Report by Russ, from a secret location in Devon.
We came, we saw, we conquered (Again). April 7th saw yet another successful invasion of the Isle of Man for members of the Spent Cases Shooting Club. Having vacated the Island in 1997, the club returned and by the use of several types of handgun (banned in UK, may they RIP) and a range of rifles, the members quickly gained the upper hand to secure victory. A small pocket of resistance from a token force from Salford was soon overcome and beaten into submission very early on in the campaign, ensuring that the club secured its first victory in its own right and the members fourth overall.
The Student Festival of Sport, now in its 17th year is usually reserved for current university students, however due to our infamy and successes of three trips as Plymouth University, the organisers invited us to defend our titles. The club had a mere four weeks to plan the trip, which to the most part was pulled off relatively smoothly. Eight members of the club were able to attend under extreme short notice. By luck (or was it brilliant planning by Tony), all eight members managed to meet up at a service station somewhere on the M6 and then proceed in convoy to Heysham. (At this point I would like to thank everyone who drove. Well done for getting the rest of us there).
Despite heavy rain, all eight members braved the weather to trek to the pub where Pete was able to buy the first of many rounds of beer. The ferry crossing was it's usual lively affair, with a few more beers consumed and a lot of catching up with who had been doing what. (Keith's lack of hair was certainly a bit of a shock).
The Hotel was at first glance OK, but then first impressions can be deceiving. A few members went out that evening to meet up with the Isle of Man pistol club members for a few social drinks and to plan the first days shooting, eventually finishing about 3:30am. And so endeth the first day.
The Friday gave everyone a chance to practice the pistol events. You cannot conceive how much it is possible to miss a sport until you try it again some four years after it had been banned. To say we walked out of the range with silly grins would be an understatement.
Stopping on the way back for some much needed liquid refreshment; the club picked up its newest member 'Russ'. As you may have already seen from this website, Russ, a garden gnome, is the new club mascot and tour tradition. Well simple things I suppose. Unfortunately, having overstayed our welcome at the local liquid refreshment tent, we missed that night's evening meal. In retaliation, the hotel's Landlady decided she wasn't going to cook for us for the rest of the weekend. Kebabs, pizzas and burgers all round then.
That night, we attended the welcoming party, which of course meant more alcohol. This weekend was not a trip for the weak hearted (or livered). With the welcoming finishing at 11:30pm, we decided to carry on at a local night club to dance the night away. Well, at least one member did something all night anyway. (Tour rules dictate that I cannot divulge who, but those of us there know who. Don't we????).
Saturday morning came early. Particularly if you didn't go to bed until the wee hours. The new pistol range on the island is situated on a mountainside, on a part called windy corner. (You would never guess why). Great way to clear a hangover though. The first event was the Police Pistol competition. Despite having not shot for several years, the scoring wasn't that bad. The winning score being 263 by Tony, with many other shooters scoring in the 250's. Second up was Service pistol. This time hats off to Tim. Scoring well above the rest, Tim managed a 77, the next closest scoring only 59. Well OK, they weren't commonwealth standard scores, but at least we managed to shoot two pistol disciplines not available in the UK. A presentation of winner's plates was then made to Tony, who regained his title from 1995, and Tim (who had matching smug smiles, especially Tim who had just won his first IoM plate).
Next up was a long journey on a small island to the rifle range and the 50m prone rifle event. Sounds easy enough until you realise that all equipment including rifles were borrowed and set up on the day. No real surprises in the places here, though again the standard of shooting was particularly high considering. Congratulations to Simon for winning his first IoM shoot and managing that smug smile that was becoming common amongst the winners.
Saturday evening was the Festivals main social event. Even more beer, flaming Drambuies and Vodka snorting for the now hardened group of drinkers. Nose bleeds and reports of deafness scared off the challenges by Hull University (all 127 of them) and Loughborough's Ladies Rugby team. This time some of the Island's Festival organisers joined our small group. (I suppose because we are just so sociable compared to everyone else). This unfortunately meant that at least two members carried on drinking with them until 5:00am, even going so far as waking the up another member of the club just because he had beer in his room. Disgusting behaviour.
Sunday morning was the last event for this bunch of intrepid shooters. UIT centre fire. This time the old (indoor) range was used. A good start saw Tony take an early lead closely followed by Simon. However, the last detail saw both Pete and Micky shooting close to Tony's score, with Micky slightly ahead based on the first two cards. The last card deciding the outcome, with Micky (236) finishing first, extending his undefeated run for a third time, and Pete (227) narrowly beating Tony (226) by one point to claim second place. On a more positive note, this was the first time that the original Team 'A' claimed the top three places, finally getting their act together in the last shoot. A presentation was then made for the winner of the last plate. This time it was Micky with the smug grin.
An afternoon in the pub for a post match debriefing session was then carried out, with the club mascot of course. The ferry trip back was certainly more subdued than normal. (Perhaps age finally caught up with their recipients).
The respective long rides back then ensued, with many of the tour having to get back in time for work. Thanks once again to all the drivers, Keith, Dan, Simon and Lee (Punch) and thanks to everyone who went, making it an enjoyable weekend away. (Think we'll fly next year lads. Liver and kidney transplants can be paid for in advance).
A full list of available scores should follow this report and some of the permissible photos. On behalf of the club I'd like to thank Tony for organising everything and everyone, especially in the tight timescale and for making me drink only 1 can of Stones. Also, we'd like to thank the organisers of the Festival, in particular Stuart Earl and Stewart Watterson for the shooting. Here's to them and those like them, there's damn few of them left.
We would like to thank our sponsors this year, not only for helping with the T-shirts but for having the best company logo I've seen in a long time. Thanks to Premier Concrete Pumping Group.