“Once More Unto The Breech (sic)”
Sunday dawned, and with it the International Short Range match – England’s last opportunity to make their mark. The team assembled, drew ammunition & target numbers, then made their way to 300yds early, allowing plenty of time to prepare, focus and take heart from the captain’s briefing from Dick Winney, not to mention a particularly eloquent and motivational speech from Vice Captain, Henry Day.
From knowledge of the opposition, the main challengers were quickly identified and whilst the team made busy with scoring points (the ladies pair of Charlie Staples & Laura Kennedy leading the way on 50.7 & 49.7 respectively), match Adjutant Adam Leech busied himself with covert(ish) observations on the opposition. The main rivals were quickly identified as the local experts Guyana, with the familiar challenge of Ireland also on the radar, though playing their cards close to their chest with no confirmed scores by the end of the 300yd phase. Guyana were less secretive and were quickly found to be only four points behind.
Falling back to 500yds, Charlie Staples again led the way on 50.5 and with three 50.4s from Trevor Bryan, Martin Liversage and Nigel Stangroom, helped keep England a nose ahead of Guyana by a further point. The main threat was still Ireland despite efforts to conceal their scores, noises were being made to the effect of them being 25 points off to England’s 29. With only one distance to go and a four point deficit to make up (and exceed in order to win), England needed a flawless performance at 600yds.
A flawless performance was exactly what England didn’t deliver. Winds were trickier and though quite readable by the coaches, more wind holds and the building heat of a 12pm start, shooters began to suffer in the increasing temperatures. With no 50s on the register cards, Phil Chapman-Sheath led the way on a 49.7, followed by a pair of 48s for Charlie Staples and Nigel Stangroom with 4 and 3 Vs respectively. Though Guyana looked to be safely held off, victory looked unlikely at best.
However, not only do mad dogs and English(wo)men go out in the midday sun, but shooters in general and the Irish in particular. A tough time at 600 was had by all and more so the opposition. England had held it together better than the rest and from a four point deficit, took the match by two points, returning 1148.85 to Ireland’s 1146.74. Guyana fished a close third on 1142.85, thereby winning the concurrent match between the West Indies nations.
With the final available victory secured and the championship dinner & prize-giving in the evening, England celebrations started early. A celebratory beer or three on the range followed, along with the swapping of souvenirs over the final preparation of rifles for transit.
The evening dinner and prize-giving followed from 7pm, the former ensuring that shooters would fly home overweight and the latter ensuring that baggage would go likewise. England picked up an impressive haul of medals (your diarists is unable to confirm how many, having run out of fingers and resorted to removing shoes & socks), not to mention the substantial International Short Range Trophy and several bottles of rum from the traditional exchange of local brews that takes place at the end of the event. Despite the impending 5am start, a few of the team graciously accepted the post-dinner Irish offer to help them drink some of their spoils before finally calling it a day (or night, or morning)!