16/10 WILRC Day 1

The Worlds started in blistering heat.
Paul Sykes leads - a remarkable feat
Of beating wind and sun;
Then our hosts' sense of fun
Saw rugby dominate 'Meet & Greet'.

Day 1 of the World Individual Long Range Championships took place on a flaming hot and almost cloudless day which saw many different wind conditions, starting with left wind in the morning before moving to a stronger right wind by the end of the day. As on previous days, wind brackets depended heavily on the time of shooting, with the most variable winds tending to strike around lunchtime.

The 900 yards shoot kicked off at 08:30 in the strong morning sunshine and with a warning from the chief range office to those not familiar with the strength of the Australian sun; cover up, use sunscreen and drink plenty of water! In the relatively moderate winds, scoring was fairly high. Abraham van Niekerk from South Africa took gold with a 75.11, counting out three others on the same score. Top GB shooter was Paul Sykes who manage a solid 75.8 to start off a superb day’s shooting.

After lunch at 1000 yards, things were looking quite a bit tricker. The first shooters after lunch, in particular, got something of a raw deal; however conditions did ease slightly later on in the range. Paul Sykes continued his run of good form to take the top slot with a 75.11, with Chris Watson also managing to clean the range on 75.3. Paul also top scored on the day, being the only shooter not to drop a point; however owing to the split of ranges, the stage 1 aggregate would not be decided until the completion of 800 yards the following day.

With the shooting over, teams headed off to change into number 1s for the reception and captains’ presentations; however one absolutely critical item remained before the evening’s event could kick off. The rugby. With Australia facing off against rugby World Cup hosts, New Zealand, there was no possibility that anything would happen before the final whistle. Having watched the first half over dinner back at the hotel, Team GB drove briskly to the range to catch the second half at the QRA with the other teams.

Back at the QRA, a large flatscreen TV had been laid on in the main area and was surrounded by many enthralled Kiwis, Aussies and other nationalities. As the saying goes – “When in Rome” – so GB pulled up some chairs and watched the triumph of All Black inevitability over the Wallabies. With the rugby over, the captains’ presentation began. Leading off, the Palma Team Captains presented each other, the QRA and other dignitaries with small tokens of esteem to remember the occasion by. Among the more memorable gift given were bottles of Cloudy Bay sauvignon blanc by New Zealand and traditionally made kitchen knives by the Japanese Goodwill Team. With the Palma teams complete, the stage was given over to the Veterans and Under 25s before the evening wound up.