As I had persuaded my employer to let me stay on in the UK between the end of trial 2 and the start of the Imperial, I was able to get a little range time and felt confident about my basic ability to shoot decent groups; however I was a bit more worried about the wind. While good shooting and good windreading very often go hand in hand* it's not always the case, and a bad detail on Stickledown can shred any aspiration. Other people clearly felt that same way, so I was able to join RO, SCC, PG and a couple of other shooters for shoots at 1000x to get my eye in. This helped.
Trial 3 - Middle Friday to Middle Sunday
After a rather enjoyable lie-in after the UVRC barbecue, a couple of beers and a rather late night final work conference call taken in the umbrella tent my meeting proper kicked off with a sensible shoot at 600x in the Century. It was a rather workmanlike shoot; the group was marginally over 1 minute of arc and my windreading was acceptable, although I did lose one to a gust halfway through.
|Solid but nothing special. My target-mate and GB coaching stalwart MKT managed an superbly-judged 50.1, just missing out on a perfect polo shoot.|
|No-frills long range shooting.|
|Much more the thing. Pity about shot #3.|
|Donegall. Don't know what happened to that second sighter.|
|Very pleased with this. About as good a long-range group|
|Telegraph. First bad shot of the meeting where I lost a point.|
|Ice cold in Alex. A solid 50.8|
|Perhaps not the neatest group, but a good string at the end.|
|Tried hard to lose shot 9 but got away with it. Otherwise pretty solid.|
Trial 4 - Final Monday to Final Thursday
A curious aspect of the psychology of shooting trials in the format that Welsh fullbore rifle shooting currently employs is that as soon as you're settled in one trial and performing, that trial is over and another is forthcoming with all attendant nerves, worries and tribulations regarding establishing a solid base from the start. Perhaps it's just the way I feel about it; having climbed one mountain, it's time for another with all of the fears of failure which can attend.
The shoots on Monday went OK. Although the winds seemed light, there was a subtle capriciousness to them. What seemed clear before a shot was fired became less obvious as time went on, and changes were often hidden. Watching the mirage seemed to be the best bet, but I still managed to lose four points on the day; although that seemed disastrous at the time, it turned out to be a reasonable result.
|The Times. Sighters a bit spread and not happy with my wind zero.|
|The Corporation. So close and yet so far. Could've easily been more, but I didn't really take advantage of the conditions.|
|Slightly scrappy shoot, but could've been worse given the wind spread.|
|Yes, that last to count isn't all it might have been. I never like losing one at 300, but to lose the last is worse.|
Queen's Wednesday is a busy day. Although the shoots are brief, especially as most people have figured zeroes and aren't fussy about taking cooking bull sighters by this point in the Grand Agg, the "transaction costs" are high. There's a lot of to-ing and fro-ing between various ranges on Century and Stickledown, so it can be tiring day.
|Queen's I 300x. I'll take that 5 sighter. I'm not proud.|
|The Conan Doyle. Tricky winds.|
|Queen's I 500x. Lucky not to lose shot 3.|
|Queen's I 600x. Nicely held.|
|The PoW. A good finish to the Grand Agg and Trial 4.|
Although I achieved what I had set out to during my trip over to the UK for the Imperial in 2016, I felt like I hadn't quite delivered as good a performance as I might: I had some issues with wind zeros, probably as the result of problems with cheek position and/or pressure, I didn't feel quite as settled as I have in previous meetings, and I didn;t achieve a Minimum Consideration Score (MCS) for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. There were still positives; in particular I coped much better with downward-sloping firing points - a perennial problem for me - which lead to good results at long range. Much to think about in the coming months.
* The simple reason for this is that if you're not shooting well, it's very hard to tell whether or not a sideways shot is because you've winged it or because of the wind. Hint: If you get one out left and then follow it up with a symmetrical one out the other side, it's quite possible that the first one was a bad shot.