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Bowyers v Gunmakers Challenge 28 June 2012

It all started with a conversation between the Master Bowyer Howard Mundy and the Master Gunmaker Clive Richards, during which the idea was formed of a challenge match between the two companies, with each company's teams shooting both shotguns and longbows. This seemed an idea worth trying, and so a plan was made to meet at the West London Shooting School (near RAF Northolt) on Thursday afternoon 28 June 2012.

It turned out to be a beautiful sunny day, ideal for outdoor sport. Each company brought eight shooters, including four specifically drawn from Court members, and shooting was arranged in fours, a pair from each company, rotating through four shooting stands, two gun and two bow. One shooting stand had flying clays, the other had them propelled along the ground like rabbits; one archery stand had a 4-foot straw at 40 yards, the other had four 'field archery' targets in the shape of full-size plastic foam animals.

Proceedings were led from the front by Gunmaker Renter Warden Simon Grant-Rennick and Master Bowyer Howard Mundy. Everyone enjoyed the new experiences of unfamiliar weapons, the expert coaching provided on both sides, and the genial atmosphere all round. Gunmakers whose previous experience of bow and arrow had generally been as children admired the beauty of the big hand-crafted yew longbows, and were deeply impressed by Mark Stretton's enormous war bow with its 140lb draw weight, which brought home to everyone what a formidable weapon of war the longbow once was.

The afternoon finished with a round of 'clay flush', in which teams of two shoot as many as they can of 30 clays flying overhead, and then some fun with the 'archery trap' machine which sends pizza-size discs bobbling along the ground for archers to try to hit. As a final party-piece, the Master Bowyer had a go at shooting his own 70lb war bow that had been made for him by Richard Head, with a proper metal-tipped bodkin war arrow supplied by Mark Stretton, with which he achieved a very respectable distance of over 100 yards.

And so finally to a convivial barbecue meal and the announcement of results. The two shotgun stands were scored as the number of hits from 24 shots, and the two archery stands were scored on the standard archery basis of 10 for a bull and progressively lower scores further from the bull. To make the two sets of scores more directly comparable, the shotgun scores were multiplied by 4, and the results were as follows:

The Gunmakers Shotgun Score x4 Archery Score
Simon Grant-Rennick 88 55
Robert Pitcher 84 66
Derek Stimpson 76 70
John Browning 72 32
Patrick Turner 92 68
Carl Langton 84 38
Graham Hill 64 40
Richard Sharman 36 38
Total Team Score 586 407
The Bowyers
Howard Mundy 64 54
Andy Barnsdale 40 44
Duncan Samuel 72 35
Christopher Ballenden 68 23
Richard Head 64 112
Mark Stretton 68 94
Alan Rogers 28 59
Mick Manns 32 24
Total Team Score 432 445

The Clay Flush Team competition was won by the Gunmakers, 87 to 64, and it was of course generally expected that each company would prevail at its own discipline. Huge archery scores were put up by Richard Head and Mark Stretton for the Bowyers, and impressively high shotgun scores by Patrick Turner, Simon Grant Rennick, Robert Pitcher and Carl Langton for the Gunmakers.

Looking at both disciplines together, however, it was apparent that the Gunmakers' superiority with the gun on the day had been greater than that of the Bowyers with the bow, and that therefore the Gunmakers deserved the overall laurels.

It was particularly remarkable that the 3rd, 4th and 5th highest archery scores were put up by Gunmakers Derek Stimpson, Patrick Turner and Robert Pitcher, and also that Bowyer Richard Head put up a very respectable shotgun score having never touched a gun before. We all sagely agreed that some of the same natural aptitudes must be involved.

The spirit of the day had been excellent, both teams had enjoyed themselves and learned a lot, and there was much warm talk of staying in contact and doing it again some time. Grateful thanks were expressed to all who had helped organise the event, including the WLSS team there on the day and especially to Richard Head and his team who had brought in all the archery targets and equipment and provided expert supervision and instruction.

Tony Kench

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