Canada and the USA rank among the most interesting and beautiful countries on the planet, which makes it a privilege as well as an honour to have been appointed by NRA Council to captain the Great Britain Rifle Team to the US National Championships and the Canadian Fullbore Rifle Championships.
Since I first shot in Canda as a student ( before spending a few months living in Montreal, ostensibly to practise my French), the welcome at Connaught has made it hard to stay away. The annual exchange of shooting talent between Great Britain and Canada at both senior and junior level has been a source of many long term friendships as well as the spur for youngsters from both countries to continue in a sport that they can enjoy for the rest of their lives. Long may that tradition live on.
A new “tradition” has been developing in recent years: it has been great to see an increase in touring both to and from the USA. The US National Team has been a welcome and popular addition at ranges around the world ; meanwhile, overseas teams have been made to feel at home at Raton and I feel fortunate to have shot in America twice recently: in 2012, on GB’s first TR team at Camp Perry for 36 years, and earlier this year as Captain of the Scottish team to California. The hospitality we encountered was extraordinary.
This year’s Great Britain team will follow in the 2012 team’s footsteps and, in addition to Camp Perry and Connaught, we will return to provincial shooting at Camp Borden, for which we are grateful to the ORA. Our team, which represents all four of the “home nations” and aims in part to help GB prepare for next year’s World Long Range Rifle Championships, contains such a broad spread of experience that its members’ ages cover every decade from teenager to septuagenarian, with all but one decade featuring among the eight new caps. I offer them my congratulations on their richly deserved selection.
Although each team member will fire well over 500 rounds as an individual, the key moments on tour will be our seven team matches: the ORA International at Borden, the Commodore Perry and Mini-Palma matches at Camp Perry and the Outlander, Canada and Commonwealth matches at DCRA as well as the climactic America Match, to be held this year at Connaught. We expect some very stiff competition and equally friendly rivalry. Whatever the results, we will be pleased with the tour if we all learn something, refresh old friendships, make some new ones and prove to be successful ambassadors for GB shooting.
My sincere thanks go to Vice-Captain Jane Messer and Adjutant Martin Whicher for all their hard work, and also to all the team members who have committed time and energy not just to training but also to fund raising, firearms permits, brochure, website and all the other jobs before and on tour that are essential to a successful touring team. We are all grateful to our sponsors, advertisers and the NRA Overseas Teams Fund, to team members’ families and partners for their understanding and support and, most of all, to our Canadian and American hosts. We look forward to welcoming them when they next come to shoot in Great Britain.