tonbridge School’s best kept secret; the location of the school’s rifle range.  The boys registered their attendance at the range followed by a short safety briefing by Mr Blackwell and the plan in store for the boys.

The Tonbridge School range has twice the capacity of New Beacon’s Range meaning that 4 boys can shoot together at the same time. Each boy would get to shoot two ‘5 Bull’ targets whilst receiving tuition and if time permitted then a bonus shoot at the end was dangled as a possibility.

The aim of the day’s exercise was to reinforce the core principles of safe & accurate target shooting; hoping we would see an identifiable improvement in the Boys scores between the first & second attempts.

The first new experience the boys started with was the concept of shooting some preliminary spotting rounds with the ‘Tonbridge’ rifles provided. The boys were asked to produce the best groupes they could with 5 rounds and with the help of Mr Blackwell spotting for them through a scope they were able to adjust the sights on their rifle to zero them in to their liking before they commenced their card. This would put some considerable pressure on the boys as it would eliminate a lot of the excuses I normally hear!  During the first session all the boys were helped with their shooting; receiving tips and being reminded on how to best achieve consistent results.

We ran 4 details with all 16 boys having their targets scored and recorded before moving to their second attempt. Once again they were allowed to fire 5 sighting shots before starting on their targets.

During the session we were visited by Tonbridge School’s Captain of Shooting Leo Black, a New Beacon Old Boy who was also a keen & regular NBSRC shot. Leo has recently been selected to shoot for the England Team in two forthcoming matches so it was nice for the boys to meet him and be quietly in awe of a recent 100 score in the school’s knock out shooting matches.  Having shot their second round Mr Blackwell & I were happy to see good improvements from over half the boys with any slight regression seen stemming from technical mistakes made. The boys have never shot two cards before back to back plus sighting rounds and therefore lapses in concentration were foreseeable.

Having efficiently shot through the 8 details we still had enough time for the bonus round. Mr Blackwell revealed that the boys could have a go at the snap shooting targets which the boys immediately agreed to. The snap shooting challenge involves having a target appear for 5 seconds and then disappear. Whilst not exactly a rapid fire competition, which we do at NBSRC it does involve ensuring you are ready to shoot before the target reappears as all 4 targets appear and disappear together, supposedly whether you are ready or not. The boys were given 5 shots and whilst this was for fun and therefore not scored the boys did well, 5 seconds is a long time with virtually everyone having shot within the first 3 seconds!

At the end of the snap shooting session we all got together outside the range for a group photograph where the boys met Christopher Morgan – Tonbridge’s Director of Sport & Head of PE who also kindly stepped in as camera man for our group photo.

Two medals were awarded by Mr Blackwell in recognition of their achievement.

Highest Score of the day 95 (twice) – William S

Most improved score of the day (91 up 8 pts) – Thomas H

NBSRC Y8 Members who attended:

1. De Sisto F
2. Millns A
3. Dodson J
4. Charlton T
5. Murphy P
6. Vermeulen B
7. Herregods T
8. Smith W
9. Munoz I
10. Hamilton S
11. McKenzie C
12. Gobbler Z
13. Clever H
14. Hague L
15. Stone T
16. Peters O
All the boys very much enjoyed the day and the experience. We offer our thanks and appreciation to Tonbridge School for inviting us along to share their wonderful facility.
All the 61 boys shooting this term will be starting their Preparatory School Rifle Association (PSRA) Proficiency Tests shortly. This is a test that the boys will need to complete over the next 3 weeks with an opportunity to earn themselves a PSRA badge & certificate in 4 categories (Mastershot, Marksman, 1st Class & 2nd Class) depending on their achievement. They will need to shoot 3 targets and their overall score out of 300 will determine the class. All the boys are aware that all 3 cards must be shot within the 3 week limit.