Saturday 8th August

It’s finally time for the World Long Range Championships. As is traditional for these championships, the opening ceremony gives a chance for all the competitors to gather, raise the national flags and hear the anthems. So under clearing cloud cover and a steadily rising sun, the team rolled out to the ranges.

Normally on any given day this tour, Toby is never too far away from his treasured GoPro camera. Today unfortunately was an exception – we all wondered how he could cope without taking selfies at the drop of a hat. Where could it be? Perhaps it was back in the house with his watches and sunglasses? Nope… It was 12,000 feet above the range attached to Sherri Gallagher’s helmet in an aircraft full of the US Army’s Golden Knights parachute display team.

High above us as we sat on the rickety set of bleachers, we saw a tiny black dot coming out of the aircraft (this is not a comment on Sherri’s size, she was just a long way up). Trailing smoke from her feet, she performed an excellent jump and landed bang on the aiming mark. Vee bull! Quickly out of her jump gear, she took to the microphone to commentate on the formation jump being made by her teammates above.  The Golden Knights put on an entertaining and highly professional display; a fantastic and spectacular opening to our championships.

Next up was the raising of the flags. Henry and Tom D had been chosen as our flag team and we were confident that they wouldn’t let us down having attended the briefing the previous day. Highlights of that briefing included “The flags will be in alphabetical order, so the United States goes first then Australia…”. Henry and Tom didn’t disappoint and even managed to get our flag the correct way up, better than can be said for a certain international governing body – let’s hope it’s not a sign of distress. The anthems provided a great moment for nations to show their reverence, respect and pride in their nation. Japan touchingly sung to their anthem and we Brits were stirred by the sight of our nation’s flag billowing in the wind.

This afternoon we tackled the now quite fiery winds on the range as we fired the first of the nine world long-range championship shoots, starting with 800 yards. That said, the 800 yards target is more forgiving than those at 900 and 1000 on account of it being the same size (though different subtended angles between scoring rings) so hopefully any tricky wind would get you in the bull rather than drop you points. Come the day’s end it was apparent that high vees were needed to be at the top with John Whidden taking 75.14 ahead of David Luckman on 75.13.

Tonight we dine on camp for the official Palma Dinner – may there be good food, good drinks and good friends old and new.