Because my father, and later on my mother and brother, shot at Bisley, every summer holiday was spent on the ranges. We would catch a train to Woking, then another to Brookwood and then board the "Bisley Bullet" which would take us to The Ranges. The last time the Bullet ran, we all put pennies on the line and the little engine ran over them and flattened them.
At first we hired a caravan and then we bought a big family tent to stay in. I loved it there, with all that open space to play in. I remember spending my pocket money in Gale and Polden's marquee and drinking delicious chocolate Horlicks in the Horlicks' Marquee. I first went there when I was about three years old, in 1950. The last time was when I was a young married mother.
My father, a retired Naval Officer, became secretary to the TA rifle club and sadly died at Bullet lodge in 1972. He had been a great shot and had shot for England. The Queen's Prize however always remained elusive to him although he got pretty close a few times. He spent the first week in July shooting for the Royal Navy team and the remaining two weeks, when the family went to join him, shooting in the civilian competitions.
I made many friends over the years that we spent there and at 17 I fell in love with a handsome Canadian Army cadet who had to return home to Canada the day after the final day. We wrote to each other for a while but eventually the distance became too great and we stopped writing.
I went back to Bisley for a very brief visit a few years ago. We had been visiting family in the area and just drove around the camp. It was like a time warp. Hardly anything had changed since I'd first gone there as a small child. All the beautiful clubhouses were still there and the lovely Pavilion and NRA building. One day I shall go back and spend longer there, walking around all the old haunts. For me it will always be a magical place and I actually never shot a gun there!
A memory shared byon Jun 5th, 2009.
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