RSA International Match

Alastair Haley

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.

Before we could get to the match, however, there were a few individual shoots to take place in the morning.

Arriving at the range, the wind was, for the first time this tour, very calm. Just a light breeze barely lifting the flags away from the poles. With such benign conditions at 300m for the Jack Mitchley, 22 of the squad scored the maximum 50 points, with Matthew Ensor, David Luckman, and Glyn Barnett almost perfect with 9 out of 10 V-bulls.

Back to 800m for the first of two shoots in the President Cup, the longer range proving more challenging, with only 7 scores of 50, Barnett again leading the way with 8 v-bulls.

For the final shoot of the morning, it was back to 900m for the second half of the President Cup. Conditions were again fast changing, and many of the team were caught out for some surprise outers. Only James Watson managed a 50 at this range, to pair with his 50 at 800m, giving him the only 100 point score amongst the team.

With the individual shoots completed, our collective focus turned to lunch and then to the team match ahead of us. Two sighting shots and 15 scoring shots at each of 8 & 900m, for 16 firers across 4 targets. Competing against teams from South Africa, USA, and England, we were all aware of the challenge ahead.

As we begun at 800m, the light winds were welcomed by our coaches, but not by the shooters as there was little breeze to keep cool in the heat of the day. As the shoot progressed the breeze remained light, but very fickle, and coaches had to work hard to keep the groups centred on the target. A scattering of clouds also played havoc as the targets went from shaded to bright, and there were frequent stops to minimise the impact on the shooters.

Overall, we finished this distance 6 points behind South Africa, who evidently had the home range advantage! GB were second, with a 13 point lead over USA in third, with England trailing by a further 30 points.

At 900m, conditions were much the same, although a couple of degrees cooler. When the scores were tallied, the South African team had managed to pull ahead by a further 4 points, leaving GB in second by 10 points, USA 19 points behind GB, and England trailing behind them in 4th.

Many congratulations to our South African hosts who shot extremely well in some difficult conditions.

Our next team match, the Protea, takes place on Saturday afternoon.