October Training

Graham Nelson

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. 

Unfortunately, the whole squad couldn’t be in attendance for this weekend. The Welsh contingent had been given permission to make up a target team for Wales in the European Long-Range Championships. The Vice-Captain and Adjutant were in Australia with the GB Match Rifle Team (our thanks to Dave Rose for stepping into Del’s shoes) and 1 member successfully sold a holiday to Chicago as a ‘fitness exercise’. Chris Mitchell alleges, via an update to his Strava account, that he completed the twice-postponed Chicago marathon in 3hr 37. Impressive.

The focus of this training weekend had been set by the Captain as target team drills. Accordingly, the target coaches and captain had met via Zoom to plan the objectives and training goals for each range session. These were shared with the rest of the squad on Saturday morning, as well as a brief on logistics for the tour and an update on team fundraising so far. It’s estimated that our training and the 2023 tour and 2024 World Championships tour will cost in excess of £360,000. Almost all of this is self-funded so fundraising activities are a vital team task – please get in touch if you would like to sponsor us or run a corporate hospitality day for your business.

With the paperwork done the team headed out to Stickledown range, primarily to check the accuracy of this diarist’s recent 40th birthday cake, but apparently also to do some long-range shooting. Firers had been given the freedom to work on any aspect of their team shooting agreed with their target coach during this session. Some chose to work on their restarts, others rhythm and speed. One team member trialled eye moulding contact lenses! Scores were varied across the team with many targets focusing on processes rather than outcomes but there were still several full scores of 75 registered, the most notable being David Luckman’s 75.12 and Rosanne Furniss’s 75.10 – both at 1000 on ICFRA targets with GGG factory ammunition. 

Sunday’s early morning frost brought a sharp shock for many, followed by another as we set about some technical training at short range for the morning. Century was resplendent (and the wind initially calm) as the sun rose over the team. Our warmup and stretches were very helpful in shaking off the cobwebs of the autumn morning. In-spite of the grumbling from some corners (and the focus again on process over outcome) scoring was again impressive with 13 scores of 75 across 15 firers (each firing at 300 and then 600 yards on ICFRA targets) with Matt Purdy and David Luckman both scoring 150 out of 150, David just pipping Matt by 2 vee bulls. 

Much attention had been paid by the coaches to weather forecast apps over the morning, and they proved to be increasingly accurate as the promised fishtailing tail wind arrived over lunch. The technical work of the weekend was put into practice under match conditions. With winds changing quickly from up to 7 ½ minutes of angle left to 1 minute right (at 1000 yards, a minute of angle is approximately equivalent to 10 inches of lateral deflection in the path of a bullet as is travels down the range) visits to the 4-ring were not infrequent and team stops were also used to good effect. 

Unsurprisingly, the conditions were reflected in the scores. Jemima Hince, Tom Drysdale and David Luckman (and their coaches!) registered scores of 146 (ex 150). Only two scores of 75 were made. Nick Healy’s 75.8 at 900 yards (coached by Matthew Ensor) was matched by Rick Shouler at 1000 yards. Rick added this to a 72.4 at 900 to come out top gun with 147.12 – congratulations to him and to his coach, Seth Dowley. Across the whole weekend David Luckman (coached by Bill Richards) dropped only 5 points for a most impressive 445.54. He’s still quite good!

The final act of the team in 2022 was to clear up, debrief and set training plans for the winter, after which the tired trips home began with the anguished cries of Matty’s ‘It’s ONE left’ ringing in our ears.

See you all in 2023!

Complete weekend scores