On the 9th September 2018 we were privileged to be be part of the Big Picnic event, setting up at the 200 yard firing position, for ‘target practice’. We had four rifles (deactivated and obsolete calibre) on hand, representing the evolution of the small arms used by the Volunteers and Territorial Force/Army from 1860 up to the start of the Second World War. These included an 1861 short Enfield, a Snider, a Martini Henry and an S.M.L.E. (Short, Magazine Lee Enfield).
Steve and I got the target into place, a field telephone was brought out of storage and a red musketry flag hoisted. Field telephones were used by the shooters to communicate with the markers in the gallery, though we haven’t yet located the cable connecting the firing positions to the markers’ gallery! When the red flag is raised at the firing position, it signals to all shooters to ‘cease firing’.
We had a good number of visitors throughout the afternoon, coming to see the site and have a go at (mock) target practice. A surprising number had been in the Cadets, the Army or in rifle clubs, and it was really good to hear their stories of shooting on a rifle range. Lots of the kids got to have a hands-on go with the S.M.L.E., many of whom commented on how heavy the rifle felt and how far away the target was. Steve Handerer, the range warden from the 1980’s also dropped in and gave the work his seal of approval, which is very good news.
Thanks to everyone who came and made the day a really enjoyable event.