Epilogue: Reflections on a wonderful tour

Simon Hayton

Now that we have all arrived back home, got some sleep, and with many of us this morning on the way back to work – it seems like an appropriate time for one last diary entry to wrap everything up.

Firstly, we must tackle the serious point that we missed out on our goal of winning the Canada and Commonwealth matches. With all of the hard work and training that went into the tour, it’s inevitable that many of us felt disappointment, but it’s also important to take an objective look at what really happened. We were up against some very good teams. The U.S. National Rifle Team combined the very best of the U.S. Palma Team and the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit. They were always going to be a difficult team to beat, and performed incredibly well in the Canada match. Likewise, in the Commonwealth Match, Team Canada had a talented squad who had shot very well as individuals, and really brought out a stellar performance.

Many of our team performed excellently – with both Christina and Jack going clean in the Canada Match, and many others dropping no more than a point or two. There was no tangible disaster that caused our performance to fall short in either match, and we knew we were capable of winning both (as we had done in the Outlander), but we simply didn’t manage it on this day. As one of the lowest scorers in the Commonwealth match, it’s hard not to feel a terrible sense of responsibility for the result. The only possible reflection is a sense of determination to work harder, and try to do better in future.

For a number of us, this was our first experience of senior team touring. For a smaller number of us, it was our first experience of team touring whatsoever. I can now understand the addictive nature of team touring. We have bonded as a group in a way that is truly unique – with absolute trust and confidence in one another to provide mutual support and put our efforts towards a common goal. We have spent hours together finding idle entertainment and recanting tall tales. Everyone has got along very well, and it’s made the last 17 days truly memorable.

A few words of thanks are due to those who have made this tour as enjoyable as it was. Firstly, our Captain – Andrew Lothian. Andrew’s calm and positive manner have set the tone for how the squad interacts. There were no cliques, and everyone was approachable for support and advice. There was no micromanagement, and roles and responsibilities were always made clear, with good team talks given by Andrew when needed. Likewise, our Adjutant, Dave Rose, took care of us brilliantly. With a team of 20 flying with rifles and team kit, picking up hire cars, and multiple road trips, there was potential for issues at any stage, and yet it all progressed smoothly thanks to Dave. Likewise, we could not have asked for better picks in our Vice-Captain, Gary, or Treasurer, Reg Roberts, both of whom are inimitable characters who provided so much support to us throughout the tour. Last but not least, our tireless armourer, caterer, and target coach, Tom Rylands. He was regularly found weighing ammo or fixing rifles late into the night, and many of us (myself included) owe him a debt of gratitude as our best results would absolutely not have been possible without his great skill and work ethic.

Finally, a word of thanks to our sponsors. We were generously supported by an incredible number of people and organisations. In addition to those who provided direct sponsorship via brochure or kit advertising, we were well supported by all of you who purchased entries to the OTF Swindle, or made small donations here or there. The tour would not have been possible without your support, and all of the team are incredibly grateful for your contribution.

So now, back to real life. Thanks for reading – I hope it’s been enjoyable.

Written by Simon Hayton