Wednesday saw the earliest scheduled start to individual shooting, 0745 for the Jack Mitchley at 300m, followed by the President Cup at 800m and 900m, all in the morning. Today’s diarist was glad of a slightly later start, being squadded on the second detail, but invited the (thankfully unnamed) admonition of chief range officer, Brig Gen McG Alexander, for raising dust on the range road.
With an economy of words, General Mac brings a clear authority to the range – a reassuring influence over the shooter’s day for more than 20 years at the SABU meeting, beginning each day with a scripture reading & prayer and inviting us to competitions of “twey tile-barrer proof-squirter und teen squirter” (to the uninitiated, that’s “two convertible sighting shots and ten shots to count”). A “squirter” does not remind us of high powered water pistols.
Heading towards the end of the Grand Aggregate, we see GBRT members in 6 out of the top 10 positions, with David Luckman in the lead by one point (but down one V-bull) from “Tony” Raincock, who is 6 Vs ahead of Nigel Ball in 3rd place.
A rather short lunch break led into the second of the three major international matches of this tour: the RSA International, for 12 shooters plus attendant wind coaches etc at 800m and 900m. Look at the results page of our website for detail on all the teams.
In common with the longer ranges in the Australia Match on Monday, shooting at 800m in the early afternoon required very active management of our available range time, where a key skill is judging when not to shoot (because of difficult wind). In such conditions, a team can run very close to the end of the time allowance, so, once shooting resumes after a wait, the ability to fire a fast stream of good shots tests the shooters and coaches alike. GB finished 800m just two points ahead of South Africa and a further nine ahead of Australia – both small margins for a team of 12 firing 15 shots at each distance in a long range match.
Conditions at 900m were steadier, such that the stops consumed less of the allowed time. No urgent counting down on a stopwatch was required at this range. GB beat Australia by five points at 900m, and South Africa by six. The final result saw GB win the RSA International match by eight points from South Africa and 16 from Australia.
Delighted (and, perhaps, relieved), GB finished the day looking forward to two further days of individual shooting and then the most prominent international match in the typical South African calendar: the Protea Match on Saturday morning.