Portsmouth Royal Dockyard Scorpion Football Club

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Memories of the Dockyard Rifle Club by John Hall

The Dockyard Rifle Club was affliliated to the National Small Bore Rifle Association and we used .22 single shot target rifles. Club night was once a week in the tunnels under the Block Mills, where we had a club room and a 25-yard rifle range, other than when we went out to other clubs in the Portsmouth area for competition. When I started in 1951 all the members of the club were Dockyard men. I seem to remember that I was awarded the Marksman badge in 1953 for, at last, scoring a Ton or 100, i.e. one shot in the Bull of each target. The targets cards we fired at had ten small competition targets for one shot per target. There were also a few sighting targets, as the back sights on our rifles were adjustable both vertically and horizontally, but there was a limit to the number of sighting shots we could fire. A firing jacket simply had a leather patch on the right shoulder to stop the rifle butt from slipping and a hook sewn on the left sleeve to stop the rifle sling, which was wound round the arm, from slipping. The main aim was to form a firm triangle with the body and both elbows to give the rifle a secure firing support.

Some of us also belonged to the South Hants Rifle Club and used to practice on the rifle range at Tipnor on Sunday mornings. I used a borrowed .303 Lee Enfield Rifle and ammunition from the armoury at Tipnor. The highlight of a year was when we went to Bisley for the National Championships which only the best could enter which didn't include me. I went for the experience and the opportunity to fire on a longer range than the 100 yards I was use to at Tipnor.

They were innocent days in the 1950's as I used to cycle through Portsmouth with my rifle in a bag on my back and a packet of live ammunition in my pocket. During our 3rd year at College our evening class coincided with the Rifle Club night so I took my rifle into college. Not something that would be allowed or even sensible today. The first night I did this the lecturer, who I think was Mr Crowder, was most interested and wanted to have a look at my rifle, but I had to ask him not to wave it around the classroom. The rule about 'where not to point a firearm' had been well drilled into me by that time. It was because of the clash with College evening classes that I left the Rifle Club. Some of the senior members of the club all thought I should concentrate on college but it did mean I had to sell my rifle to one of the new members as I couldn't hold a Fire Arm certificate without belonging to a Club. A policeman came to the house one evening to collect the certificate and the sale document on which I had to state who had bought my rifle.

The experience and practice came in handy when I did my National Service and as I was permitted to wear a Marksman badge on my uniform sleeve. I think, during our basic training, I was one of the very few that could put all the shots from a full magazine into the same target even though the Lee Enfield rifles we used were fairly ancient and were only the basic issue. I was a fairly good shot with a Bren Gun a well, at least I didn't miss the target.

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Firing Jacket
Sleeve Badges

Dockyard Rifle Club
NSRA Marksman

South Hants Rifle Club