The Goal

The Goal

Monday, 27 July 2015

WLRC 2019 at Trentham - Promotional Video

My good friend Tony Sultana posted this on Youtube yesterday. It's a promotional video for the 2019 World Long Range Champs to be held on the Seddon Range in Trentham. You may recognise one of the interviewees...

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Imperial 2015 Retrospective - The Compleat Shooter

We finally made it back home to Auckland after 30 hours of travel by car and plane; although the after effects of the time difference are going to take a few days to shake off. Was such an effort to come over to the UK and shoot at Bisley worth it? The answer is a complete and unreserved "yes". If there's anything which would make me move back to the UK from NZ then Bisley is it.

It was a good meeting which tested most of a rifle shooter's skills: the wind was tough on some days, particularly on Final Saturday, with major changes in strength and angle requiring bold decision making; we enjoyed both hot weather as well as a couple of days with some light rain during shooting hours; and to do well during the Imperial Meeting always requires strong marksmanships skills over mere luck. Winning, rather than merely doing well, requires the shooter to have mastered all of these skills and more.

On the shooting front, I pretty much managed to hit most of my goals. I had wanted to make the top 25 in each of the three Bisley Majors and earn myself another shooting slot on the GB Team for the Kolapore Cup. Despite having borrowed a rifle (loaned to me by my 2014 CWG pardner, who also shot very well, and very close in configuration to my own gun) I was delighted to make 5th in the Grand Agg, 15th in the St. George's and 19th in Her Majesty the Queen's Prize. Getting to shoot in my third Kolapore, coached by the ever-superb MJE, was a real vindication of my return to form after a fairly mediocre 2014 season. I even managed to pick up a couple of pots.

2015 Grand Agg Leaderboard. Reproduced with the kind permission of Glyn Barnett GC3 SC3 GM2 etc... etc...

It wasn't just me who was shooting well either: GCDB put in a stunning performance to win the Grand, having started the week not even on the bottom of the leader board. DC won the St. George's Challenge Vase and his second Queen's Prize with some really superb long-range shooting in difficult conditions, with changes of up to 6 minutes.

Glyn Barnett. The man, the hairstyle, the legend...

On the social front, Katrina and the kids got to have a lot of fun with the ever-expanding horde of shooters' offspring charging around camp. I spent a very great deal of time apologising to people for not being able to catch up with them properly as I charged off to another shoot, another barbecue, another thing I needed to organise, but there was still time to hang around at the legendary social hub of Bisley chez Watson on the way to and from my van from and to Century Range. We also managed to have a few people round our place for food and drinks.

Dinner and drinks at the Morris country estate.

The only real downside was that I didn't get to blog as much as I would have liked, but after mid-Tuesday it all gets too busy, with increasing numbers of shoots and events. That's OK though, this blog isn't really meant to be about my shooting so much as to talk about stuff that I've learned which might be useful for you.

So, dear reader, what do I have planned for the next few months? I'm going to talk some more about SCATT at some point; I've had some really good ideas on windreading and wind strategy; plus I'd like to write about the differences between shooting in pairs or threes and string shooting. I hope you'll enjoy reading which I've got to say, and please never be shy to ask me a question, talk about your experiences, or tell me if you think I've got it wrong.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Imperial Meeting 2015, Day 5 - Seize the Opportunity

After a pleasant evening at the Canadian Team reception at Canada House, I was rather looking forward to a bit of a lie in as the result of a leisurely 11:45am start in The Times competition at 300x. Or, rather, I was looking forward to the lie in until another shooter who had been on the receiving end of a crap day gleefully informed me that it was going to blow a hoolie starting from 14:00 in the afternoon. Not what you want to hear when you have a 16:30 Corporation.

Either way, I had a great shoot in The Times even if I didn't have a particularly good score (49.9) at least partially because I'd never really managed to track down what my wind zero should be on the borrowed rifle. Still a nine vee bull finish after an inner first to count was quite pleasing. Less so was the minor train wreck I enjoyed at 600x. I dropped two of my last three shots to an increasingly tricky wind. True, the two gentlemen I was shooting with did pause for about three minutes to have a prolonged conflab about whose turn it was and who had last fired, during which time the wind did as it damn well pleased. This isn't really the point, however, as it is up to you (or me, in this case) to keep up with the wind, make the correction and fire the shot. I was rather disappointed with the 48.4 which followed.

Having dropped three points on the day already, I was not really looking forward to the Corporation. Two sighters and ten shots to count fired at the longest distance of 1000 yards, The Corporation of the City of London competition has been the nemesis of many a Grand Aggregate score. I resolved simply fire good rapid shots, make the best wind calls I was able and avoid shooting on gusts. Having a good marker, a good firing point and only a single companion on the target, I was clearly being handed an opportunity by providence to make up for the tricky winds, which were running about 10 - 14.5 left with significant drop offs. I shot well, shot sensibly fast and avoided missing the black for a very pleasing 48.8 to leave myself 5 down for the day.

Happy with having only dropped to 6th on the board, I got an early night. St. George's I tomorrow, and a chance to put in a good score and maintain position.

Imperial Meeting 2015, Day 4 - Don't Shoot at the Extremes

This morning started out quite calm and much cooler than the past couple of days; however the wind had still managed to pick up by the time the 08:30 detail of the Alexandra kicked off this morning. Unfortunately I seemed to be slightly slower off the mark when picking up the wind and lost a shot early on to end up with a 49.3 despite the generally positive feel of the shoot. Off the range, the wind had felt almost as blustery as the day before, but based on my plot things appeared to have calmed down significantly from yesterday's tempest.

Moving briskly off to the long range for the Duke of cambridge (it feels odd that we now have an actual Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, having managed quite succesfully without either since the last one died without issue quite a while ago) a similar pattern emerged. The wind was fairly steady, but I still managed to lose a shot just out the right hand side early on in the shoot while I was working out the bracket. Still, a 49 at long range in the Grand is a sensible score to add to any campaign. It's all too easy to lose a few more than you should on Stickledown, particularly when it's tricky.

My final shoot of the day was at 500 yards in the Daily Mail, where the winds were beginning to shift around a bit; although they remained solidly from the left, so there would be no need to come back through zero. In the event, having spoken to a fellow Welsh shooter I avoided shooting on the peaks and troughs, cutting my wind bracket down significantly. Aside from a slightly iffy last shot which crept just under the vee bull it was a pretty good shoot. A 75.12 to add to the bag. Not enough to win, but the full house of 75 points was very welcome.

At the end of the day, I was slightly surprised but rather pleased to be as high as 2nd on the Grand Agg board.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Imperial Meeting 2015, Day 3 - Wait, it gets worse!

Collecting your cards is one of the delights of the Imperial Meeting. Opening your A4 envelope of joy and pasting the stickers on to your cards is a little ritual that I'm hoping many other TR shooters find as pleasurable as I do. That said, probably the first thing I do is skim through the timings of the shoots, paying particular reference to the timings of the long range shoots. So it was with some delight that I saw I had bagged an 08:30 detail in the Lovell 1000 yards match and it was with visions of impeccable 50s that I trotted out to the range this morning; however I was again to be confronted with a difficult wind, shifting in strength but also angle. I had just about kept up for the first half of the shoot, dropping only a single point, but it couldn't last and 4, 4, 3 for shots 7 through 9 left me facing the thick end of a 45.4 even if I did manage a central V for my final shot. Bugger!

The trend of difficult winds continued throughout the day, with a lot of quality shooters getting hammered in the Lovell (1000x) and the Daily Telegraph (500x), and dropping more than normal in the Donegall (300x). Personally, I needed an extra sighter in the Donegall to finish my morning's shooting with a 49.7, which I found faintly disappointing even despite the taxing winds.

As I wasn't going to be back on the range until 17:00, I made the most of the break and spent some time with the kids, and had lunch round at a friend's van. A 20 minute power nap also seemed like a good idea, to try and break the last of the jetlag (I flew in from a work project Montana, rather than directly from Auckland so it has not actually been too bad.)

The final shoot of the day was the Daily Telegraph. Two sighters and fifteen shots to count at 500 yards in apparently blustery and variable winds. There had already been horror stories from one or two eminently skilled shots; however there's no point worrying about the conditions. Fire good shots and make the best decisions you can about the wind. The wind bracket I had been quoted ran from about 2 to 5 left but it was noted that when the wind squared up and the flags started to run it could be higher and would probably be not a good time to let one go. Armed with a bit of knowledge I was rather pleased to find that aside from a couple of squirrely bits at the start and finish, the wind was more constant than I had feared. Not firing at the extremes probably saved me a point or two. In any event, I fired good shots and did just enough on the wind to keep them all in the bullseye for a 75.7 and 4th in the competition. An excellent start to this year's Grand Aggregate campaign.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Imperial Meeting 2015, Day 2 - Blown Away

In fullbore rifle there is nothing so deliciously frustrating as a day when one is shooting well, but is thoroughly challenged by the difficulty and capriciousness of the wind.

I'm getting to grips with the rifle kindly lent me by CJW, legendary partner of Glasgow 2014 fame: My elevations have been fair to good all day, and appear to have gradually improved as I've gone on; however the wind has been excitingly difficult with wide wind brackets spanning both sides of zero at both short and long ranges. Perhaps because of the angle of the wind relative to Stickledown (long range) and Century (short range) it's felt like the Century ranges at 500x and 600x have perhaps even been slightly trickier than the Admiral Hutton at 900x.

Either way I ended up with a 49.4 at 600x, a 48.3 at 500x and a 47.3 at 900x. Not going to come even close to winning anything even on such a difficult day and I'm wishing I'd just been slightly smarter on the wind at points, but am quietly pleased with a number of big and successful changes I made.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Imperial Meeting 2015, Day 1 - Getting Organised

After 18 hours of flying from Montana to London, I was kindly picked up by my friend Bob (of GGG teardown fame) from LHR and made it to the best place in the world. After coffee, the day was mostly spent getting borrowed rifle and kit ready to shoot in the Veterans' Match at 500x on Century. Bob had also sorted us a practice target at long range, which has at least enabled me to get some zeroes and make sure initial shots will be on paper.

The Veterans' Match was acceptable, if not brilliant. My 49.7 at 500x was a workmanlike score; although losing my last was a bit disappointing. The next time I will fire a better shot and will put them all in.

More pleasant been the continual greetings and catchups with old friends. It has been nigh-on impossible to go anywhere, do anything without running into someone. I'm hoping that from now on, I am able to dedicate a little more time to people. Much of today, I've had to run off with unseemly haste to zero my rifle, to get to Stickledown, to head off to shoot. Meeting new people and renewing old friendships is one of the most important aspects of shooting at Bisley and I should give it the respect it deserves.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Feelin' hot, hot, hot

I'm currently in hot and steamy Montana for a work project, looking longingly at photos of Bisley on Facebook and planning to do a bit of trail running when it cools down later this evening. Back in the UK it's shaping up to be a toasty warm Imperial Meeting, so it's a good time to remind ourselves of how to shoot in the heat*.

Our sport takes place outdoors, so we're largely at the mercy of the elements. Being able to cope with sun and sweltering heat comes as part and parcel of the competition; however you are limited in the changes you can make to your clothing. If you train with a thick jumper under your thick leather shooting jacket you're going to need to be able to compete with the same thick jumper under the same thick leather shooting jacket. This can make things a bit hot under the collar.

Here are a few common-sense tips to help you manage the heat:

1) Wear Sunscreen - Even in the UK, the sun is strong enough to burn you. In the short term this is a pain in the arse and a distraction, but in the long term repeated overexposure to UV can lead to malignant melanoma. As a fullbore shooter you're going to spend a lot of time outside and get a lot of sun.

2) Stay in the Shade and/or Wear a hat - Pretty obvious this one. Bisley is known for silly hats; please keep up our nation's proud traditions. A hat can keep you cool, but also it will reduce the amount of glare that your eyes have to deal with.

3) Stay Hydrated - Your body's natural reaction to high temperatures is to sweat, reducing your temperature through evaporative cooling; however this and your body's other processes can dehydrate you if you don't take in enough fluids. Don't drink lots of Gatorade and other supposed 'sports' drinks as they contain a lot of sugar, which isn't good for you in the long term but can also cause blood sugar highs and lows. They're fine for running, where you're burning 100 calories per mile, but not so much for shooting. Contrary to popular belief caffeine-containing drinks do not increase your risk of dehydration, so if you're used to coffee with breakfast don't stop.

4) Take Enough Salts - Less likely than dehydration but with as severe consequences, drinking too much fluid and not taking on enough sodium and potassium salts can result in hyponatraemia. Entertainingly, many of the symptoms of too little sodium in the blood are similar to those of dehydration, so if you feel dehydrated take on a little salt also.

5) Go Easy on the Booze - Shooting with a hangover in high temperatures can be a deeply unpleasant experience and is unlikely to improve your performance. Keep it to a couple of beers in the evening, or drink the occasional shandy.

6) Acclimatise in your Gear - Your heart rate is likely to go up when there's a sudden increase in body temperature, so in the relatively moderate temperatures you're likely to encounter in the UK it is worth getting ready in your gear 10-15 minutes before you start shooting to allow your heart rate to come back down. Conversely, when shooting in extremely high temperatures in India in 2010 some of us found that staying in the cool and then putting our gear on at the very last minute managed the overall heat load.

7) Use Eye Mist/Drops - If you find that your eyes get dry and this affects your vision, consider using an eye mist spray and/or eyedrops. Originally a bit on the expensive side, eye mist sprays became a lot cheaper when generic brands came on the market. Eye drops aren't too bad, I buy the cheapest and most basic I can find in the supermarket. I generally spray my eyes 15 mins before a shoot and use eye drops at the end of the day.

Keep cool. Stay hydrated. Maximise your performance and enjoy your Imperial Meeting. Looking forward to seeing y'all on Thursday morning.

* Thanks to Phil T from for the subject for today's blog.