Let me say this, then. This year was special in a multitude of ways, and it was perfect as a unique collection of experience, but yet could have been even better and I look forward to next year, the year after, or some future meeting topping it.
I shot well, but perhaps not as quite as well as I could have done. After all, I didn't win that elusive Bisley major and my final range in the Kolapore was a bit sub-par. The weather was interesting, having started off a bit on the cool and damp side, but soon came fine; even too fine towards the last few days. I got to spend a great deal of time with many of my friends, but it's never enough. How could it be with such people as ANRW, DAR, AMcC, CmcC, CJW, VW, SIF and so many others? How could it ever be?
Mistake not my intent. Above and beyond this was the quality of the experience of shooting at Bisley and the competition, which will have created memories that will keep us going until the next time. Jim took another Grand Agg, DC took another Queen's Prize, ANRW rounded out a solid meeting with his first St. George's Challenge Vase, Welsh shooters took podium places in a number of major competitions. For me though, there is only one story and it's one that I'm still not sure how to react to simply because it hasn't made it through to me yet; big things take time to think through.
Wales won The National Match.
|The winning team. Photo copyright Bob Oxford and reproduced on Gun & Run with his kind permission.|
Sure, England handicap themselves by their selection policy**; the conditions were easy; none of these facts matter to me or anyone else that matters because they are outweighed by the positives. We always struggle to get a quality team of 20 shooters together but this year contrived to pick the right people at the right time, with the result that our normal 98-ish bottom score magically became a 102, a sizeable majority hit 104s, and our normal one or two 105s suddenly blossomed into a round three-quarter dozen clean scores.
It is the one rifle match I never expected to win during my career. And so, it is all the more valuable and memorable and treasured as a result.
* My rifles have each had names: Rifle #1 was Marilyn, rifle #2 was Nariko and my current squeeze is named Winona. Kudos to anyone who can spot whence the name originates.
** Although a more cynical person could argue that this is in itself a strategy to secure a long-term supply of talent and deny the other nations shooters who could compete for them; however that's an argument for another day, and possibly even a bit too cynical a view for my taste.