February Training

Rosanne Furniss

After a three month break since our last outing in November, the team regrouped for our final full squad training weekend before we head out to South Africa in three weeks.

The prospect of an early February training weekend had encouraged preparation for freezing temperatures and rain, but the weather gods shone upon us and, whilst not the 30 degrees we can expect in Bloemfontein, a temperate 10 degrees was welcome! With winter bugs circulating, sadly Captain Jeremy Langley had to stay at home, but everyone else headed to Bisley.

The team started in the North London Rifle Club to wish each other Happy New Year, admire the newly printed brochures, collect stash (which somehow looks a lot more voluminous in real life than it does on a google form!) and start our preparation for the weekend as target teams. Thanks again to our sponsors – it was lovely to see our newly serviced Swatcom Headsets from Talking Headsets and to get our Ion8 water bottles.

Fueled with Cornish pasties, we headed out to 1000 yards. As a cobweb blowout, we started with 2&7s, reminded ourselves of our zeros and got back into the swing of coached shooting. The most important session of the weekend was the second shoot: 2 sighting shots and 15 to count at 1000 yards, mimicking match conditions. As message 1 was passed, the pilot shots went down and we began. Overall, the team performed incredibly well, with particular shoutouts to Theo Dodds (coached by Seth Dowley) with 75.12, and to Seth Dowley who coached his target without dropping any points for a perfect 300 ex 300. Again.

Following shooting, the team warmed up back at the North London Rifle Club, with briefings from Vice Captain Nick Tremlett on ammunition, and adjutant Derek Lowe, who was thanked by the team for the hard work put in and the comprehensive briefing he has pulled together for all the logistics. After a short break, and some tense rugby, we then enjoyed a team dinner where Seth learned there were risks to questionning the alignment of the embroidery on the team kit… we look forward to seeing your new polo shirt in South Africa Seth!

Sunday’s overcast morning saw our last chance for individual shooting, including contingency planning for any malfunctions with everyone shooting backup rifles to check compatibility with each other’s kit. After singing Happy Birthday to our range officer, Archie Whicher, two shoots of 2&15 allowed us all to get back into the habit of individual shooting as we look forward to the SABU meeting. Strong scores throughout, and the decision to delay the second detail starting as the rain blew through, made for a happy team. Shoutouts to top shot Chloë Evans with a very impressive 225.32 across the three main shoots, and Nick Healy for managing to fit in a wedding reception and being top shot across the whole weekend.

As we wrapped up the weekend with practice packing of rifle boxes, and extra logistics for the early party who head out a few days before the main party, it was noticeable that this weekend has upped the excitement; it now feels very real – only 20 days until we fly!