13/10 Queen's Day 2

Real livestock auctioneer was on hand
For a sale of some prize bullshots and
Dobbing session where Ringer
Was put through the wringer
Before Lucky was sold for a grand!

With the weather service here in Australia reporting (to the significant proportion of the team who have 3G-enabled iPads at least) a 40% chance of rain in the morning and a 70-80% chance of rain in the afternoon, there was much evidence of wet-weather gear in the team’s vans on the way out in the morning. It was certainly overcast and slightly muggy on the way to the range and during breakfast, but there were breaks in the clouds by the time the team headed out onto the range. Day 2 of the Queen’s series here in Belmont consists of two sighting shots and ten shots to count at 600, 800 and 900 yards on tight ICFRA targets; although the difficulty of the targets is offset by shooters being able to use handloaded ammunition with ballistically-efficient bullets, which are not generally allowed in UK competitions.

Kicking off at 600 yards at 08:30 in the morning, left winds continued to prevail with the strength moving from as low as ½ a minute up to about 4 minutes. The overcast cloud broke up significantly during the detail and the heat of the southern sun started to make its presence felt. Ross McQuillan was GB’s top scorer with a solid 50.8, a single vee behind USA Palma’s John Whidden. With all ten shooters in the relay complete, the whole field decamped back at 800. Often thought of as being the easiest range owing to the same targets being used as at 900 and 1000, the strengthening and increasingly erratic winds made for some difficult shooting at times. Certainly, there were plenty of inners coming up, and not a few magpies. Top honours went to Petrus Haasbroek of South Africa with a 50.8. David Luckman’s 50.8 was beaten back into third on countback.

With no sign of rain by the lunchtime break, everyone headed off the range back to the clubhouse for lunch. A few early finishers who had already eaten were observed having a postprandial nap, and of course photographed for posterity (see website’s photo section for details.)  Suitably refreshed, Team GB headed out for the final shoot of the day at 900 yards; however in the distance it looked like some bad weather was brewing. At the start of the relay, the stiff winds that shooters had previously experienced continued; however in the later details the strength eased off but there were still some surprises out there for the unwary. The dark clouds in the distance held off just about long enough for everyone to complete their shoots and head back to the Natives before the heavens opened. Colin Cole of Australia took the top slot with the only 50.9 (converting his 5V sighters, no less.) GB’s Toby Raincock shot a tidy 50.7 for 7th place.

With Team GB’s planned dinner at the range canteen after the prizegiving, the vans headed over to the QRA through the pouring rain. At the end of the day and the second stage of the Queen’s only Norm Anderson of USA Palma was the only shooter clean. The chasing pack was led by David Luckman on 299.40, ahead of another 8 scores of 299. 12 of the team made the top 50 moving into tomorrow’s final at 900 and 1000 yards, with Gaz Morris edged out into 51st by a single vee bull. Although the prizes had been awarded, there was more entertainment in the form of publicly-enforced fines for transgressors (including GB’s Ant Ringer three times, and Martin Townsend) who had committed particularly egregious crimes during the past few days of competition. The final event of the evening was a “Calcutta”, during which each of the top ten shooters in the Queen’s Prize to date would be auctioned, with the owner of the shooter winning the prize taking 50% of the pot and the owner of the second placed shooter taking 25%. The remaining 25% goes towards the Australian Under 25 Team, along with the fines collected earlier.

After a packed day, all of the team were glad to get to a good dinner in the QRA Canteen before heading home to prepare for the final stage of the Queen’s Prize tomorrow. With bad weather forecast for tomorrow, there is all to play for.