Early in 2019 I found a group on Facebook that caught my eye, The Lee Enfield Rifle Association Australia (LERAA), this group caught my attention for two reasons, first and foremost I’m pretty keen on the old Enfield and I was intrigued, about this mob claiming the title of the Lee Enfield Association on social media. I obviously asked to join, and what an amazing group of characters it turned out to be, the odd dreamer and plenty of schemer’s from very diverse backgrounds. The Jokes and sometime crude banter within this group is not out of place in footy club change room or barrack block, I just knew I would fit in.
The knowledge of the Short Magazine Lee Enfield (smelly) it’s history and quirks as well as the many variants, from a group of men and women both here and abroad is fantastic, if not sometimes lost in completely off topic banter. Any way by the end of the year I had become a corresponding member of this loose mob, from Far North Queensland with dreams of one day attending an actual shoot. I was hooked I joined the armourers and hunters page, I even bought the T shirt.
As luck would have it (debatable), with work I was heading to Victoria for two years. On my travels down the east coast I caught up with Murgo,( side note Murgotroyd Rd is one of the main roads in Cairns) a true blue character who is passionate about the Rifle and it’s association.
2020 started a with a flash literally and the Aussie spirit came through as association members turned thought away from the shooting activities and looked to the welfare of our mates. Then the Pandemic named after cheap Mexican beer dashed the ANZAC shoot and any chance of catching up to turn ammo into brass. Aussies doing the right thing and we levelled the curve just enough to allow some social interactions, and Rankins Springs became a reality in mid-June.
Restrictions lifted and so was my spirits, it was time to load some 174 grainers and pack the car. 19 June I was frothing at the bit to get away car was packed but work was still to be done, so I hit the road just after 1 pm, and started the 500km plus trip. I had no idea where I was actually going and what my reception would be as a newbie. I rolled into the range complex at a little after 7 pm, total darkness a huddle of shadowy figures around a bonfire, and smaller fires indicating various campsites, as I turned toward an open space a figure came to great me with a “who’s that”. I have just met Woody a strong hand shake and massive grin he welcomed me to park up and come and join the group at the fire. Social distance being observed of course.
I was welcomed by all at the fire place well actually Steven (my dog) was, I was just his chauffer. A couple of bourbons, and introductory chatter and then it was time to set up camp. 6 am The morning quiet was split with a bellowing Good morning followed by random names as Murgo did his traditional good morning roll call, breakfast and then we gathered for the Flag raising and briefings for the day.
Fire arms were scrutinised (any excuse to handle someone else’s old .303) and firing details were organised safety appointments briefed and it was time to shoot. All practices were to at 200 yards with period correct targetry from early 1900’s first practice, two spotters and ten to score standing unsupported with the bayonet fixed. A great way to shake out the cobwebs after months of not shooting. Murgo took the top shot with a 40 out 50 for round one.
The first day of shooting was very relaxed and well-co-ordinated, with some very good shooting, and many laughs. The afternoon allowed time to clean rifles and the conduct association meetings and governance. Gary Traynor assisted by young Kyran and John gave a fantastic historical presentation about a gifted shotgun and its previous owner in WW 1.
The second day turned out to be as smoothly run as the first with various positions and again some great results. The end of the day with the tag awards and cash prizes being handed to the top shots of each event and overall going to Peter Maher. All in all a great weekend and it was sad to watch the group dwindle as families packed up and headed home.
N.B. Steven will be presented with his own…the very first K9 member tags at his next shoot!
UPDATE Lockdown laws have isolated Steven from the presentation ceremony . Thank you Andrew for forwarding a photo of the private family presentation