Today’s the day we have been training towards for the past year: the day of the Canada match. The team had been picked on their excellent shooting throughout the week, and their ability to cope under extreme pressure – traits that are going to be called upon in the afternoon.
First though, was the final shoot in the Grand Aggregate, the Gatineau. It was a long 2 and 15 at 900m this morning, where even though the wind was being indecisive and tricky – at least the sun had put his hat back on. Conditions were far from easy, there was only one 75 in the entire competition, but Captain Fitz led the way for GB with a 74.8 putting him in 5th place. The team returned to the hut to find that a large military display was still happening on the parade square, and the huge number of dress uniforms around made those of us in flippy floppys feel a little underdressed.
Lunchtime came and went in the blink of an eye, and it was soon time to head down to 300yds to set up for the Canada match. The vans were loaded up with kit, and soon bus 4 found itself tailing the trailer full of butt markers, who were instructed through the window first to smile for a picture, then to give us only V bulls for the afternoon. A few funny glances were sent in our direction, since bus 4 was also flying the Union Flag through the sunroof (though our music choice of the Ride of the Valkyries was possibly a little much). Once the kit was deposited, the targets were drawn and the team moved all the kit again, it was down to the serious business…
300yds brought with it an interesting fishtailing wind, coming down the range from the targets. The first firers got down and slotted in two 50s, which was a brilliant way to start things off. Then the second firers did the same… and before we knew it, after 300 we had only dropped a single point. However, it turned out that the Canadians had been just as clever as us, yet were ahead on V bulls, so we had to keep concentrating and working for our scores.
500yds was a similar story, though with the wind being a little trickier given the extra distance, GB dropped 3 points at this distance. A special mention should go to Steph though, as she knew we needed all the Vs we could get our hands on, so lay down and drilled in a 50.10 in about 5 minutes flat. Quite amazing shooting, when you realise how small the V bull is on Canadian targets. After this range, Great Britain were still sniffing the win, but with an extremely strong Canada team on our heels at every step, who also dropped 3 points at 500yds.
The final fall back to 600yds was done quietly and seriously, knowing we were neck and neck, but still behind on V’s despite Steph’s best efforts. By now, coaches Trem, Jon and DC were all over the wind, and firer after firer shot 50 after 50. Thanks to a few waits earlier on at this distance, Richard ended up on his own on the point, with the eyes of 19 other GB team members on him. Every shot was watched closely (especially those that he kept calling) because we were all aware how close the match was. Nine consecutive bulls and V bulls were sent down the range, and Chinese whispers indicated that Jeens the elder needed to get a bull/V bull for us to retain the trophy. Breath was baited…as the target rose up with a nerveless bull, meaning that Great Britain hadn’t dropped a single point at 600yds, and had beaten Canada to keep the Pimm’s flavoured silverware. Top score in the match was Steph Ward with 150.21, for which she received a very nice little hat as a prize. I’m sure she would’ve also liked the cash equivalent.
There was a little celebrating to do, but not much since tomorrow brings the Commonwealth match at long range, followed by the final of the Governor General’s competition – the Canadian equivalent of the Queen’s final. Some went into Ottawa for dinner and to visit a snack bar that President Obama is known to frequent, and others went just round the corner from the hotel to Al’s Steakhouse. Their trip wasn’t entirely successful for one team member; Dom being the poor chap who had an entire serving of starters air-mailed onto his shirt by a clumsy waitress.
First thing tomorrow morning is the Commonwealth match, a 2 and 10 at 800 and 900 metres, for which the team is as follows: