Diary

Reflections

Our tour to South Africa officially ended in the early hours of Monday morning when we touched down at Heathrow. Much of the 48 hours since has been spent unpacking, sleeping and spending time with families (and work) and for most of us has been somewhat of a blur. Co-incidentally, today marks exactly 1 year to go until the 2024 Palma Long Range World Championship match, and as such it seems an appropriate time to pause and reflect on our tour.

Protea Match

This morning saw the second of our two team matches, the Protea match, and is considered the most prestigious match in South Africa. GB Teams have competed in various international ‘test matches’ in South Africa from the first overseas tour to visit in 1921 but the first time a GB team competed in the Protea Match, as it is now named, was in 1998. This will be GB’s 15th appearance in the Protea match, and it is well known to be hard to win against South Africa on their home soil.

State President II

With the conclusion of the Grand Agg yesterday afternoon, our readers might be forgiven for thinking that the main event for individual shooting was complete. However, in South Africa, there is still the State Presidents 2nd and 3rd stages, the former of which was to be shot this morning.

State President I

Thursday is a long day of individual shooting; 5 distances, and then tie-shoots for those lucky enough to make them! First order of business is the 1st stage of the State President’s. This is the South African Bisley Union’s equivalent of HM the Kings Prize back home in the UK. With 7 scoring shots each at 300, 500 and 600m.

RSA International Match

This morning was brimming with anticipation as our first international match, the RSA International, was scheduled for the afternoon. With the team announced yesterday, our armourers had spent yesterday evening making the required ammunition tuned to each of the shooters rifles.

U25 RSA International

Tuesday’s dawn broke with slightly cooler air on a fresh breeze and 3 of the top 4 places of the Grand Aggregate occupied by GB team members (the other being a GB Vet Jeremy Tuck).

Start of the Grand

The SABU Grand Aggregate starts today, and with that the traditional opening ceremony at 7am. All nations competing are invited to raise a flag after the SA National anthem and official welcome from General Mack.

Rest Day

There is no shooting on Sundays at the South African Championships and as a result the day is given up for rest, recovery and recharging of the batteries in whatever way squad members felt suited them best.

Scottish Sword

The SABU championship kicks off today, with the pre-grand warm-ups, and the Hamilton team match in the afternoon. With an 8am first detail, alarms were set at an unsociable 5:45 to allow time for breakfast, packing the vans, and getting to the range for 7:15

Free State Championships

Friday signalled the start of individual competition shooting in the Free State Championships, the traditional warm-up to the South African Champs (or SA Bisley as they call it). Course of fire was to be 2 sighters and 10 to count at 300m and 800m, and 2 sighters and 11 to count at 600m and 900m, shot in distance order.

Training Day

The breakfast buffet was pretty busy this morning, as all of GB, GBU25, England, and USA turned up at 6am. A relatively late breakfast, compared to the rest of the tour where we’ll be up an hour earlier, but today was a practice day with a gentler start.

Preparation

After the excitement and stresses of traveling, and an impressive thunderstorm overnight, Wednesday was set to be a day of rest and preparation.
Some squad members started the morning in the gym or the pool, others opted to take advantage of one of a very small number of lie in days on the tour.

Arrival

The team landed at Johannesburg shortly after 1030 this morning, about an hour ahead of schedule. Immigration and baggage reclaim went remarkably smoothly, and even processing 41 rifles and thousands of rounds of ammunition was surprisingly speedy.

Departure

Back in 2020, around 100 hopefuls submitted an application to be a part of the 2023 Palma Squad, with a pre-tour in 2022. One global pandemic later, and the schedule slipping by a year, today marks 883 days since the 4th October 2020 when the initial squad was selected. This is the day we’ve all had circled in our calendars for a very, very long time.

February Training

After a winter break, with team members undertaking their own individual training regimes, this weekend saw the whole team back together for a final practice before departing for Bloemfontein in 3 weeks.

October Training

With 150 days to go the start of tour, and the summer’s extreme weather reflected in the increasingly beautiful autumn foliage around Bisley, the team met for their final training weekend of 2022. 

September Training

The team met early for breakfast on Saturday for the start of our training weekend. The excitement that might usually accompany the first training weekend now we are an official GB touring team was noticeably and appropriately dampened by the sombre national events of the preceding days; the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, not only our Queen but also our Patron.

T-200 days

GBRT SA2023 logo

With exactly 200 days to go until the GBRT depart for South Africa, we have launched a new look website. We will add more information on the team’s prearation and progress over the coming months.