The Goal

The Goal

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Trials and Tribulations

The process of actually getting to go to the Commonwealth Games is a long and often frustrating one; even after you have notionally been selected by your NGB*, there may be a whole host of other criteria to be fulfilled and indeed as one person once put it to me: you're not 100% sure until you're sitting on the plane waiting to take off. You need to convince them that you're capable of a medal-winning performance on the day.

I cannot speak for the other countries involved in The Games, whose selection processes may involve anonymous committees in smoke-filled rooms and the reading of entrails following the ritual sacrifice of small animals for all I know**; however Team Wales, the WTSF and the WRA jointly have a fairly straightforward approach, which can be summarised from the point of view of an athlete thus:
  1. Do lashings and lashings of individual and pairs training
  2. Come in the top 2 in the nominated ranking events
  3. Shoot as many minimum consideration scores as humanly possible, preferably during competitions involving other CWG-level athletes, whom you beat during the process
There is considerably more to the formal procedure than this from the point of the NGB, but this gets to the heart of what you actually need to do and can control in order to get selected. My legendary pardner CJW and I have achieved #2, have solid plans in place for #1, and are both working on #3. Unfortunately #3 involves shooting a total of 399 out of 405 for a full HM Queen's Prize course of fire, which is no mean feat; doubly so when you live in a country where no one ever shoots a full HMQPCOF. Fortunately, I also live in a country of fine, upstanding people who are willing to muck in and help out a fellow rifle shooter in need; and, to cut a long story short, I've been shooting alongside the NZ CWG ranking events which do involve shooting the full course of fire.

Fast forward to last week, when I got to spend a wonderful four days down at Trentham trying to shoot an MCS while simultaneously not cocking up anyone else's shoot. At this point enormous thanks are due to a moderate-sized cast of people who helped out by ROing, butt marking, logistics etc... etc... So 'nuff respect*** to Kevin Win, Tony Gore, Andre Doyle, Vic and Jared McMurdo of HotloadeD Kiwi fame, Eben Fourie, Darryl Crow, John McLaren, Brian Carter, John Snowden, Bevan Mehrtens, Malcolm Dodson, John Whiteman, Geoff Smith, Rob Johansen, Rick Fincham, Allen Owens, Henry Firmston, and all the others who helped out and made things run super-smoothly.

The downside is that I didn't get an MCS; I managed two 396s. Boo! The upside is that I did have some excellent groups and only one dodgy shoot. Yay!

35.6 at 300x in Trial 2
35.7 at 500x in Trial 1. Bring it.
35.6 at 600x in Trial 1. Tough to get on 600x ICFRA targets.

On the other hand, the second of my 396s would have been a 401 (and therefore a minimum consideration score by 2 clear points) had I not carelessly placed one of my shots on an adjacent target at 900 yards. Boo!

Shot #12 rather spoiled the look of the thing.

While I didn't ultimately get the result that I wanted out of the weekend, it was a really worthwhile exercise now that I have some emotional distance on the crossed shot: I got to shoot two full courses of fire with top flight shooters; had some great results; have confirmed that my brand new jacket does not fit; have confirmed that the tweaks I have made to my old jacket have helped; and it is clear to me that I can (still) shoot the groups and scores required. Roll on June, when I'll hopefully get a chance to shoot a full course of fire on Belmont Range in Australia, the 2018 Gold Coast CWG venue.

* National Governing Body. It actually may not be entire clear who your NGB is, or indeed there may be more than one body you need to satisfy during the process.
** You know who you are.
*** I may be up to date on shooting terminology, but my chat dates from the mid-90's.


  1. Gaz

    I was discussing Wales's requirement for a MQS with CJW a couple of weeks ago.

    It's a tricky one. I can see why country selection committees think that a MQS is sensible because performance potential in almost all other CG events can be very clearly measured by scores or times. However, we all know that scores in fullbore events are very conditions dependent. 399 is a very tough score but it's also somewhat irrelevant. I've shot in conditions where 399 would, frankly, be heroic but also in events where 399 would make you an "also ran". Am I right in thinking that NZ's MQS is 391 which is based on 6th place at Glasgow. As we all know, the conditions for the third stage in Glasgow were extremely difficult. In "normal" conditions, 391 would be a pretty poor score.

    The other problem is the one you point out which is that there aren't all that many events where the full "Queen's Prize" course of fire is run. Chris was doing the Army meeting because it does run that course of fire. I couldn't shoot the long range but I think 399 would have been verging on the heroic - although your compatriot Bob O did achieve 399, the next best was 397.

    Relative performance (measured against other top shooters) at suitable events seems a more sensible approachbut the question is how to convince the powers that be that it's the way to go.

    MQS isn't much better than reading the entrails in my view!

    Good luck with your mission to get selected.



    1. Hi Nick,

      You get right to the heart of the issue with the use of MCSs - the variability in results based on conditions (particularly at long range) is enormous in fullbore rifle when compared to, say, the 100 metres. The conditions at Trentham over the weekend were very good, particularly for that range, which as we all know can be utterly brutal.

      I think you're right about the NZ MCS scores and its origins; however I think that they have some other conditions attached regarding having to shoot at least one at home and another abroad, preferably on the range on which the games will be shot. I am ready to be corrected on that if I've got it wrong!

      Thank you for the best wishes. I'm shooting well, have plenty of opportunities later in the year and am on the upswing!



    2. Just for the record, I was only pointing out the NZ MCS to illustrate that it's possible to come up with wildly different scores all of which have a logic behind them. Not saying it's too easy.

      I did a bit more digging on the 'net and it seems that the Scots use a ranking system more along the lines of what I described.

  2. Very nice work. Were you having positional issues on the last target?

    1. Hi Stefan,

      Yes, I had some minor issues which meant that I needed to tighten my sling as I went through the shoot.

      My Creedmoor jacket has stretched a little and I may have redistibuted a little weight (although I've not been running much over the past 6 months) which gave me some issues in the first trial when we went back to long range; however I made some ad-hoc alterations to it with needle and thread that night, which have helped significantly. My position was OKish in the second trial but I still needed to make sling tension adjustments during the shoots as the jacket and sling slipped. I generally find this to be not to be too much of an issue at short range but can make a big difference at the longs as everything gets magnified so much. I've since made some more alterations which should solidify the fit and position further, but these are a only really a stopgap measure until my new jacket is sorted.

      I was measured up for a new custom-tailored jacket at the start of the year; however it is clearly too big across the back and shoulders and needs to go back to be re-cut. My backup option is a trip to Mr Truttmann in Lucerne during one of my UK trips this year to get an entirely new jacket made up.