an old Black Country sport

by the late Frank Spittle

At the end of the 19th century and in the first half of the 20th century, thousands of people in Wolverhampton, the Black Country and Birmingham, as well as other parts of the UK, engaged in shooting air rifles at a "bell target" – a metal target with a tiny hole at the bull’s eye. If you hit the bull, at bell behind the hole rang. This form of target shooting was engaged in, mainly in pubs, all over the area, with hundreds of teams organised into dozens of leagues. It was a form of marksmanship which was of great social significance to the working classes of the area and which served the country well in war.

To read the story, click on the headings below:

1.  Origins and Early History
2.  History up to 1914
3.  History from 1918 to the present
4.  The Equipment:  the Target
5.  The Equipment:  the Rifles and ammunition
6.  At the Match – a typical match in a pub
7.  Some Teams and People
8.  Social and charitable aspects

This account is taken from "Ring my Bell: an Old Black Country Sport" by Frank Spittle. The text of the print edition of this work is copyright Frank Spittle, 1995; this electronic edition is copyright Frank Spittle, 2001. All photos, except where otherwise acknowledged, are copyright Frank and Anthony Spittle, 1995 and 2001.

Read about Frank Spittle and his contribution to shooting

The author would like to thank all individuals, shooting members, shooting organisations and members of the Gun Trade for their help in the production of this book. He expresses his particular thanks to Brenda, his wife, for her help and patience; and to The National Small Bore Rifle Association and the Rifleman, Dennis Commins of N.A.R.P.A., Wolverhampton Borough Council, W. W. Greener, W. B. Godwin, Joy Saunderson, The Birmingham Air Gun League, John McNish and his son Antony for photography.


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