A personal history of the club by Malcolm Buswell

Due to failing health Malcolm resigned as our President in 2012.  Several months later in 2013 he sadly succumbed to his illness.  He has the distinction of, to date, being the longest serving member spanning a term of almost 65 years, having joined in 1947.

In 1955 Malcolm was elected Treasurer, a job that he looked after until just a few years ago before resigning.  As Treasurer Malcolm guided the club financially, to the present site in 1969, where the indoor range was completed in 1972. Later developments, 100 yard range then the 50 metre range and the extension to the indoor range were all carefully overseen by Malcolm as treasurer.

As President he was always at the club to meet and greet visitors attending various shoots  He also took pride in representing the Club at outside functions.

The club was an important part of his life and we have all benefited from his efforts in building the facility that we enjoy today.

Malcolm wrote a personal history of the club from his recollections and experiences.  This is shown below.


Havant Rifle & Pistol Club

Established 1943

  A Personal History


Malcolm Buswell


This  is dedicated to the 400 – 500 persons who have become, for their time, members of Havant Rifle and Pistol Club. Although told through my involvement within the club, most credit is due to the many who have demonstrated their skills at planning, administration and construction of the buildings and who have also given of their support to shooting sports by regular commitment to teams and matches – “enjoyment being their reward”.



 At the Beginning

.22 shooting practice was encouraged during World War 2 and when, in 1943, a shooting section of the Havant & Horndean Home Guard decided to ask for a night, then two nights, to be set aside so that their Drill Hall range could be used solely for its own members shooting practice plans, the groundwork for the formation of Havant Rifle Club was put in place.

The first General Meeting was held in this range at the Connaught Drill Hall, Park Road South, Havant on 31st October 1944. This hall was later pulled down and built over it was a shop, to be let to Perrings Furnishers, which later became McDonalds fast food outlet, and a corner of the site is now the location of the Havant Tourist Information Office and entrance to a multi-Storey car park.

At this first meeting it was agreed that the Havant Home Guard Rifle Club become affiliated to the Society of Miniature Rifle Clubs. Elected as officers were:

President          Sir Dymoke White

Vice President  Mr J McIlroy

No treasurer was appointed.

It was announced that the first match would be against Southern Railway Rifle Club on 13th November 1944. Members present included W. Graham, H.B.Seward and W.J.Seward, who all continued to shoot in club teams for many years.

In 1947 there were hundreds of tons of coal stored in the Bedhampton chalk pit where Habitat/Wessex Bowl and Homebase now are. Amongst the coal owned by the Bedhampton Coal Co. there was just room for a 100 yard .303 range. My own introduction started when, as a small boy, then just aged 13, I was somehow invited into this chalk pit one Sunday morning to have a go.

Alongside were members of the RNVR and Havant Home Guard. My instructor was Lt Cdr Bryan Bulpitt RNVR, a friend of my father and who soon after became Chairman of the re-named Havant Rifle Club, before eventually emigrating to New Zealand.

.303 shooting did not last for very long, but I continued shooting, by starting on .22 in Havant Drill Hall, and by joining the shooting squad in the cadet corps at school, eventually getting into the school VIII and captaining them in the Sussex County School competitions and the Ashburton Shield at Bisley.

Still able to shoot at Havant in the school holidays, I was able to appear in the club photograph taken in 1949 that is now on the present club’s wall. However, late in 1947 a letter had arrived from Havant Borough Council reducing the two allocated nights to one – so that Hayling Home Guard could have their own shooting night. This was to prove insufficient for both practice and match nights in view of the increasing numbers of members of the Havant section.

One day in December of that same year, three wise men sat together on a Bench in West Street, Havant. In discussion the subject of the winding down of the Home Guard was broached. One said to another, “You own some land across the road, don’t you?” O u t of this conversation between Bryan Bulpitt J.P., MBE, J. Rankin McIlroy J.P. and Sir Dymoke White, Bart, J.P. whilst sitting on the Havant Bench together dealing with the felons of Havant, came the decision to move site.

Sir Dymoke White held the trump card.

The club’s third AGM had passed a resolution that anyone scoring a 9 in a league match should be fined one penny and two pence for an 8 – for the benefit of club funds.

Thus proving funds were available, the three JPs conspired together to get the Brockhampton Land Company, majority owned by Sir Dymoke, to offer the club for rent some land it owned at the southern end of the British Legion in Brockhampton Lane, Havant. So, with fines building up funds, the club decided in 1948 to affiliate to the Hampshire Smallbore Rifle Association, and planned to move into the Legion grounds, at a rent of £10 per year for 21 years.

The move did not go according to plan. With all permissions granted came a letter, from the government Ministry of Supply, refusing an allocation of timber to start work. Perhaps all available timber was needed for some new housing being built, at a place called Leigh Park, nearby.

Club chairman Bryan Bulpitt, armed with the support of letters from Sir Dymoke White, Mr Mcllroy and W.J. Seward, club secretary, went to see the Regional Licensing Officer in London, as a result of which, it transpired, Buck Taylor was allowed to go to Leigh Park in search of wood.

The new indoor 25 yard range was built in 1951, with the club room being heated with an American Coke stove in the centre – which proved just too hot at times.

Meanwhile, at the AGM in September 1951 the members voted to double the subscription from 5 shillings to 10 shillings per year, payable quarterly and the club held an inaugural buffet consisting of sandwiches, sausage rolls, coffee, tea, trifles, fancy cakes and ice cream. Amongst all this is a note that in the same year the rifle team had won the Duttson Cup, a local cup knockout for teams of four.

The next few years saw shooting improve both in quality and in quantity of people joining the club, including a section from RAF Thorney Island, who came as their own team, but were asked to join Havant as individual members. The club was thus able to attract several to shoulder-to-shoulder shooting and thus select them as members of Havant teams.

Some employees of the John Wyeth Industrial League team also joined Havant at the same time.

In 1954 there was a demand to extend shooting into the pistol discipline, and accordingly a night was allocated for .22 pistol shooting, the first shots being fired by Sir Dymoke White.

The subscription was raised to twelve shillings and sixpence, and the treasurer resigned. It was thus left to the secretary to collect the subscription. One such subscription was missing, and, when tracked down, Ian Hammond was found to be in Italy, competing for Great Britain at pistol in the Games commemorating the centenary of the Unification of Italian States. Ian was the club’s first international shot, and, of course, in those days had to pay his own way to Italy to compete.

By this time, I was serving out my two years National Service in Cyprus, and competed in the Middle East rifle and Bren gun championships. On my return to the club, Bryan Bulpitt found out that I was to start an accountancy career, and so, in 1955, he believed I had become a fit person to be nominated by him to become Treasurer, which I accepted, except for the few times when assistance was needed while I was working, away. I struggled to raise the subscription each year – and for the next 43 years, it seems.

Gradually, the club became more well known, competing in local, county and national .22 rifle and pistol leagues, without, apparently winning very much. Until 1958 – when the rifle team competing at Whale Island won the 25 yd indoor sharpshooter events, and at Chilcomb down the County event.

The next year, the successes were repeated, so the club entered the National Knockout on the final day of the annual Bisley National Meeting and won the Cheylesmore Cup for disc breaking at 100 yards. News of this was spotted by Southern Television and the interview was transmitted live from the Southampton studios.

The frames holding the discs consisted of two pieces of chipboard (paper target size) placed back to back, 6 inches apart, with damp newspaper packed between them – very effective as no bullets appeared to reach the rear piece of board.

Snaps 1

In a match at the former Wickham range, Bill Graham shot a first sighter, saw it was a bull, and then knocked his telescope off the stage. Undaunted he fired his complete match card, the result being a ‘possible’ 100.

At Gamble Road, visiting teams would stand in a circle like penguins, moving round in turn to put their backsides next to the only source of warmth, a heater fixed to the clubroom wall.

Charles Ashton scored up one match, and then turned to his team saying he could not remember scoring any of his detail’s cards. All 16 cards were shot upside down, and not one firer had noticed.

Teams entered in the disc breaking competitions were regularly called Havant-a-Clue, Havant-a-Hope and Havant-a-Chance. Once, an additional team was called Havant-a-Club.

On one return from Bisley, the team stopped outside the Red Lion, Chalton for a beer and to finish their picnic lunches. Hard-boiled eggs were banged against the table all together but none of them had been cooked!

The 1960’s

After the excitement of the summer, October saw the start of return to normality with the 1959/60 season opening league matches, with the decade showing sonic successes. In 1962, Havant Rifle team won the Edmund Shield and repeated this in 1977 and each year from 1979 to1984.

In 1964, Gordon Coldman arranged, on a handshake, with Mr D. Hoare of Adsdean Farm Supplies, the use of a small chalk pit at Funtington to be used by Havant Rifle Club for up to 100 yard rifle shooting outdoors.

This gave Havant the chance to compete in the Summer National League for the first time. Very little work was needed – just a concrete platform from which to shoot. Some pistol shooting was also possible from a standing position alongside each end of the platform.

The resulting increase in the quantity of shooting continued into increasing the quality of results, and in 1966 Havant, at last, managed to win the Portsmouth & District Indoor Rifle League team championship for the first time, the start of a run that saw the club win 15 times in the next 18 years. The trophy for this, the Peters Cup, records winners for each year as far back as 1910.

The Move to Southleigh

By 1969 the club had become well established and was becoming well recognised for its successes locally and nationally for its rifle and pistol achievements. The summer time outdoor shooting captured the interest of established shooters from other local and West Sussex clubs, whose members Joined Havant as individual members, but who were encouraged to return to their own clubs for winter competition, thus maintaining the quantity of winter league teams.

From 1949 all went well for 20 years. Mr Bulpitt had succeeded Sir Dymoke White as President who maintained his contact With the club. However the death of Sir Dymoke occurred in 1969, with just two years of the Brockhampton lease remaining.

A part of the story of my involvement with Havant Rifle Club has so far not been told. My father had shared A.R.P. (Air Raid Precautions) duties with Bryan Bulpitt and Rankin Mcllroy during World War 2, and all three shared similar retail business connections. Throughout my childhood we were as a family friendly with Mr Arthur Jones and his two daughters through our membership of Emsworth sailing Club. The connection here is that Mr Jones was land agent to Sir Dymoke White’s estates. Through this link the continuing activity of Havant Rifle Club always reached Sir Dymoke’s ears.

The club became aware of pressure on its continuance in Havant, as it became apparent that the Brockhampton Land Company had become bequeathed to Sir Dymoke White’s daughter, who had married an admiral, and the farming land later forming Southleigh Estates was left to his son, Mr Lynton S. White, who farmed at East Meon. The admiral was not as interested in the club and decided to sell all the land in the Brockhampton area for industrial development, and thus the club was told that its lease would not be renewed on its expiry in 1972.

Arthur Jones was asked if he could seek ideas from Lynton White as to what might happen to the club. The exciting response was to ask the committee if they would like the opportunity to check out these three possible sites:

1                    a corner within Southleigh Farm

2                    in the field opposite BUPA’s entrance

3                    behind the cottages in Southleigh Forest.

With an almost full attendance of the club committee each site was visited and, hopefully, the right decision was made – for 21 years at £1 per annum.  Roy Weaver was left with two years to plan and build an indoor range, with the complication of us moving out of Havant Borough and into East Hampshire. This was to be the first of what became the 5 stages of development at Southleigh Forest.

At work, in Portsmouth Dockyard, Roy had by chance sitting next to him the son of one of Petersfield’s planning officers. Thus plans for an indoor range were drawn up without too many visits to Petersfield, and once these had obtained the required planning and building regulation consent modifications could be made. Thus the club range has only single skinned walls – an uninsulated building that kept the cost down.

There were also some rumours – a fully fledged caravan holiday park next to us, a BUPA hospital opposite, a re-siting of Portsmouth Grammar School to the west of BUPA and a retail site alongside the railway bridge. Sir Dymoke White’s house was sold to Plessey, but only BUPA came to fruition and a garden centre by the railway bridge.

The Southleigh Forest indoor 5 firing point range was built during the summer on 1972 and was ready for the start of the indoor season, with the lease being signed on November 7th 1972.

Three teams were to compete in the Portsmouth Rifle League and various pistol teams in postal competitions initially, with space to shoot becoming a premium very soon. In one year – (1970/71) – Havant had 5 rifle teams in the shoulder-to- shoulder league with one team having to alternate weekly on a Thursday pistol night.

Snaps 2

A Morris Minor, hood down, was seen one evening along the top of Portsdown Hill, then going down to Whale Island, with 4 people up, the large Woolgar Shield showing high above the rear seat, two rifles held up either side, there being insufficient room in the car boot for more than the jacket and ‘scope cases.

Barry Wood (Southbourne), Roy Weaver (Emsworth), Malcolm Buswell (Havant), Barry Hall (West Street) and H.B.Seward (Bedhampton) would sometimes meet up on the same No. 31 bus to matches, each carrying his own rifle and equipment case.

Some of the ranges in the area which have closed – Grammar School, Southern Railway, Royal Insurance, H.M.S. Vernon, Elm Road, Gamble Road, Old Cosham Post Office, H.M.S. Nelson, Portsmouth Gas, G.E.C., Hilsea T.A.Centre, Moneyfields and Dockyard.

Shooting a league match at H.M.S. Vernon, Havant scored 799 out of

800 – with best six to count out of eight shooting – who was unlucky enough to be counted out with a score of 100?

Additions at Southleigh

The second stage was started when, by 1976, it was becoming certain that Adsdean was not of sufficient capacity for the needs of outdoor shooting. Mr Jones had, by now, retired and Mr. Lynton White’s own land agent, Mr Geoffrey Ayres, took over at Southleigh Estates. Somehow Sid Pitt got to know Mr. Ayres and suggested that when the moment was right we might wangle a further piece of land out of, the now, Sir Lynton White. I was left with the job of writing to Mr. Ayres to ask if we might tread through the land beyond our indoor range for about 120 yards. It seemed Sid Pitt had got his word in first, so he was left with the job of organising the clearing of the scrubland, then single- handed levelling it with a garden rake, incorporating a widened fence line to ensure the required 7˚ shooting angles on the 100 yard site.

In 1978 Mr. Ayres wrote to the club to ask if we had sufficient land as Sir Lynton White wished to document the 100 yard range into our lease. The committee dared to ask if whether or not the fence line from the entrance gate to the North East corner of the butts could be straightened. It ran from the gate parallel to the indoor range as far as the 100 yard firing point and then turned outward by 7˚.

The response was a misrepresentation of the request, and offered the club a 7˚ angle from the entrance gate, thus widening the side of the whole site for its full length. This the club gratefully accepted, together with Southleigh Estates offer to build a post and wire fence along this new line and also behind the butts at right angles to the road. A revised lease was signed on February 20th 1978 to incorporate the additional land.

The butts were widened to the new line with the addition of earth supplied by Dave Pike from the new solid spoil tip adjacent to the range. A post and timber cover was built over the concrete base forming, the 100 yard firing point.

June 27th 1978 saw the official opening of the outdoor range, with an invitation team event being held for rifle and pistol on 16th/17th September. Repeated every autumn since, this shoot has become known as the “Final Fling”.

Stage 3 was planned following growing demand for range time by the pistol and air weapons sections. It was agreed that now the car park was wider there was room to add a side extension to the indoor range, of three firing points of 25 yards, and to enlarge the club room. In honour of Roy Weaver’ s work on the main indoor building and on the outdoor site this was to be named “The Weaver Range” just prior to his moving to Scotland.

Before building work was started the treasurer had obtained and completed Sports Grant application forms, carefully stating the alms and achievements of the club to a standard formula. This resulted in the Hampshire Playing Fields Association issuing a non-repayable grant of £5,391 as a proportion of the completed cost of “The Weaver Range”. This was received in 1982.

Earlier in 1982 Mr Ayres had asked if the club had a firm of solicitors acting for it. Dick Knight, who was employed at Lloyds Bank in Southsea, was able to introduce me to Mr. Ward of Large and Gibson who acted as the bank’s local solicitor.

It followed that from Birchams, one of the largest firms of London solicitors, we received not a lease extension document but a draft Deed of Intent of Gift of the whole three acres that the site plan showed and an intent to scrap the 1972 lease with its 1978 addition.

This gift reflected the patronage the Dymoke White family had shown to the club since 1943, and was part of Sir Lynton White’s plans to divest himself of his interests in Southleigh Estates Ltd. -particularly so after the building of the BUPA hospital and sale of the tip to George Ewen Ltd. This tip was then operated by the Onyx Group and eventually passed on to Veolia.

After much red ink and four attempts at drafting with myself, a final Deed of Gift was prepared in London, signed, and a Land Registry Charge Certificate issued showing the outline of our land. Much behind the scenes work had also completed, hopefully successfully, but since the signing on the 14th October 1982, no problems have arisen that have not been overcome. Had the club not continued to function, the site could have reverted to the donor, with compensation for work earned out on the site to be agreed in arbitration by an independent, qualified valuer.

In October 2001, Mr Ward, by now in retirement, remembers being involved and recalls the Deed was not that straightforward to agree to!

Stage 4 was planned to increase the comforts of shooting outdoors and was carried out over the winter of 1987/88. Planning permission was obtained to demolish the timber firing point and construct the fully enclosed 12 position breeze block and garage doored area that exists now.

This was intended to improve firing conditions and range safety and enclose shooters away from the car park distractions. The range was fitted with equipment benches and recently electricity was fed in with the intention of permitting air weapon shooting along the length of the covered area.

The treasurer had again submitted an application for a grant for construction of the building and £3,500 was eventually received.

By 1990 the need for a separate firing point for 25yd/50m shooting had been assessed. The extra land to the right of the 100 yard range had not been brought into full use, separation from the main area being an earth bank the full length of the range.

Two modifications to the 100 yard range were needed:

The butt sleepers were taken down and additional soil brought in to increase the height and extend the butts to the full width of the land. To replace the sleepers a timber overhead baffle was constructed halfway down the 100 yard range reaching across the right hand range area as well. This was to assist the prevention of stray shots going over the main butts, and extended use of the open spare land was now made possible.

Plans were drawn up for Stage 5 by Eric Bryant with an architect’s help, for a 10 firing point covered area on the 50 metre range, to be built in 1991/92. The first stage was a wall from the butts back to the new point to separate the ground from the 100 yard range. The building was to be of l,350 sq.ft. with the front left open and a large assembly area at the rear. Mrs Jackie Davies came up trumps with a bricklayer whilst club members built the roof and concreted the floor.

From this time onward, increasing range construction standards expressed by the Technical Arms Service (Army, Warminster) caused much discussion in committee prior to implementation.

In 1998/99 various initiatives on range safety standards were carried out, including cutting a path at half height across the butts to hinder soil slippage and to produce the minimum height angle of 34˚. This included the placement of 3,000 bags of sand against the top half of the bank, which had contained much gravel that might cause ricochets. More sand was added to the lower half for the same reason.

At the same time, the whole 100 yard range ground area was topped with gravel free soil and grass seeded and, in an attempt to make the car park a drier place in the winter, crushed old concrete was spread. Throughout the club has been most grateful for the lorries and loads of infill kindly provided from the tip site owners alongside the range.

Unfortunately, and to the detriment of shooting sports generally in this country, tragic events at Hungerford in 1994 then at Dunblane, resulted in a complete ban on pistol and revolver shooting in .22 calibre and above, which caused a reduction in shooting members at this and other clubs.

Havant, meanwhile, were able to continue discussions with the NSRA and NRA to resolve queries relating to carbine licensing so that there would be no restriction on the use of under lever gallery rifles in pistol calibres over .22 up to .45 on the 50 metre range.

The club also proceeded with the reroofing of the original roofs of the two indoor ranges, completing this work in the summer of 2000.

With most of the building work on the Southleigh Forest site now completed, attention was turned to endeavouring to replace the lost .22 pistol activities and the club is grateful to the initiatives taken by:

John Wilson, the club’s former pistol captain, to introduce archery to the club. Claude Close, who formed a lightweight sporting rifle section, now expanded into a Portsmouth area shoulder to shoulder league, and to David Cole, who guided the club into black powder single shot pistol and revolver disciplines.

At the 2001 Annual General Meeting the chairman, Mick Upton, made members aware of the need to bring the indoor ranges up to the level of recent M.O.D. standards. These would include lengthening the range to incorporate updated bullet catching arrangements, increasing the assembly area behind firers, a smooth floor to be laid and lead dust extraction systems.

Snaps 3

During the 1960’s, Worplesdon Rifle Club invited Havant often to fill one of the remaining firing points at the last 16 finals of the National Knockout .22 rifle shoot. Havant finished 17th by a long way each time, but the atmosphere of competing alongside most of the Great Britain international shots was very instructive,

At Adsdean, shooting was regularly interrupted if a horse and rider passed by on the footpath alongside the range. Boats passing behind the butts at Tlpner similarly were also stopping shooting during Portsmouth & District outdoor meetings.

Membership numbers of 65 were recorded at the time of the move to Southleigh Forest. By 1978 this had reached 91 and at April 1984 was stated to be 127.

The range has been hired for various competitions including Portsmouth v Banbury, Fareham v Royan, Hampshire Police events, Navy team practice, Worthing PSK events, inter town matches Portsmouth v Worthing and Brighton and a ladies team match Portsmouth v Worthing/ Gosport/ Southampton. The shooting events of the Hants & I.O.W. Games were shot at Southleigh in the years the games were hosted by Havant Borough and there were pistol events against Springfield.

In 1977, The Havant Club had the only facility in Hampshire and West Sussex where both indoor and outdoor target shooting was available on the same site. Also in 1977, David Cole won the British Junior Pistol air weapons championship at Bisley and between 1975 and 1979 had shot for the British Junior team in the World Pistol championships and also competed in Yugoslavia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and France.

In 1979, Malcolm Buswell won the Havant & Portsmouth Winter League Division 1 rifle individual championship, but found there was no trophy for this. The Portsmouth Association had always believed the league overall champion would be competing in Division 1. This did not happen in 1978/79 when the overall winner competed in division two at HMS Nelson – his name was Malcolm Cooper!

In 1981, Havant finished second to Birmingham in the Summer British National 50m/ 100yd outdoor league in which 380 teams had competed in 40 divisions. This represented the highest ever level reached by a Havant team in a national league.

In this revision of the club booklet it  becomes possible to record the activity up to a period in which Eric Bryant asked for help that would be needed to maintain and improve a site of this size. A proposal to commit members to 10 hours of work as a condition of membership was defeated at an AGM.

To try to overcome the demise of the .22 pistol section, John Wilson formed an archery section and Claude Close a lightweight sporting rifle section. The latter has expanded rapidly and a local shoulder to shoulder league formed. The club also began 50m black powder competition.

Meanwhile, working parties succeeded in replacing the remaining sections of the indoor ranges roof. The target rifle team again won the Hants and IOW Games and also the Arthur Lee cup twice in succession. Subscriptions were increased at the June 2000 AGM.  Archery equipment was by now fully available, but John Wilson pointed out that all that is needed for the discipline to continue is archers!

During the year leading up to the 2002 AGM the club and its solicitor prepared the way for the transfer of the site from the Deed of Gift into full ownership through Trustees with no outside party having an interest.

To effect this, all existing Trustees retired, only one of these being reappointed. At 31st December 2006 the Trustees were Gordon Powell, Dick Knight, Eric Bryant and Dave Gilbert. Their function is to ensure the Committee acts and operates in the best interests of the Club in ownership and use of the land.

25th June 2003 was the 60th time of assembly of members for an AGM, 35 of which represent shooting at Southleigh Forest. We all appreciate that, over time, premises etc. depreciate unless fully maintained. Accordingly a programme of repair and new building was initiated which will probably cost £80,000 by the time work on this phase is completed. In 2002 /03 a top surface was applied to the car park, the butts were re- dressed with sand to conform to the required angle, and footings dug to lengthen the two indoor ranges. There was still time in 2003 to host the Hants and IOW games and to introduce sporting rifle and air matches to the event’s activities. Havant won the target rifle and lightweight sporting rifle events.

During 2005 we learned of the death of Sir Lynton White (after whom our main indoor range is named) and of his widow Lady Phyllis White, whom many remember visiting our range to pass it formally into our possession from the original Deed of Gift.

The following year, Mr Robert White, their son, presented the prizes at our AGM and spoke of the White family history. Our President, in reply, reflected on his own knowledge of the club site as a youngster in the 1940’s. The members then by acclaim elected Mr White as a Patron of the club.

With the above all safely signed and sealed the work started previously could now be continued with gusto by Eric Bryant’s team of volunteers, with outside help where necessary.

So far, they have reinstated and covered the drainage ditch, replaced outdoor target frames, car park floodlights, the car park surface, indoor and 100yd range roofs, the White and Weaver range butts, the gent’s toilet, the sand on the outdoor butts, and repaired the 100yd firing point garage doors, and also built a target store and workshop – plus completely renovating the club room.

At the same time, the club has hosted more shooting activities: the Portsmouth Open, Final Fling, Springfield meetings, Hants and IOW Games, Goodwood  Pony Club and disabled groups.

If anything can breed success, it is involvement and willingness to assist, compete and then manage, that has made the Havant Rifle and Pistol Club a success locally and nationally.

The facilities now available will doubtless in themselves attract competitors to the club This booklet is intended to show the 65 year history of this club through my own eyes, and I hope the sport will continue for many more years to come.

As I conclude my shooting after 58 years, it gives me pleasure to record the latest success in rifle – the ‘A’ team winning the Portsmouth and District shoulder-to-shoulder League without a tie or a defeat. Congratulations also to Tony Thornhill for winning two Gold awards during the winter season for muzzle-loading rifle in Patch Ball 50m and Free Rifle 100 yards competition.

Meanwhile, attendances at the range continue to increase. In 2005/06 and average 67 shot each week in their various disciplines, either in practice or in matches, rising to 72 in 2006/07 and to 85 in the current year.

Recent rifle results show Havant ‘A’ again won the Portsmouth Shoulder-to-Shoulder League, and this time added the 50m National Outdoor Winter League Division 2 title. Bill Baird took part in the Interservices Meeting at Bisley and was second in the Grand Aggregate and standing and kneeling events.

The two Light Sporting Rifle teams both won their divisions and are to be promoted to National League divisions 1 and 2.

As Treasurer for the majority of this personal record of the Club’s history, I remain confident that the camaraderie that exists will ensure our facilities will continue to improve and thereby attract more target shooters to join us and maintain the competition achievements we have already gained.

With most of the building work on the Southleigh Forest site now completed, attention was turned to endeavouring to replace the lost .22 pistol activities and the club is grateful to the initiatives taken by:

John Wilson, the club’s former pistol captain, to introduce archery to the club.

Claude Close, who formed a lightweight sporting rifle section, now expanded into a Portsmouth area shoulder to shoulder league.

David Cole, who guided the club into black powder single shot pistol and revolver disciplines.

Shooting in the 1980s

The 1980’s was the decade in which individual members proved their ability in a wider field.

Neil Braisher shot for England in the Pershing Trophy at Camp Perry, USA and at Suhl in Germany in 1982, at Joensu in Finland in 1984 and won the British Prone Rifle Championship, shot at Bisley, four times in succession, equalling the British record.

Alex Welch represented England in the Under 25’s Match v Switzerland at Bedford in 1984 and won the British Junior (Rhodes Cup) at Bisley. Alan Perry shot in several home countries international matches and representedg Great Britain in the Pershing Trophy shot in America, where he tied with Neil Braisher for the top individual score.

Gordon Perry, P. Probert and J. Draper shot together in Gibraltar whilst representing the Royal Navy.

In 1988 Havant became the only club ever to have filled the three top positions in the British Prone Individual Rifle Championships – 1st Neil Braisher, 2nd Alan Perry,  3rd  Malcolm Cooper, who got his own back by winning the next year.  This record of one club filling the first three places still stands today.  As does a County filling the first four places.  Phil Wooldridge came fourth and subsequently joined Havant

Malcolm and Sarah Cooper, who had met at HMS Nelson in 1969 and married in 1974, carried Havant’s name throughout the world. Some of their successes are reprinted on page 20 but were also recorded on television.

Sarah Cooper was British Ladies Champion in 1974 and together they won the small-bore pairs event for England at the 1986 Commonwealth Games, fitted in between Malcolm’s two successful Olympic titles – Los Angeles in 1984 and Seoul in 1988. Malcolm had also been selected for the 1980 Moscow Games but the shooting sports withdrew before travelling.

To mark his achievements, on his return in 1988, Malcolm was awarded the accolade of an M.B.E. and was offered the Presidency of the Havant Rifle Club, which he accepted and served until his unfortunate illness and death in 2001.

Transcript of the introduction to the interview with Malcolm Cooper on BBC TV ‘Out to Win’ on October 9th 1979, partly filmed at Havant RPC Range. .

“This a championship full bore rifle and if you can hold it as steady as that – well, after a few years practice, you might be able to give the man who is holding it here, Malcolm Cooper of Portsmouth something of a run for his money. He has to be very special, though, as Malcolm is one of our National, European and World shooting champions.

….despite all the gloom.. …World and European Standing Champion at 300 metres and European small-bore champion at 50 metres, second in the world at 50 metres in all three competitions at all three shooting positions combined, namely Prone, Kneeling and Standing.

That’s quite a list, but first of all, for now you can talk a little about the small-bore rifle ……….”

 Shooting from 1990-2001

In the aftermath of success, the retirements of Malcolm Cooper and Neil Braisher in 1991 meant a return to more routine and individual competition with successes still achieved at local, county and national league levels. This is particularly rewarding following the changes in competition requirements following changes in the law preventing .22 pistol leagues from 1998 onwards.

Subsequent successes include:-

1998  National Outdoor Summer League

Alan Perry, 47th   and M. Restall, 57th  out of 841 shooters.

1999  Summer 6 yards Air Pistol League

D.Dumbrell 8th , E. Bryant 9th

Lightweight Sporting Rifle Standing Individual League

P.Tester 2nd, Class A, G.Powell 2nd  & C.Close 6th, Class B

6 Yard Air-Pistol Individual League

D. Dumbrell 3rd  Class B

Standing Air Pistol Individual League

D. Gilbert 14th, Class A

ISSF 10 metre Standard Air Pistol Individual League.

D. Gilbert 5th  Class A

2000/01 Portsmouth Shoulder to Shoulder Rifle League

‘A’ team 1st, Div. 1, ‘B’ team 2nd Div. 2 and promoted

2001  National PSK Rifle League – 1st Div. 3

National 50 meter Rifle League – 1st  Div. 6, 1st Div. 12

National 50yd Metric league – 1st  Div. 13

Any Sights  League – 1st Div. 4

Havant Final Fling Invitation Match – 3rd

Club shooters continued to show an interest in shooting away from the club with Rob Watts taking third place at an air weapon event at Okehampton and also winning an award from Havant Sports Council, whilst Duncan Farmer, Bill Baird, Alan and Claire Perry shot well at rifle open meetings and at Bisley.

In the past 60 years many keen members have devoted their time and energies to building up the club to its present levels – these include :-

Chairmen –       B.Bulpitt, J.Jameson, M.Upton, G. Smith, A. Perry

Secretaries –     M.Child, W.J.Seward, J.Gatland, B.Upton, R.Weaver, C.Smart, D.Cole, K. Lefevre

Treasurers –      H.B. Seward, B.Hall, M.Buswell, Mrs M.Rigby

The Builders – most members have contributed. They are fully represented in the three pages of photograph albums kept in the club.

The Shooters – who have won the Individual Club Championships within their spheres of activity.

Rifle –  S.A. Scott, P. Probert, M. Buswell, A. Abbott, N.Braisher, G.Perry, M. Reynolds, P. Terry,                                                                                         A. Perry F. Hounsell, M. Restall

.22 Pistol –  B. Stubbs, J. Anderson, J. Wilson, D. Gilbert

Air Rifle –   A.Shaw, A.Syms, T.Millson, P.Fowler, C.Smith, I.Thompson                              N. Cantwell

Air Pistol –  D.Cole, R.Eneas, A.Millson, D.Gilbert, A.Syms, Mrs M. Rigby

In this revision of the club booklet it becomes possible to record the activity up to a period in which Eric Bryant asked for help that would be needed to maintain and improve a site of this size. A proposal to commit members to 10 hours of work as a condition of membership was defeated at an AGM.


Malcolm Cooper
Double Olympic gold medallist
Club president 1988 – 2001