08/10 President's Day 1

Lightning caused some frustrating delays
Before one of our teams won much praise
For going clean in the shoot,
And the day closed to boot
With more fireworks after the flag-raise.

Saturday brought the first day of real competition with the Provincial’s team match and the first two ranges of the President’s individual competition.  Given this and the sunny conditions the team had enjoyed on their day off, it was perhaps no surprise that the 0630 departure was made under darkening clouds and claps of thunder.   Notwithstanding the locals’ clear hint that ‘this morning just wasn’t going to happen’, the team dutifully worked through their warm up routine and Webbie delivered a firm missive as to the importance of the forthcoming matches.

As if stirred by this call to arms, the rain descended just as we were wrapping up our warm up and briefing.  And boy did it rain. Thick, wet, get right through to your underwear rain came sheeting down accompanied by thunder and lightning flashes.  Officially, though, the Provincial team match was still on, so out we dutifully trotted (or drove) for the target draw.  Upon arrival we were told that, unsurprisingly, the start was delayed for an hour.  Back to the very welcoming Natives hut we went. An hour later we repeated this routine. And once again an hour later. 

Finally, however, the thunder storm and rain had moved on enough for the match to start.  The course of fire had been modified from 2 sighters and 15 to count at each of 300 and 500 yards to 2 sighters and 10 to count twice at 300 yards.  All good practice for the Australia match we thought, though some of the target coaches might have found life a little easier if they’d been able to concentrate on the coaching and not been required to shoot and coach and coach some more and then shoot again.   

Not so the indefatigable Jane Messer. Having (with her able and willing assistants) organised the first proper ‘breakfast on the range’, Jane then led her target to a perfect score of 600 ex 600 over the modified course of fire.  Unsurprisingly this sterling performance meant that Jane’s team won the Provincial tam match.  Second went to an Australian Palma team target and third to Matt Charlton’s target team.

With the weather improving all day we were back out at 300 yards in the afternoon for the start of the President’s individual matches.  This marks the start of the grand aggregate here in Brisbane, so unlike many national championships there was no individual warm up for the team to use to help become accustomed to the range conditions.  Brushing past this apparent hurdle, Gaz Morris (with a 50.9 at 300 yards) and Chris Watson (with a 50.10 at 500 yards) showed that today was shaping up to be a day for the Welsh.  With a certain ex-Welsh Canadian sidling up and down the range with a Welsh rugby top and a massive smile on it was hard for anyone to avoid hearing the result of the most exciting rugby World Cup quarter-final. 

Shooting over and consolations delivered to the Irish, the team dashed back to the hotel to unpack the wet kit and change before heading back out to the range for the official opening ceremony and a meet and greet dinner. 

Dinner was both remarkably good and impressively quickly delivered.  Much credit is due to the staff and organisers who put this and so ensured that all the attendees were fed (and of course properly re-hydrated) in time for the opening ceremony. 

This ceremony consisted of the customary opening remarks and raising the flags of the competing nations – Australia, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States of America.  Happily our esteemed Captain seemed to have this routine covered despite having missed the rehearsal and damaged his foot the day before.  This was followed by a spectacular fireworks display, the conclusion to which went on in impressive fashion for far longer than any of us expected.

Wrapping up our meeting and greeting, the team returned to the hotel for bed ahead of another early start on Sunday.