The winner of the 1936 Bisley high school rifle championship was a 15 year old named Aubrey Milstein. Of course, Aubrey was Jewish! So what is Bisley, and who was Aubrey Milstein?
In 1890, the village became the location for the UK’s National Rifle Association Championships which moved there from Wimbledon. The competition is hosted by the NRA on its Bisley ranges – land owned by the Ministry of Defence. Bisley hosted most of the shooting events in the 1908 Olympic Games, and all the shooting for the 2002 Commonwealth Games. During the 2012 Olympic Games the shooting will be held at the Royal Artillery Barracks, Woolwich.
It is also the location of The Operational Shooting Competition, in which members of the British army compete for the coveted Queen’s Medal for Shooting Excellence.
I get the impression the Bisley range is similar to Camp Perry in the US, where every year multiple precision shooting sports have their national matches.
And what about our Jewish marksman, Aubrey Milstein? A eulogy in 2008 had this to say about his marksmanship:
Young Aubrey was a bit of a ruffian – but he refined his combat skills. Not yet 16, a keen member of his Grammar School’s rifle club, he was chosen to represent the school at Bisley, the home of rifle shooting. The finals were on a Saturday – Shabbat, the Sabbath – but still Aubrey had no hesitation in traveling to Bisley – or to shooting on Shabbat , and came away with both the individual title and the school’s title!
The story of Aubrey Milstein’s life is a fascinating read. It is a story filled with Tikun Olam. Aubrey served in both the British Army to fight Hitler, and then fought for and helped build the State of Israel. Later he returned to England, and became involved in a number of charities and inter-faith organizations, and active in the fight against racism and discrimination against all groups, not just Jews. By all impressions, he was a leader in his community.
This summary just scratches the surface of his life, the entire eulogy can be read at this link (I downloaded a copy, drop me a line if you can’t open the link). An inspiring story worth reading.