Training Day

Alastair Haley

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.

There was much anticipation about finally getting some trigger time in Bloemfontein, considering how long ago it was that the squad selection was first announced, and we soon loaded the vans and set off on the 20 minute drive to the range, set to the soundtrack of a synchronised team playlist we put together before departing the UK.

General de Wet ranges, in the memory of previous travellers, is a dry dusty red range that quickly covers everything with a fine orange powder. Except that unusually, there has been much more rain this year than previous and the whole range was covered in grass, no doubt leading to more work by our hosts in mowing 60 acres of range.

We began the day in relatively cool temperatures of 24 degrees with an individual shoot at 300m. This was a final opportunity to get some zeros for this ammunition, as well as checking that all our equipment was present and correct, and undamaged after our travels. It was also an excellent opportunity for our captain to demonstrate what not-to-do, as he was seen driving away from the range to collect his sights from his hotel bedroom.

After our individual 300m shoot, it was back to 700m for team practice. Coaches quickly learned how fast the wind changes at this range, and firers were encouraged to shoot quickly to take advantage of the opportunities spotted by the coaches.

With temperatures steadily climbing to the low 30’s, it was back again to 800, then finally 900m for more of the same, coaches and shooters alike making small adjustments to their normal routines to adapt to the individual conditions out here. One of our coaches, Graham, decided that maybe his polarised sunglasses would be a better option than his dedicated shooting lenses…an idea that was quickly abandoned after 6 shots.

A big congratulations to Nigel, who managed 200ex200 today, even if it doesn’t count for anything except his personal pride!