19/10 WILRC Day 4 (Final)

"Illegitimis non carborundum"
Said of winds our young lawyer from London
Who so steadily shot
That he won the Worlds pot
As he saw others with magpies undone.

Today was the last day of the World Individual Championships.  After 3 days and 2 and a third daily aggregates, the American Soldier of the Year, Sherri Gallagher, led the field.  Following in the top ten were Nick Tremlett, David Luckman and Jane Messer with many more of the team only a handful of points behind.  But, if the previous couple of days had been anything to go by, pretty much all of this could change when presented with the Belmont bluster.

As a result of having to fit in two ranges – 800 yards and 1000 yards – and the (very improbable) tie shoots as well as the all-important top ten final, today was an 8 a.m. start. 

The first shooters down at 800 yards were presented with the not-so-tricky decision of what number to choose between zero and 1 right when making their wind adjustment.  Scores thus looked set to be very high.  As the clocks ticked past 0830, however, and we reached the normal start time, conditions became tougher.  Instead of drifting in gently from the right, the wind flickered about between a little bit right and a surprising amount left.  By the later firers this was compounded by persistent drizzle (probably qualifying as rain in Australia but merely mist in Scotland) and so scores tailed off somewhat.  Still, most of the team managed to make solid scores in the mid-70s.  The diarist in particular would like to thank his scorer and check scorer for their assistance in keeping him dry while he waited through the rain shower and so was able to finish his shoot in time and relatively dry.

This meant there was little change in the overall standings with one range to go.  GB still had their three in the top ten.

By the time 1000 yards started, the weather had clearly improved.  Gone was the drizzle and thick cloud cover and in its place we had warm sunshine accompanied by a cooling breeze.  Indeed, the sort of weather that is ideal on holiday – perfect for walks in the country and cream teas.  We, however, had a bit of shooting to do and the ‘cooling breeze’ translated to a challenging headwind that started at 1 right and gusted up to what was conservatively estimated at 14 left. The first two or three firers down undeniably had some of the worst conditions, especially on the right hand side of the range.  Firers who chose not to shoot when the wind really dropped/angled towards the firing point or when it gusted hardest found a more manageable bracket of between 2 and 7 left.  Perhaps not appraised of the misses that had been inflicted further up the range, one member of the team remarked that it was “entirely readable” (as he got up having scored ten points more than anyone else on his target)!

Though some shooters later down their string (or on the extreme left of the range) were offered the occasional ‘patch’ of relatively steady wind, conditions never really eased.  Particular mention must go to Parag Patel who managed to score 75.7 and Jane Messer, who would have done the same but for her magpie.  David Luckman (71.9, with an outer) and Richard Jeens (73.7) also managed the conditions well.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, therefore, the standings were rather shaken up at the conclusion of 1000 yards.  The top ten who had managed to qualify for the final were:

  1. Jane Messer (656.59)
  2. Andre du Toit (653.65)
  3. David Luckman (653.65)
  4. Trudy Fay (653.55)
  5. Richard Jeens (652.45)
  6. Geoffrey Grenfell (650.66)
  7. Johannes du Toit (649.53)
  8. Jim Bailey (647.55)
  9. John Widden (647.54)
  10. Nancy Tompkins (647.53)

Narrowly edged out was Nick Tremlett, whose score of 647.46 wasn’t quite enough to make the final.

Our indefatigable ammunition expert Tom Rylands slaved on through lunch to ensure that those in the final had ammunition pressed and ready while the rest of the team pored over the final stats to establish who had won the relevant intra-team bets. 

So, after three and half days of sun, rain and some altogether brutal wind conditions the stage was set for the final of the World Individual Long Range Championship.  As in previous years, the final was contested at 1000 yards. Both to those taking part and those spectating, the slim margins between those in the top ten seemed likely to count for little.

After a lunchbreak which stretched into eternity for the spectators and must surely have been infinitely worse for the finalists, the team trekked out to watch the final. Competitors were randomly assigned targets at 1000 yards before being called to the mound to shoot two sighters and fifteen to count. Winds were moderate but shifted rapidly in strength and angle. Most of the shooters shot fairly briskly, with GB’s David Luckman finishing first with a 70.3 and Richard Jeens only a few minutes behind with a very strong 73.4. Jane took her time, having picked up a magpie early on in the string. With all of our shooters complete, and many of the others besides we waited with bated breath for the few stragglers to come in. It rapidly became apparent that Richard’s score was enough to push him up the standings enough to take the World Individual Long Range Championship by two clear points from…

Therein lies a question; ahead of whom? Lying in joint second on 723.68 were GB’s David Luckman and South Africa’s Andre du Toit. The surging shooters who wished to congratulate Richard on his success (and to commiserate the other shooters) were unceremoniously ordered off the mound by the officials to enable a tie shoot for the silver medal to go ahead. Both David and Andre settled themselves back down on the point for another sighter and five shots to count. Andre shot cleanly, but David was unfortunately to pick up a flick of the flags which took one of his shots into the magpie. Another inner for David and the outcome was sealed in Andre’s favour.

The new Individual Long Range World Champion is Richard Jeens of Great Britain and Wales. The final top ten standings were:

  1. Richard Jeens (725.49)
  2. Andre du Toit (723.68 tie 25.1)
  3. David Luckman (723.68 tie 22.1)
  4. Jane Messer (723.62)
  5. Geoffrey Grenfell (722.69)
  6. Trudie Fay (722.60)
  7. Johannes du Toit (721.57)
  8. Jim Bailey (720.59)
  9. John Whidden (719.60)
  10. Nancy Tompkins (719.58)

Following the final and congratulations all round, the team packed up and retired to the ever-welcoming Natives’ clubhouse in anticipation of the evening’s prize giving followed by a braai with the South African Palma team.  As expected, this turned out to be a very enjoyable evening but, with an eye on the tram practice and forthcoming Palma match, both teams wrapped things up early.