Establishing the Miniature Rifle Range and Lindfield Rifle Club

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Arising from the invasion threat in the Great War, the proposal that Lindfield should have a miniature rifle range was first made in autumn 1914, but did not proceed due to the absence of a suitable site.  Suggested sites for the range included the School Yard and on the Common.

Consequent upon the formation of the Lindfield Volunteer Training Corps for home defence and the Lindfield Boy Scouts, Mr Parker Anscombe raised the subject again at the January 1915 Parish Council meeting.  He felt the Common was the right location and that the Council should take the matter forward.  However the meeting decided the initiative should not come from the Council and there were legal issues with the Common.

Support from residents gathered momentum and the search for a suitable site was renewed.  Mr W Sturdy agreed to provide a site in Tentermead rented by Mr Box, adjoining Alma Lane, and Miss Maud Savill offered to fund the building of a 25 yard four-target indoor range.  Mr Parker Anscombe was ordered to put the work in hand.

This was announced at a well attended meeting on 13 February 19125 and it was agreed a miniature rifle club affiliated to the Association of Miniature Rifle Clubs should be formed.  Miss Savill was elected President along with six Vice Presidents and a large committee, all were prominent residents.  Mr Rotherham and Mr Jesse Newnham volunteered to give shooting instruct and Miss Savill agreed to fund the purchase of four rifles.  Mr Box was to receive a peppercorn rent for the land on which the range stood.

The rifle range opening ceremony, performed by Colonel Dudley Sampson, took place at 3.00pm on Wednesday 31 March 1915.  A Guard of Honour was provided by Lindfield Boy Scouts and the drum and fife band of the 2/2nd London Field Ambulance, RAMC played.  It is reported that Colonel Sampson achieved a bull’s eye with his first shot!

The Club’s annual subscription was 2s 6d and is for boys under 16 years.  The range was open each weekday evening and Wednesday afternoons.  The Lindfield Boy Scouts and the Volunteer Training Corps were allocated use of the range on Wednesday and Thursday evenings respectively.

At the Club’s first AGM in March 1916, subscriptions totalling £9 7s 0d and a £25 expenses deficit was reported.  Membership numbers are not known, but the Presidents, Vice Presidents and Committee totalled 25; largely the same individuals as the Lindfield Volunteer Training Corps.  Indicating the ‘great and the good’ recognised the need for rifle practice in support of home defence.  At the meeting it was decided ladies should be allowed to join the Club and were allotted Wednesday afternoons for their shooting.

Between March 1915 and March 1916, some 50,000 rounds were fired at the range.  Members had to buy the ammunition at cost from the Club.  The range continued to be widely used throughout the remainder of the Great War.

With the coming of the peace the Club closed as it was felt the last thing men would want to do was handle a rifle again.  Following a short break, the Club was re-established and continues to this day.  A modern indoor range on the same site has recently replaced the original corrugated iron clad range building.

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