The Goal

The Goal

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Why you should shoot away from your home range

Since moving to New Zealand at the end of 2014, I have come to appreciate the weakness of my windreading ability as an issue I need to do something about. While my first visit to Trentham back in 2015 was welcomed with gentle winds and moderate conditions (and a podium place for me), the wind during past the past two years' national championships have demonstrated why it's renowned as one of the hardest (if not the hardest) ranges around. I feel the need to rise to that challenge with the 2018 Commonwealth Games and 2019 World Long Range Championships approaching fast.

I'm approaching this in a variety of different ways: I'll be refreshing my knowledge of the theory of windreading (and will probably write a couple of posts about it over the next few weeks), trying to shoot a decent amount of long range for obvious reasons, and making an effort to shoot on a variety of different ranges. On this last point, I've not made that much of an effort to get out there and experience a wider variety of ranges since I moved to NZ, but I did at the weekend and it was well worth the effort for a variety of reasons, not all of which were wind-related.

Over the Auckland anniversary weekend - that's the last weekend in January for non-JAFAs - I traveled up to Kauri Mountain Range to shoot in the Northland Championships. The range itself is set on farmland outside of Whangerei three hours north of Auckland and has space for four targets, with electronics having been recently installed.

Kauri Mountain Range. It's a range which backs on to a mountain covered in Kauri trees.

Being very near to the sea, the weekend's shooting fulfilled my desire to experience a wide range of wind conditions. While it was millpond calm shortly after dawn, the wind soon picked up and started by blowing off the land out to sea before reversing as the land heated up. While the wind could be steady in either condition, the transition between the two took a while and produced a very finicky, tricky wind with significant changes sometimes required between subsequent shots. I coped acceptably with the wind for four of the six ranges, but really should have done better at the other two.

Quite apart from hitting my goal of shooting in some interesting winds, the welcome from the members of the Whangerei Rifle Club was great. We shot in an informal atmosphere but with some good competition. We did something that can sometimes be forgotten in the chase for good technique and possibles: we had fun on the range in good company and glorious weather.

Day 2. Beautiful weather with a great bunch of folk
Unfortunately there is a fly in the ointment. The land on which the range is situated has recently been sold from one farmer to another, and while the original owner has been unstinting in his support for the club, the new owner has given them immediate notice. The club has other irons in the fire and are hoping not to be homeless for long, but it's still sad to see an established range go. It was great to feel like I was supporting them and their club by turning up to shoot on their range, but even so I hear of other ranges here in NZ and back in the UK being shut down or closed for civilian use. Coupled with increasing costs and a lack of interest from the younger generation, it's another threat to our sport.

Get out there and shoot away from Bisley, Trentham or your home range. It'll make you a better windreader, a more rounded shooter and hopefully give some much-need support to a smaller club or range under threat.

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