08.08.10 Homestead Range

After a few days - and nights - spent in idle frivolity, as reflected in recent editions of this diary, the tone of the day was set by the determined expression on the face of the captain after she had completed her breakfast. Today’s plan was for a team match at Homestead Range, with three GB teams and one Alberta team, of five shooters plus coach, competing at short and long range.

The captain’s good humour was tested somewhat when two team vehicles set off to the range before she had had the opportunity to stiffen everyone’s resolve with a team meeting, the aim of which was to emphasise that performances in today’s match would be taken as a serious trial for the match selections in Ottawa.

The one hour drive to Homestead took us past the jagged ridges and pinnacles surrounding Banff, and down into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains on the road to Calgary. The lack of bear sightings during the tour has induced a state of paranoia in some circles, with domestic cattle now being identified, in desperation, as bears.

On arrival at the range we were welcomed by Frank Lalear, Henry Rempol, Peter Redstone, Peter Papasideris, past Queens Prize runner-up, and introduced to the other Alberta shooters, a number of whom were shooting F Class alongside us – and who very kindly also did most of our marking for us.

Unfortunately the skies were darkening and light rain came and went through the first two ranges, 400m and 600m. The three GB teams were as follows: the Captain’s team, coached by the captain; the Vice-Captain’s team, coached by Dom Harvey, and the Adjutant’s team, coached by Martin Townsend.

After 600m two of the teams had dropped three points, and the Adjutant’s team only two. At 800m a diversion was caused by a small bird which decided not only to fly right in front of the firing point during the shooting, but also to land on a shooter’s barrel for a short rest, much to the latter’s confusion. Your correspondent is not sure that this eventuality is provided for in the ‘45 seconds’ rule, whether under DCRA or ICFRA rules, but the shooter refrained from firing for the bid’s safety and it few away unharmed. After 800m the scores remained close, but, as is invariably the case, it was 900m which provided the sternest test for both shooters and coaches. By the end the Captain’s team proved to be in the lead with 991 points ex 1,000, with the Vice’s team on 987 and the Adjutant’s team third with 985. The Alberta team scored 905 (full results).

The highlight of the individual performances was the only highest possible score of the day, 200.23, coached by Martin Townsend, and shot by Alex Bryson, at 18, the youngest member of the team. Highest scorers in the other teams were Bruce Roth, 199.23 (after starting the long range with shots on the target adjacent to his (and at which he had been aiming), following damage to his foresight), and Nigel Ball, 198.27. As Bruce observed, the individual performances were dominated by Wellington College, with a former pupil and two members of staff topping the list for their respective teams.

Following the match the sky brightened and, in glorious sunshine, Frank Lalear presented prizes and the Captain thanked our hosts with some reciprocal presentations, including a team photograph to add alongside the 1998 GB team photograph already on the clubhouse wall. The team was then entertained by the Alberta shooters to a barbeque consisting of delicious steaks and salads, washed down with Canadian beer and followed by home baked cakes and cookies. As clouds gathered again and the heavens opened, we were all heading back down the dirt road and back to Banff. Meanwhile, Frank and Peter were preparing for the three day drive across the Prairies to Ottawa, laden down with the team’s excess baggage. Many thanks to Frank and Peter – we will think of you as we fly over on Tuesday!