Waking at various times, depending on how tolerant their body clocks were, members of the team spent the morning and afternoon preparing for the week’s shooting ahead. As there was no way of washing clothes at the hotel, this meant heading to the range, in order to take advantage of the facilities there.
Connaught Ranges are a primary training facility for both the Canadian military and its cadets. Backing onto the Ottawa River, the range complex has echoes of Bisley Camp, with a mixture of old wooden buildings and newer, prefab structures. Accommodation on camp is predominantly tent-based, which is fine in temperate weather but becomes unbearable at extremes of temperature or precipitation. Fortunately for GBRT, unlike the British Athelings (Cadet) Rifle Team, there was no need to worry about canvas lodgings.
GBRT’s home at Connaught, kindly provided by the Canadians, is one of the classrooms on the complex. Fully air conditioned and well-equipped with chairs, tables and fridges, this is to be our home for the remainder of the tour. The classroom is conveniently located within walking distance of most of the ranges, which are laid out somewhat differently from Bisley: the 500 and 600 yard range, the 800 and 900 metre range, and the 300 metre range are all constructed side by side, separated by tall berms, which allow shooting to occur simultaneously on all ranges.
The team assembled on the range mid-afternoon, with Matt Charlton and Ellie Joseph having kindly done the initial food shop. Matt Charlton then took the team on a walking tour of the range, pointing out the idiosyncrasies that make wind reading here much different from Bisley: flag poles are thicker, meaning that flags will not stir at lower winds, the flags themselves are lighter than Bisley flags and, finally, the berms shelter the targets nearest to them, when the wind is coming from that direction, but also cause eddies and other strange effects. Thoroughly enlightened/confused, the team returned to the classroom, in order to prepare for their first shoot, The Ottawa Regiment.
The Ottawa Regiment consisted of 2 sighters and 15 shots to count at 800 metres (874.891 yards), and was scheduled to start at 1830. However, due to ongoing delays from earlier in the day, the match did not start until gone 1900, by which time the light had well and truly started to fade. In addition to this, light rain had started, accompanied by a reasonably challenging wind and no mirage, which made the shoot a tough start to the DCRA Fullbore Championships. In spite of this, Graham Nelson (75.10), Lindsay Peden (75.9), Rory MacLeod (75.7), James Mehta (75.7), Mike Barlow (75.4) and Charles Dickenson (75.3) all managed possibles. Unfortunately for Graham, despite his strong performance, two other shooters also made the same score and so a tie shoot is scheduled for later on in the week.
Damp and tired, the team returned to East Side Mario’s for another Canadian-Italian fusion meal, before hitting the hay. The DCRA Grand Aggregate does not start until Sunday afternoon, which allows the team another day and a half of warm-up shoots to settle in and calculate their zeroes.
Lollipop awards (Day 16):
Good – Ellie Joseph and Matt Charlton, for doing the first team food shop.
Bad – Graham Nelson, for panicking that he had misplaced his ammunition shortly before a shoot, only to discover it exactly where he had put it: ready on the firing point.