09/10 President's Day 2

While a quick burn befell sunscreen flouters
The Wallabies silenced the doubters
And we learned in the sun,
With the wind causing 'fun',
Bisley inners can be ICFRA outers!

With the sun shining and Saturday’s damp disappointment behind us, the team rose again in time for the 0630 departure for the range.  Today offered four further ranges in the President’s individual competition – 2 sighters and ten to count at each of 600, 800, 900 and 1000 yards.  Without doubt it would be a day that offered significant challenges in terms of the art of string shooting and of course mastering the Belmont wind conditions.  For a squad that had so far focussed much more on team shooting than individual shooting nor shot in much more than gloom and rain, there were few that thought that a day shooting long range in the sun would be fun all round.

And so it proved.  Although 600 yards yielded a range of good scores, the move back to 800 yards was more challenging, notwithstanding the large bullseye.  A prevailing right wind changed rapidly in strength and angle in a way that defied the dogged attempts by some to shoot through it Bisley-style.  More success was had by those who’d adapted to the string shooting methodology of picking a patch (or prevailing condition) and then going for it quickly.   Even this, however, proved difficult as we moved back to 900 yards.   Whether it was the smaller bullseye, the more challenging conditions or just what we had for lunch, none of the team managed a possible at 900 yards.  Even on his birthday, Ross was ‘blessed’ with an outer.  The luck of the Irish seems to have been in short supply this weekend.  

1000 yards proved similarly hard with widely varying results across the range. Scores of 42 and 49 from shooters with similar squadding times were far from uncommon as we contended with a wind that came from the bottom right corner of the range – the same sort of wind that our Chief Coach had described as ‘just impossible’ earlier in the week.  Difficult yes, impossible no, for there were clearly some who could master this sort of angling, changeable wind, including our own Nigel Ball and Kelvin Ramsey.  Inners, magpies and outers, it was certainly a fun afternoon’s shooting. Well, perhaps not the outers.   

Shooting over the team gathered at the Natives clubhouse for a de-brief.  The scores on the (very public) scoreboard revealed that it had undeniably been a tough day. Most agreed that the challenge of string shooting was much more than just knowing what wind to put on when firing but also involved knowing what wind just not to fire in.  Kelvin turned out to be the team’s top man having dropped a mere 3 points over the weekend.  His 49.0 at 900 yards was given as a particular example of getting the most points possible in challenging conditions. Kelvin, in his best Surrey accent, of course denied any suggestion that his previous meetings here could possibly have made him a quasi-local!

Following on from Webbie’s announcements and instructions at the end of the day, we took a brief moment to sing Happy Birthday to Ross (and help him eat his birthday cake) before heading over to the prize giving.  Clearly the day had been one where knowledge of the local conditions and experience of string shooting had played a significant role but the prize giving revealed the full extent and calibre of the competition – only four of the GB team made the top 35 in the President’s individual competitions.   Coupled with the range of useful shooting goods offered as prizes – enough for one team member (whose outers were all apparently down to shooting errors rather than wind reading mistakes) to comment that ‘he might start trying’ – this certainly highlighted the work to be done.   The members of our team making the prize list were Kelvin Ramsey (10th with 297), Jane Messer and Nigel Ball (13th and 15th with 296) and Jon Underwood (20th with 295). 

Prizes awarded (and a bit of meet and greet follow up finished aka watching the final rugby World Cup quarter final), the team returned to the hotel for another rip-snorter of an evening pushing ammunition, coaches’ meetings and match practice preparation enlivened by the arrival of the no-longer quite so British Stuart Collings.  Our top undercover agent Tremlett has been sent to investigate whether Stuart has defected to Australia in full or is simply here to help plot England’s Elcho tactics for next year.