Scottish Smallbore Rifle Association

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SCOTTISH SMALLBORE RIFLE ASSOCIATION HALL OF FAME

Allan  Bell/Jackson  DeJonckheere  Law  Littlechild  D McIntosh  Sharp  Smith/McIntosh  Stratton/Mackenzie  Walker

Cyril De Jonckheere (1941- )                                                                                                                            Back to HoF intro page

No. of Caps: 73 First: 1966        
  Last: 2011   CG & CSF Medals
Cap record         G S B
Commonwealth Games Prone        
3P  
Air  
Commonwealth Shooting Federation Championships Prone        
3P  
Air  
Commonwealth Shooting Federation (European Division) Prone 3      
3P        
Air        
National Meeting Main 35      
Ladies        
3x40        
3x20        
Scottish Meeting Main 30      
Ladies        
NSRA Air Rifle Main        
Ladies        
Other Prone 4      
3P        
Air 1      
 

Cyril De Jonckheere must be one of the most-recognised and respected names in Scottish shooting.  Although not achieving his ambition of shooting in a Commonwealth Games, Cyril has stamped his name on many championships and trophies over the years. 

However, his long-term achievement which will put his name in the annals of Scottish shooting forever is that he has represented Scotland more times than anyone else at the National Meetings both at Bisley and the Scottish - both by some margin.  This includes a run of 19 successive international matches at Bisley, itself a record - only one other Scots shooter has more than 19 Bisley caps and he will never reach Cyril's current total.  It will take a shooter with considerable dedication and longevity to come close to Cyril's record of representational honours.  He is third in the overall list to Robin Law and Sheena Sharp.

Cyril was born in Wick in Caithness in 1941, and as the grandson of an émigré and despite the name he's as Scottish as the next man. If you've heard his voice, you won't disagree.  He is one of a large family and has nine siblings, seven sisters and two brothers.  He left Wick in 1945 and was thereafter raised in Stonehaven, the fishing village just south of Aberdeen. His family lived from the sea and its produce, and he has said that as a child he got totally fed up with eating sea-trout!

His father and grandfather shot at the local club, and he started shooting there aged 12. At one time G J De Jonckheere, C J De Jonckheere and C G De Jonckheere shot in the same team.  Pity the poor scorer.  He started off with a BSA 12/15 but graduated to a BSA MKII then to a MkIII when he went to university in Aberdeen. He claims that the generous student grant bought all his equipment!  Wouldn't happen these days.  He joined the famous Aberdeen club Bon Accord in 1966 and never looked back. Encouraged by Ian Baird and given a massive push by Adam Gordon his shooting flourished.

His first Scottish was Nairn in 1966 and by waiting for the gales to decrease (all shooting was unsquadded in those days), he qualified to shoot for Scotland.  As the only Bon Accord representative in the team he felt had to shoot well to uphold the reputation of the club, and so he did - he was second-top scorer. Not bad for a first cap.  As a newcomer to the scene and a relative stranger he was just left to himself to get on with it (so much for team spirit), so he did his own thing, which, he says, he still does.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it, I guess.

On graduating he worked for 10 years at the Meteorological Office in Bracknell and other places doing high atmosphere research, forecasting and weather radar work. That included a secondment to Woomera in Australia for a time, a trip and an experience he will never forget.  He enjoyed the work and the competitive shooting in the south. During this time he shot for St Nicholas Rifle Club (Chiselhurst) and also Glevum (Gloucester). This writer has been to St Nicks, and there's still a photo of Cyril on the clubhouse wall.  However he always had a hankering to return to Scotland, so he retrained as a Physics teacher and applied for jobs in his homeland.  I'm sure he would have preferred to be in the Aberdeen area, but the only job he could get was near Dumfries, which is about as far away from Aberdeen as you can get and still be in Scotland.  He taught at Annan Academy for 25 years until retirement in 2002(?).

This period in England saw him make many friends and acquaintances in the English shooting scene.  There's hardly a shooter of his generation in the UK who doesn't either know him personally, or know of him.  A definite 'character'.  Once met, never forgotten.

One of his most memorable moments came in winning the A Class aggregate (the last as the highest Class before X Class was introduced) in Aberdeen in 1970.  He knew he had to shoot 395 or better to beat the late Don Bester, who had shot earlier, and he came off the firing point highly elated at achieving this.  His friends were too - I was watching him do it, and I still remember seeing his first two shots at 50yds go smack in the middle!  " Incidentally, Cyril is one of only two current shooters among those who were selected by the NSRA to comprise the original X Class at Bisley in 1970 who are still shooting in that Class.  If anyone's interested, the other is Geoff Doe of the NSRA, whom many readers will know of.

Cyril won the Scottish Long-Range Championship for the Earl Haig trophy three times.  He won it twice in a row in 1979 and 1980, then became one of the oldest to win it at age 57 in 1999.  He certainly has the record for the longest time between two wins.

He qualified for the British team for the European Championships in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia in 1969 but was overawed by the occasion and did not shoot well. This was both a high (being selected) and a low (shooting poorly), but his greatest disappointment came in 1973 when he was not picked for the Scotland Commonwealth Games team for the Games in Christchurch.  That year he had been shooting very well, and had made an almost unanswerable case for himself in the trials.  However, the size of the overall shooting party had been restricted to only seven shooters  The four shooting disciplines (smallbore rifle, fullbore rifle, pistol and shotgun) could not all send two shooters. The choice for the last place in the party came down to either a pistol shooter or Cyril (Alister Allan had been virtually seeded in as the primary smallbore shooter)  The selection went the wrong way for Cyril despite strong representations on his behalf, and it hit him very hard as he  was expecting to go (and in fact had been led to believe that he would after the trials).  He was made first reserve for the team in case anyone dropped out, but the closest he was to get to the Commonwealth Games was as an official in the Classification Office for the smallbore events at the Edinburgh Games in 1986.  He's not bitter about it though.  Much.

However, still in 1973, he qualified for Great Britain's Pershing match team, travelling to Camp Perry in the USA for the every-eight-years match, and it was a great experience for him (although the match was lost).  He must have wondered how he could be one of the top 10 shooters in Britain, but not be able to get into Scotland's CG team.  He's been in the GB Dewar team several  times and was appointed to be the team's Adjutant in 2002 & '03 then Captain for 2004 & '05: the first Scot to be so honoured for some years.

He lives for shooting and another contribution Cyril has made is in the administration of the sport in Scotland.  He has held every official post in the SSRA Council, from Council Member up to Chairman - the only person to have done that particular grand slam. Currently serving as a foot-soldier on the Council, he is active in organising SSRA indoor competitions and helps to run the SSRA Grand Prix events in the summer. He has also acted as coach to the SSRA Junior and 'B' Squads.  He was made a Life Member of the SSRA in 2000.

To relax, he reads, does Sudokus and goes hill-walking, with the Lake District a favourite place.

There's life in the old dog yet and at time of writing (2011) he has definitely not won his last Scotland cap.

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WFH
October 2009


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