Scottish Sword

Alastair Haley

The SABU championship kicked 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.

We were treated to a bagpipe medley first thing, as the opening ceremony for this mornings match, the Scottish Sword; 2&7’s at each of 300, 600, and 900m. 300m started with a fairly strong fishtailing wind. Definitely enough to wake us up, but it was readable enough and 17 of the squad managed a full 35 points, with Graham Nelson leading the way with 35.6.

By 600m the wind remained strong, and was relatively quick changing. Just 6 of the squad managed a score of 35, Jason Pepera-Hibbert and David Luckman in front with 35.5.

At 900m the wind became very tricky indeed, catching many out for magpies and outers. No GB were clean, and scores ranged from 34 down to just 19. Nigel Ball led the way with an impressive 34.5, giving him the highest score of the morning with 102.10 and winning the Scottish Sword. Joining him on score, but second on countback, was our Captain, Jeremy Langley. Jon Kent and Glyn Barnett followed close behind on 102 with 8 and 7 v’s respectively and taking 3rd and 5th. Overall, GB took 8 of the top 10 spots (despite an earlier dressing-down by our captain that perhaps we could all be doing a bit better…).

Over lunch, the clear blue skies gave way to some welcome cloud cover, which kept the temperatures down in the heat of the day while we ate and drank and recovered from the morning. With the Scottish Sword completed, it was then time for the afternoon team shoot. The Hamilton match comprises 2&10 at 300m, followed by 2&11 at 600m and is for club teams of 6. Team GB opted to shot alongside, using the opportunity to get some more practice under match conditions.

As we unloaded and started to set up, there was a refreshing hint of rain in the air. Enough to settle the dust and take away the residual heat as we settled in for our shoot. Off in the distance to our right were some looming dark clouds, but they didn’t appear to pose much of a threat. Concerns heightened a little as lightning bolts started to come down, and when the wind shifted, those concerns were realised. Within minutes, the rains came and we were ordered to retreat to our vehicles by the range officer. Lightning, rain and hailstones encircled us, and it wasn’t long before shooting was called off for the day.

Retreating back to the hotel in torrential rain, where even the covered carport couldn’t keep us dry as we unloaded all our equipment, we had an unexpected few hours downtime to enjoy. Some took the opportunity for some shopping, others to watch the Rugby, and others to catch up on some sleep before our first team meal of the tour, at Bella Casa, where GBSA newbies were introduced to the traditional Springbok shooter. Overall, it was a great night out and the first real opportunity to decompress after a hectic few days.