Chichester target shooters have just returned from the National Smallbore Championships at Bisley with an impressive record of team successes.
The Queen Alexandra Cup was the first success but the hard work began last winter.
It is shot at 25 yards and selection for the Sussex team of six is fierce. Following selection in March, the team had to shoot a preliminary stage to become one of the eight county teams competing in the final.
Four Chichester marksmen - Rob Dowling, Russell French, Roger Scholes and Peter Terry - made the Sussex team and with Linda Smallbone (Eastbourne) and Tony Wells (Cuckfield), they qualified for the final.
Each competitor must fire two deliberate cards at 25 yards, each card comprising ten shots in ten minutes, followed by two time-limit cards, each comprising ten shots in 90 seconds, and, finally, a skirmisher card where as many hits as possible must be scored on small targets in 60 seconds.
An added complication was the wind, particularly tricky in both strength and direction.
Sussex were consistent and despite being slightly down on last year’s winning score, the team were comfortable winners to take one of the most impressive trophies on offer in British sport.
Chichester completed the double by winning the club teams of three in the same format by winning the Lord Cheylesmore Challenge Cup.
The next team competition was the county 50m competition for the Bob Davis Challenge Salver. The team are selected during the meeting with the top six Sussex shooters at 50m making up the Sussex team.
Once again there were four Chichester members in the team with Sara Carr joining team-mates Dowling, French, Terry, Smallbone (Eastbourne) and Malcolm Brain (East Grinstead). The course of fire is an English match - 60 shots fired at 50m.
Once again the team shot consistently with just six points separating the highest and lowest score in the Sussex team giving a final score of 2,300 out of 2,400 - 33 points ahead of a strong Hampshire team who finished second.
In the women’s 50m competition, Carr and Smallbone were joined by Sara Marshall (Eastbourne) and finished as runners-up to Bedfordshire.
Hopes were high that Sussex could complete a clean sweep in the four major team competitions and the opportunity for the third success came in the county sextet competition for the Sir Elliot Lees Shield.
The competition is shot over a Dewar course of fire - 20 shots at 50m and 20 at 100 yards for teams of six and there was just one change for the Sussex team with Andy Meyers (East Grinstead) replacing Smallbone.
The teams started at 100 yards, where Sussex struggled with only Brain mastering the variable winds. However, Dowling, French and Terry put up much better scores at 50m and salvaged seventh place for the county with Devon taking the trophy.
The final Ccounty team event was another that had started earlier in the season. The Astor county championship is shot by one club per county.
Chichester won the right to represent Sussex at the county championship meeting at East Grinstead in June and, despite strong opposition, the team were feeling confident of being challengers for the trophy.
The team was Carr, Dowling, French, Scholes, Terry and Graeme Smith, with Andy Meyers wind coaching.
After the 50m shoot, the team had scored 1,162 out of 1,200 with Carr scoring an impressive 198 from 200. Another good team shoot at 100 yards left the team with a total score of 2,288 out of 2,400.
There were only eight points separating the highest and lowest score in the team but Cheshire and North Wales, represented by Appleton, won with a score of 2,304, leaving Chichester in second place.
Nonetheless, it was an extremely successful week in the national team competitions as Chichester continue to build on a very sound base.
If you think you have what it takes to be a marksman, pop along to the range on a Wednesday between 7.30pm and 9pm.