Wednesday 29th July

This was to be the warmest day of the current phase of settled weather, rising to 90 Deg. F in the shade. Of course the temperature in the “Pits” (USA parlance for what we call the Butts) was much higher as there is no cover in the Pits, just a vertical wall behind the target pullers (that which we term markers). The humidity and light winds proved physically challenging, though the previous two day’s acclimatisation had left us at least partially prepared, and taking comfort in the knowledge that the temperature is forecast to drop into the mid-80s over the coming few days.

It was also good to be focusing once again on our reason for being here – competition shooting and ultimately the Palma World Championship team match. This started with a comprehensive team meeting and briefing yesterday evening, followed by an excellent team dinner / BBQ prepared by David Crispin (Perch fillets caught earlier in the day by the GB fishing team – top fisherman / fisher woman was the team physio Zoe), Tom Drysdale and Matt Millar (barbecued steaks) and Captain Jane (apple crumble).

So, onto the first day’s competitions….

There were two matches, one morning and one afternoon, though this is a loose description as there was no ‘lunch break’. Course of fire was unlimited sighters (non convertible) and 20 to count. USA long-range targets were used, which are similar to ICFRA (to be used in the Palma World Championships), but not exactly the same. The 20-inch bullseye scores 10, to give a maximum possible score of 200. Significantly, there was just one open class, with competitors allowed to use any calibre and any optics. All competitors either carried out their Pits duty for 2 hours in the early morning and 2 hours in the late afternoon, or for 4 hours in the heat of the day (with no shelter this was definitely the worst option!).

Each match had 4 relays (details). At the end of the day the top competitor in each relay took part in a shoot-off to decide the overall winner of the competition – a reasonable attempt to allow for differing conditions between relays.

Conditions during the morning relays were reasonably benign with a light to moderate wind from 6 to 7 o’clock. This was reflected in a total of 12 highest possible scores of 200, 3 of which were GB team members, out of an entry of around 200 competitors; our 3 top scorers with ‘possibles’ were Tom Drysdale, David Luckman and Matt Millar. Five of our team members scored 199, with Jon Underwood’s achieved in a relay where the top score was 199 but with more “centre bulls” or Xs. The subsequent top 4 shoot-off was dominated by the USA and won by Ebsenboss with a 100.6 (3 non-convertible sighters and 10 to count).

The afternoon competition enjoyed more challenging conditions with no scores of 200. There was a total of 8 scores of 199 of which 2 were from GB. One relay was especially tricky in which our own James Watson top scored with 197; unfortunately his brave effort in the shoot-off was bettered by Green from the USA with 100.7. This therefore gave us a range time of around 10 hours today, of which just under half was spent in the Pits.

James Watson Tie Shooting

Overall, today gave us a good introduction to shooting at Camp Perry with some really encouraging individual performances. The next 2 days will see an individual shoot in the morning, followed by 4 person team matches in the afternoon. The routine first thing is settling down to departure at 0700 to be on the range for 0715, so your scribe is off for an early supper and an early night.