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1996 International Muzzle Loading Championships

As Told by Stu Barclay to Jim Reed

The New Zealand Team Finishes Second

Last year, there was an international muzzleloading shooting competition held in the UK. This is a bi-annual affair, and teams from around the world arrived to participate in rifle, shotgun and pistol events. The New Zealanders had to travel 12,000 miles to take part.

The following is a story by Stu Barclay from Taumaranui. Stu is a black powder shotgun shooter, as is his wife and 13 year old daughter. His eight year-old son is still into air rifles. Stu sells aluminum joinery and lives at Taumaranui, in the centre of the North Island of New Zealand. Taumaranui has a population of 4,500, and Stu had never been out of the country, so that you may be able to understand what he was going through, by traveling to such a major event.

The November 1996 edition of English magazine "Guns Review" has full details including all results for those who may wish to track it down.

Here is Stu's story.


Stu Barclay

Well, there I was standing in the Auckland Airport at Customs thinking, 'Hell, I'm actually going'. From when you're told you're in the team until you really are, seemed a long time, but man, I can tell you, time does fly. Now, I've never been to the South Island let alone out of the country! I was one rather nervous guy! The thought of flying and being in that 'tin coffin,' to quote Gerry Lane, for 24 hours, scared the hell out of me. However, once we took off I rather enjoyed the whole flight.

Arrival at Heathrow Airport and Customs went without a hitch, thanks to our team manager Bill. He was worth his weight in gold on the trip. Finding the team bus was a bit of a mission, but as Bill said, 'my problem,' which he solved in his usual efficient way. Now trying to get 12 people, firearms and luggage into a minibus took some doing, but we got there. Scenes of a Calcutta train flash through one's mind. Off to Guilford we go, a few scenic routes, a few meshings of gears and we're there.

A quick shower, then off to Bisley for a look around. What an awesome range, the history, the nostalgia and the Kiwis in the rubbish bins looking for shotgun shells. Got heaps too. That night saw us at a pub called The Kings Head where we had a good meal and a good beer.

The next morning off to Bisley range for rifle practice. Yes, I even fired down the range with a rifle, thanks Tim. It sure felt good to shoot on the hallowed turf. That afternoon Pete and I went shopping. Yeah, OK Ray, I'11 tell them. I even went into a church. St. Mary's, built around the year 1000, the tower of which was erected in 600 AD. The hand hewn beams, flint-covered walls and aura of the place was mind blowing.

Shotgun practice was at Barbie sporting clays just out of Rugby. We shot on a ball trap, clays going 70 metres and as fast as hell, but we got a few. A light lunch, watched a few stations of sporting clays, then off to Kenilworth. Once again a few scenic routes, not so many meshing of gears and much good banter saw us through a couple of hours.

The Clarendon House Hotel was out of a postcard, beams, low ceilings, passageways and old as the hills. The rooms were small but adequate as you only slept in them, but the shower in ours was bloody hopeless!

Wedgnock range is a modern complex and when properly finished will be quite a site. The only bugbear, just one shotgun trap to MLAIC rules. This lead to very short practice use. 10 birds percussion and 6 birds flintlock, were not nearly enough, as the rifle and pistol folk had basically two days of practice. The rifle ranges were in my limited experience, excellent, but no doubt one of the rifle guys will amend that.

That there were 19 countries and around 500 competitors, was quite a humbling thing for someone new to, it all, and from a small rural town. The opening ceremony at Warwick Castle was a moving experience, marching behind your flag, in line with the other countries and around the courtyard to the applause of the public brought lumps to throats, and some suppressed tears. God it felt good to be part of it all. The wearing of the Silver Fern in such company was a very proud moment.

As far as the shooting went our team acquitted itself well with four individual top ten placings, and two top ten-team placings in the rifle events. The shotgunners placed 6th in the Hawker team event and Ray Irving received a Silver Medal after a shoot off for 1st and 2nd with a German. Well done Ray, it was a pleasure to watch you shoot.

On the whole the team were excellent company and a great help 'to the new kid on the block,' so to speak. I cannot stress enough the importance of the role of Team Manager, and Bill Aicitson did a marvelous job. From leaving New Zealand to getting home again, Bill's work and planning saved us untold. I would thoroughly recommend any teams leaving NZ to take a manager (preferably Bill, as his experience in international travel is invaluable.)

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to England, the people, the food, the sites, the history and the beer were all great. I am looking forward to attempting to make the team for the '98 Worlds, back in England, as there is a little pub called the Virgins and Castle that I would like to share a pint in again.