Day 17 - Start of the Grand Aggregate

Monday morning, and time for the start of the South African equivalent of the Grand Aggregate - there is a fairly gentle start to the competition, with only the Free State Cup (2 and 7 at 300, 500, and 600m) happening today.

The weather overnight could be described as biblical, with a very large thunderstorm keeping a number of the team awake for an hour or so in the early morning. All except DC, who can sleep through earth-shattering thunderstorms, but not the repetitive clicking on and off of the air-conditioning outside Alwyn's room (as he may have mentioned to Alwyn once or twice). Thankfully, all had cleared by the morning, and left a pleasantly cool morning in which the shooting was generally good, with a light breeze but not enough to trouble most people, although no one scored a possible at all ranges, with the best of the team looking at a high 104 score.

After the competition, everyone got a chance to shoot with someone else's rifle, in order to determine what if any difference would be required should the catastrophic happen to their own bullet hurler part way through a match. Cue much confusion and twiddling of sights, handstops, buttplates, and just about anything else you can think of to move or fiddle with. A secondary consequence of this activity is a feeling from several people that having fired someone else's rifle, that there was something wrong with their own (that coincidentally, may explain bad shots from the morning.) Thankfully all of these claims proved to be groundless, and everyone now has the ability to pick up another gun should the need arise.

The evening saw the Great Britain team and the Army Rifle Association team put on a reception at Shawu Lodge for all their South African counterparts, the GB under 19 team, and everyone else without which it wouldn't be possible for us to come out to South Africa and have such a fantastic time and shoot against some world class competition. A good time was had by all, although those people who attempted to walk all over the grass after the nights rains soon regretted it, but not until after having sunk several inches into the ooze...

The evening also saw Lauren presented with honorary Army colours for services rendered in assisting them with the team competitions throughout the meeting.

Thank you also to all those who are avidly keeping up with happenings on tour via the medium of this diary and the scores and photos posted on the website. Looking at the website stats from Karen, it looks like we have visitors from no fewer than 12 countries, with the South Africans spending the most time on the site, the Great British visiting the site the most, and one Italian spending at least 4 seconds looking at the site (possibly a wrong address.)

Quote of the day (although admittedly it relates to yesterday) goes to Gary for "He lost that big stiff thing that was all wrong at the beginning." Might be a golf reference, might not...