Colchester Rifle Club

.................................whose history stretches over more than a Century

For more than a hundred years, Colchester Rifle Club has spawned many highly successful members, some of whom have shot, and indeed still do, at National and International level. The Club is nowadays more small-bore orientated, with sections for the National Small-bore Rifle Association (NSRA) affiliated .22 rim-fire rifle target-shooting competitions, Sporting and Gallery Rifle, inclusive of the Air Rifle and Pistol group, with junior members from just 12 years of age, all undertaken at the purpose-built Layer-de-la-Haye premises. However, the club has a good representation in full-bore shooting, and the section make a considerable impression in County competition. Indeed, the Club has prided itself that, in the past, members of considerable longstanding, and one or two still shooting, have been highly successful at National and International level. The club boasts past and present members who have been winners of major Imperial Meeting prizes, including the King's Prize and, more recently, the Grand Aggregate there. One member - the late Chalky White, won the King's prize on three occasions.

Even in recent years, the club has hosted members who have achieved notable successes, not least of which is the winning of the Lord Roberts main National event at the Bisley annual small-bore meeting, where the competition is as great as it can be, short of at the Commonwealth and Olympic games or World Championships.

The Colchester Rifle Club has published a comprehensive

..and thoroughly researched history of the club.

This beautifully produced hardback book is

........................NOW AVAILABLE FROM STOCK



......................................................1900 to 2000 by MAX EARNSHAW

.....................................................................FOR FURTHER DETAILS OF THE CLUB Email: CONTACT

We offer two or three articles that may give you an insight to the club's remarkable history.

Do not miss this opportunity to read a comprehensive .......................................... History of the Club

Please read a little of what we believe makes the Colchester Rifle Club special! ............ A Century of Shooting

.and of the sad loss in 2002 of an illustrious member .........................................Larry Orpen-Smellie (OBITUARY)

.and another piece on a remarkable CRC member, the late ........................................."Chalky" White

.A Bullseye with every shot ! The first ever possible on the new experimental Targets! ... Frank Pacey - 400 ex 400 December 1964

For enquiries of the Colchester Rifle Club, please email:

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Obituary - Larry Orpen-Smellie - Late of Colchester

Brought to you by the Essex Chronicle

Crack rifle shot Lieutenant Colonel 'Larry' Orpen-Smellie, who saw service with the Essex and Parachute regiments, has died aged 72 after a courageous battle against cancer.

He is survived by his widow, Jean, son Giles, Regimental Lieutenant Colonel of the Parachute regiment, and daughter Jane.

Larry, as he was known since childhood, looked every inch a soldier: ramrod straight back, bristling moustache, twinkling eye and a purposeful stride, often breaking into a double.

He was one of this country's leading rifle shots, both as a soldier and as a member of the National Rifle Association.

His final few years in the service were spent commanding a wing at the Military Corrective Training Centre at Colchester, which suddenly had a run of successes in the Army's minor units shooting competitions.

He accepted a retired officer's appointment as regimental secretary of the 3rd Battalion of The Royal Anglian Regiment at the Essex regiment's former depot at Warley and then retired officer for lands and training in headquarters eastern district, Colchester,

He was latterly president of the south east Essex branch of the Parachute Regimental Association, and president of the Colchester branches of the Royal British Legion, the Korean Veterans Association and the Malayan and Borneo Veterans Association.

Larry, awarded the OBE in 1980, for his services to military shooting, celebrated his 70th birthday in New Zealand with a bungee jump.

It was later reported that a voice had been heard from somewhere behind him in the queue saying: ''The old boy won't go.''

He did, with the characteristic dive that he had always used when jumping from the balloon during his military parachuting days.

After his father, Major Archie Smellie of the Dorset regiment, was killed at Dunkirk in 1940, his mother, Beth, a lifelong volunteer of the St John Ambulance brigade, they both went to live with her parents in their house at Colchester, which has remained the family home.

Educated at Wellington College and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, he was commissioned into the Essex regiment in 1949 and posted to the 1st Battalion in Colchester as a rifle platoon commander.

He attracted a degree of notoriety for his pranks, which included the lowering of a thunderflash down the chimney of the Officers' Club during a ladies bridge evening, which Larry judged needed livening up!

The 1st Battalion was sent to Korea soon after he joined them, arriving shortly after the ceasefire was announced.

Larry demonstrated the beginnings of a lifelong interest in marksmanship as a boy by taking the heads off all the tulips in the garden with an air rifle.

He took up the sport more seriously while at school and achieved international standard, first selected for army teams while still an officer cadet.

By his early 20s he was shooting service weapons and target rifle regularly for the army, England and Great Britain.

He returned to the 1st Battalion the Essex regiment in Hong Kong in 1954 before applying successfully for a secondment to the Parachute regiment and posted as Adjutant to the 1st Battalion.

During this tour the Essex regiment was amalgamated into the Royal Anglian regiment and he accepted an offer to transfer into the Parachute regiment's newly formed Permanent Cadre of Officers in 1958, remaining for the remainder of his service.

He went to the Pakistan Army staff college in the north west Frontier Province for 1960-61 and then onto Malaya as chief instructor at the Malay infantry instructor's school.

Larry returned home to regimental duty in 1965 to command a company in the 3rd Battalion the Parachute regiment and deployed with them to British Guyana.

He later became second-in-command of the battalion during a busy tour that included operations in Ghana, Cyprus and Northern Ireland.

In 1957 he became one of only three ever to have been selected to shoot for the army in all five disciplines of the inter-services matches in a single year.

He also shot target rifle with increasing success and, among many other achievements, and travelled on 20 Great Britain overseas teams between 1952 and 1996.

The funeral service took place at the Garrison Church, Colchester, on Tuesday, May 28.

Published Friday, May 31, 2002


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This article is taken from a Journal which we will acknowledge when its identity is confirmed


written by



Robert Long tells the story of Great Wigborough's sharpest shooter

  John “Chalky” White, of Great Wigborough near Colchester, was 90 years of age when he died in October 1992. A soldier for most
of his life, he he has left behind a vast collection of medals and trophies for competition target shooting that covers over 60 years of the sport.
 He was still shooting and winning at the age of 76 and playing an active part at that Mecca of all riflemen, Bisley, into his 80s. As a winner of the King's Medal at Bisley on three occasions, and the only soldier to do so, he deserves at least some immortality for this remarkable feat.
John White was born in Lambeth, London in 1902 and was brought up in an orphanage. He entered the Army at the tender age of 17 where he joined the Rifle Brigade, the famous Green Jackets, where his skill with the Lee- Enfield rifle was soon to be recognised. He rose to the rank of sergeant and in 1932 he won the British Army Rifle Championship in India.
Then in 1937 he reached that pinnacle of marksmanship sought after by all the competitive riflemen in the world, he won the King's Medal at Bisley for the first time! After being chaired by his fellow competitors, as is the tradition, he received a telegram of congratulations from the King.
This was to be only the beginning of a remarkable career, for he was destined to win the King's Medal at Bisley again in 1949 and 1953. But for the intervening war years, he may well have had the chance to create a record that could never have been surpassed.
At the start of World War II he was, not surprisingly, made a weapons instructor. His remarkable eyesight and skill were considered very valuable indeed, and therefore needed to teach others, which with all things considered was probably very lucky for some of the enemy infantry at the time. To have had Chalky White looking at you down the sights of his rifle would have been a rather daunting experience, if not a short lived one.
An all round sportsman during his time in the Army he also excelled at football and running even winning the

Daily Mail cross country championship in the 1920s.
Chalky White had loved music all his life and, being an accomplished musician. played the banjo in a jazz hand. This musical ability was never to desert him, even in his older years, for he was to play the instrument on Colchester Hospital radio when in his 70s. He even toured the local parishes in Essex entertaining with his banjo playing and singing at the village halls. He is still remembered in many Essex villages today.
After the war, he came to live with his wife Elsie and their young children John, Fred and Eileen in the quiet and tranquil countryside of Great Wigborough near Colchester. In 1947 he joined the Territorial Army where he was to serve for 14 years until 1961 when he was 59.
Chalky White never stopped competition target shooting and was still com­peting with Colchester Rifle Club at the remarkable age of 76. Indeed, that was his age when he won the club's Admiral Hutton Cup with a score of 49 out of 50 at 600 yards!
Among the hundreds of medals and trophies he had won over the years are the London and Middlesex Rifle Championship, the Aldershot Command

Championship four times, the East Anglian Championship three times and the Essex Championship six times.
In 1928 at Bisley he scored the highest possible 105. without sighters, for which he won a handsome bronze trophy. Having first shot at Bisley in 1924 he attended every year (apart from the war years) until into his 80s.
In his later years, with that wonderful eyesight sadly now fading, he turned to Bowls and played regularly with his eldest son John winning a few more trophies for his cabinet.
The fine health Chalky White had enjoyed throughout his life, for he had always been unmistakably a soldier with his upright stance, began to deteriorate. Finally at the grand old age of 90 he died at Welshwood Nursing Home, Colchester, where they still miss his singing.
John Chalky White left his entire collection of medals and trophies to the Army Museum (The Green Jackets) at Winchester. A more fitting home it would behard to imagine. His ashes, as you would expect, are to be scattered at Bisley.
They say that old soldiers never die -and so me, it would appear, never ever fade away. Certainly not Grea Wigborough's famous sharpshooter.

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From The Rifleman - December 1964




We reproduce the first Highest Possible 400 shot over the Dewar Course in 1964 Summer Season League and fired on British Experimental Series A' 50 and 100 yd. targets. Congratulations to Mr. Frank Pacey, a member of the Colchester Rifle Club.

In Round 7 of the National League, shooting for City of Birmingham, A. G. (Tony) Walmsley scored the second H.P.S. 400 using Eley Tenex.

Since then, though perhaps this is not a comparable shoot because it was fired in the 'Any Sights' League, T. P. Morgan, the Olympic Games marksman, shot a 400 in the First Division for Addiscombe, though it does not compare for accuracy or central grouping (it included several gaugable shots). Then Peter Leddy, shooting for Dumbarton, whose team won the Scottish League again this season, had an even better shoot than that which we illustrate. Practically all his twenty shots were inside the bull ring at 50 yds. and they were all well inside the ten' ring at 100 yds. In fact, only three shots missed the inner carton.

We asked Mr. Pacey for details of his shooting and the follow­ing extracts from his letter will be of interest :

"This round was fired on the Colchester Club Range at Layer-de-la-Haye near Colchester. The 50 yds. were shot about 7.30 a.m. and the 100 yds. after about an hour's rest. The range faces west. The light was perfect and what wind there was blowing was fairly constant—ideal con­ditions really; in fact as perfect as when we shot the Dewar Match at Bisley three days previously. "


"I am aged 37 and employed by British Railways as a Station Master and have been shooting for about eight years although I only took it up seriously three years ago when I joined the Colchester Club. Previously I had shot only for the Holland-on-Sea Club of which I am still a member. During my shoot I had company on the 50 yds. point. Whilst shooting the 100 yds. I was the only person shooting, although Mr. Scott Badcock, the Club Captain, was packing up his gear and telling me what a good shoot he had had. My last shots on the card were seen through a telescope by Colin Almond, the County Champion. During this 100 yds. shoot several members were doing Standing and Kneeling cards and about six were shooting pistols. These ranges adjoin the 100 yd. range which is in a disused sand pit and partially protected by trees from wind blowing from the north. ' I shoot with two rifles a B.S.A. Mk. III and an Anschutz Super Match. These cards were shot with the B.S.A. The ammunition used was Eley Rifle Club. The little success that I've met at this shooting game I can attribute directly to the two books written by A. G. Banks and to several long chats I've had with Wilf Fuller who has taught me a lot. "

Another ' 400 '

Peter Leddy used Eley Tenex ' cartridges which were specially batched for his Martini-International Mk. III rifle which has a barrel band bedding and an adjusting screw beneath the barrel. On the night of the shoot there was flat calm but a fairly heavy drizzle of rain, which did not bother them shooting from beneath a covered firing point when Walter Buchanan, the Dumbarton Secretary, was also shooting and was acting as witness.


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For enquiries of the Colchester Rifle Club, please email:

Enquiries concerning the website only should be directed to:

The Editor