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May 2011
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rifle club Rifle club still firing on all cylinders
By Mike Senior

Thanks to Nick Humphreys I have been able to see what should be regarded as one of the treasures of the village – The Lee District Rifle Challenge Cup. This cup was presented in 1902 by H.C. Blackmore, H. Fraser, C. Gordon Wilson and S.K. Holman and the first winner was Walter Nickalls. Well-known Lee names appear on the cup several times – Edward Lacey, Frank Clark, E.J.C. Young, Arthur Picton, Henry Dwight, Robert Channer, Arthur Chambers and L. Keen. Frank Brown won the cup seven times in the period 1910-29. In the present century J. Brown has won the cup twice and P. Farrow three times. The only lady’s name to appear is that of Mrs P. Cheeld.

In 1913 Lloyd Brown was the secretary of the club and in the December Lee Magazine he wrote regretting that the membership of the club had not increased: “The reason is, doubtless, that lads comparing the respective merits and demerits of Rifle-Firing and Cricket arrive at a conclusion uncomplimentary to the value of the former as a recreation and a sport. This conclusion is, I believe, quite an erroneous one, as although admittedly Cricket is the better for the exercise and training of the muscles (and I believe some cricketers do possess these useful adjuncts), yet firing practice is in advance in educating the brain, in training and developing the keenness of the eye and the steadiness of the hand. There is but little wrong with the system of a man who can compile a score of 99 out of a possible 100 at a range of 75 or 100 yards with the sun in his face or against the ill effects of a powerful cross wind; there is no blind hitting at a target with a bull’s eye of the same surface dimensions as the nimble threepenny piece. And this education of brain, eye and hand marks firing out as the recreation for the man who is out for sport, at which time he improves his knowledge of weapons of offence and defence.”

It would be interesting to know whether The Lee cricketers agree with Lloyd Brown that rifle-firing is “in advance” of cricket in educating the brain. The Club is now known as the Ballinger Shooting Society.

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