Saturday – Commonwealth Match and Governor General’s Final.
Another sunny day on Connaught ranges and all GBRT were involved in this morning’s Commonwealth Match, shot over 800m and 900m, our furthest distances, with a team of 12 firers across three targets, each with a target coach (the other diarist, Derek Lowe, Graham Nelson and Jon Underwood) and a main coach (Martin Townsend).
We settled down on our drawn targets, 51-53, only to find a gaggle of geese (Canadian of course) merrily parked on the 700m firing point. They were completely unfazed by our presence and the sharp objects whizzing over their heads, preferring to rise occasionally to eat the grass and even stretch their wings. This diarist had a head move through his foresight at least once when on aim and it was not until midway through the 800m shoot when they finally took off and flew away.
Anyway, back to the matter at hand. The wind at 800m was certainly challenging with several stops required to wait out the gusts or the moves through zero, requiring shooters to fire quickly when there was a steadier drift. In all the bracket across this range was half a minute right to 4 minutes left. At the end of the range, GBRT were 7 off although at this point they were behind the USA (3 off) and Canada (4 off). Those three inners in a row looked costly.
So, back to 900m and a rousing talk from the Captain to ensure shooters focused on letting off good shots and the coaches made the most of the steadier periods. No geese (good start) and a trickier wind (2 minutes right to over 4 minutes left) meant more periods of wait, especially for the first and third shooters on each target. GBRT started to claw back some points and by the last three firers, it was looking pretty tight across the three teams. A strong finish of three 50s (one with 4 V-bulls and two with 7 V-bulls) meant the team ended up on 1182.128, 18 points off, and were on tenterhooks for the final results from further up the range. News filtered across that Canada were 19 off (124 V bulls) and USA were 17 off with two scores still to come. Finally the full results were in and USA also ended up 19 off, (with 116 V bulls). GBRT had won it, in the closest of finishes. Cue much celebration and the Captain having to rethink his team speech!
A very swift lunch then before the photo for the Governor General’s Final (which featured 11 GBRT members out of the 50 participants). The final is shot over 800m and 900m, with fifteen shots to count like the Queen’s Final, with the Presidents score (like Queens 2) carried through as the starting position.
The wind at 800m continued its fish tailing, albeit more from the left now but still moving through zero, with a bracket of 4 minutes left to 2 right. The GBRT shooters performed well in these conditions, with Calvert, Crispin and Russell all scoring 74, although the leader after the President, the USA’s Brandon Green, posted one of only three 75s to ensure he led at halfway, with one point off. His compatriot Ben Cleland was 2 off, with Calvert and Lowe amongst the 3 offs.
A short wait to reflect on the final range whilst the Canadians completed their selection process for next year’s Bisley team enabled some team members (your diarist included) to hone their skills on the USA team’s “corn hole” game (essentially throwing bean bags into small holes). Let’s just say the Adj needs more practice …
900m was, for once, a bit more straightforward, with wind between 3.5 minutes and six minutes, consistently from the left finally. The Captain led the way with a fine 75.3, one of only three on the range. A couple of points dropped by Brandon Green made it interesting but with a hugely impressive 40 V bulls he was able to hold off team mate Ben Cleland who also scored 297 (3 off) but with 30 V bulls. Top for GBRT was the Captain in 9th position.
After the traditional chairing off the range, the team dashed back to the hotel to change into “Number 1”s for prize giving and the dedication of the DCRA building to the memory of Jim Thompson. It should be noted that Brandon Green was presented with his main prize, a lollipop from the Adj, prior to the official prize giving.
Tomorrow brings our final day on the range and the America Match – a team of 8 shooters, with 2 target coaches and a main coach, firing 15 shots at each of 300 yards, 600 yards, 800 and 900 metres, making this the second most arduous competition in our sport, after the Palma match. Weather is currently expected to be unsettled. Live score sheets will be in the usual places.