First Time at a Striking Competition

I started learning to ring in March 2018, in Nassington, Northamptonshire. I’ll always be grateful that they took me under their wings to help me learn to competently handle a bell. We have two ART teachers at our tower and both have been extremely supportive and encouraging. They’ve never let us stand still with our learning, always pushing us when they thought we were ready. Hours of practice and patience are offered and there are always kind words when we have a ‘two steps back’ practice. There’s a group of us at Nassington that are at a similar stage of learning and all are Ringing Remembers recruits. We’ve become friends as well as ringers.The Peterborough Guild 6-bell striking competition was held at the end of April. Our teachers decided that we could enter a band to ring Plain Hunt and Called Changes as we would for Sunday service. The main aim for entering a novice band was to improve our striking. Our band consisted of our two teachers and four Ringing Remembers recruits. The competition was at a relatively local church so we were able to get a practice session there and work out which bells we were comfortable on. We didn’t expect to win but we were all anxious and none of us wanted to let our teachers down. We all felt we could have done with more practice but we had already achieved our goal of improving our striking before the tenor rang twice to tell the judges we were ready. The first few blows were full of tension and anxiety but as the blows went past we started to settle in to it and shoulders were relaxing!

L-R: back row: Hilary Hardie, Terry Wright (teachers); front row: Jane Robinson, Caroline Mould, Alex Heaton, Jane Webb

Without exception we were the least experienced band to have entered but other ringers were giving us tips and generally wanting to help us. We didn’t ring as well as we had done when practising on the bells we know well, but we didn’t do too badly! Of course we came last but got two rounds of applause when it was made known we were mostly ringers with little experience.Ringing in the competition gave us an excellent opportunity to listen to some very good bands, experiences omething new, and has had benefits to us as a band with our improved striking and consequential listening skills. I’d really recommend you consider entering a competition or at least attending to listen.We’re already planning our entry for next year. Maybe even three plain courses of Plain Bob Doubles! And in the meantime our striking skills are improving as well as our listening skills.

This article from the Nassington ringers first appeared in the July edition of Tower Talk magazine, ART’s quarterly e-newsletter for new ringers, by new ringers.  You don’t need to be on the Learning the Ropes programme to subscribe and it’s totally free, so please sign up here if you’d like to receive future copies.

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