20.08.10 DCRA Day 8

This morning’s competition, the Gatineau (2+15 at 900m), was the last one in the MacDonald Stewart Grand Aggregate. The majority of the team were on the third detail starting at 0934, with only the Main Coach on the first detail at 0800, and Dom Harvey on the second detail, so most welcomed the opportunity for a rare lie in.

Arriving at the range in bright sunshine, David Luckman was disappointed to see the flags hanging limply by the side of the flagpoles, indicating that the task of catching up the 2 points and 6 Vs he was adrift of Grand leader Kent Reeve of the USA was unlikely to be achievable.

The flagpoles at the Connaught ranges are what we would recognise as telegraph poles, and are fat enough to prevent the flags lifting until about 4 minutes of wind (900m) is present. Fortunately the mirage was strong, giving good clues as to the strength and direction of the variable fishtailing wind, but also seeming to play tricks with sight pictures as many of the team, used to holding ½ minute groups, struggled to maintain groups much smaller than the 2+ minute diameter bull. In all, only 10 people managed a 75 in what appeared to be relatively easy conditions, with Bruce Roth our only man with a possible in 10th place with 75.2.

Even Grand leader Kent Reeve only managed a 74.8, while David Luckman joined the majority of the team on a 73 (with 7 Vs in his case). This was, nevertheless, sufficient to secure second place and the Silver Medal in the Grand Agg on 724.94 (ex 730.146), 3 points behind winner Kent Reeve. David Armstrong had a 73.6 for 722.88, which was enough to keep him in third place.

Overall, the team had 11 members in the top 25, the others being Steven Thomas (7th), John Deane (8th), Paul Sykes (12th), Gary Alexander (13th), Henry Day (14th), Jane Messer (15th – that cross shot costing her 3rd place), Nigel Ball (20th), Peter Griggs (21st) and Alex Bryson (24th), with Kitty Jack just missing the top 25 by one V.

Amongst the other aggregates resolved today, Alex Bryson won the Russell G Potter Memorial, the Harrison and the Cadet/Junior Open Target Rifle Championship, while the Captain won the Tess Spencer for ladies in the Grand Aggregate, with Kitty Jack third and Steph Ward 8th. David Luckman was second in the Polar Bear Aggregate behind Kent Reeve, with David Armstrong 4th. The Victoria Rifles of Canada (teams concurrent with the long range competitions), was won by the LMRA Red team (Ball, Luckman, Sykes & Armstrong) by 3 points from the NLRC Red team, with LMRA Blue team 3 points further back in 3rd place.

The afternoon’s event was the first of the big three matches to which the team has been building: The Commonwealth Match, equivalent to our Mackinnon (international teams of 12 shooters, 2+10 at 800m & 900m). After a team brief and pep talk by Jane and the Match Captain (Nigel Ball), the whole team moved out onto the range to pitch battle against the host Canadians and the visiting USA team. In bright sunshine, the winds remained similar to the morning, light and variable, with the mirage giving often the only indication of strength and direction.

After 800m, GB were 9 off, with Canada hot on our heels on 12 off and USA just a further point behind. In the interval between the two ranges, the Match Captain provided more motivation, stressing the closeness of the match, and the team redoubled their efforts. The winds got no easier as the match progressed, and by the time the last three GB shooters got down it was clear that nothing short of 3 possibles was going to secure the match. Paul Sykes, Kitty Jack and Gary Alexander and the coaches duly rose to the challenge and delivered just that, to give the team a score of 1173.112. The Match Captain then nearly had a heart attack when a total of 1175 appeared on the Canadian scoreboard. Fortunately this proved to be a mathematical error, and the correct score of 1171.113 was eventually recorded. The USA had had a few problems at 900m and ended up in third place on 1167.98.

Celebrations were somewhat muted as the Canada match (Kolapore conditions: teams of 8, 10 shots at 300, 500 & 600 yds) starts at 0800 tomorrow. After announcement of the team, the team nevertheless dispersed to various locations for supper with a definite spring in their step.