Team Diary Friday 3rd April 2009
Today was the last early start of the week, with breakfast at 5.30am and leaving the hotel at 6.30am. At the usual team morning meeting, the ‘Mug of the day’ hat was passed from Mary Boston to the chief coach, who had taken Jane Messer’s rifle instead of his own to the firing point the day before. Following this, the award was suddenly in great demand: Bill kicked off his campaign by demanding everyone search their room for the missing headphones case, then minutes later found it in his own room! On the way to the range, Stu Young put in his bid by forgetting his shoes and making the bus turn around halfway to the range to retrieve them from the hotel. All this before we even got to the range!
The morning was taken up with the State Presidents second stage, 2 & 10 at 300m, 500m and 600m – a classic Queens II shoot. The 300m was surprisingly windy for 7.30am, but very steady. Jane however was the exception, as her foresight began a circumnavigation of her barrel (see below for the full progress of this trip). Parag took the best advantage and managed to slam in a 50.10 with an impressive group, and we then moved back to 500m, where the sun started to break through the early cloud and the winds began to shift around. This resulted in a wind bracket of 3-4 minutes with the concomitant effect on scores. Fifties were few and far between but Parag Patel, David Luckman and Nick Tremlett all managed to score 149s. The main coach has just been defending his v count as we write… When added to the first stage David Luckman was the highest placed qualifier for the final which includes 23 of the 24 England team. This year, the final has 186 competitors in – just over a third of the total competitors in the Championship!
The ‘Tiffin wallah’ was again on duty making ‘Parag Special’ sandwiches, which have come to be the default choice for lunch. After a team briefing, the England Convoy moved out on to the range to take up their position on Sierra 1,2 and 3 (The ranges are indicated by letters here for those that not been to South Africa). At 300m, England put in a strong shoot dropping only 7 to lead the Americans by 1 and South Africa by 4. Over lunch, Jane’s ladder foresight’s barrel circumnavigation was put to an end after Jon Underwood and the team armourer noticed how loose it was during a quick check before the match. At the same time, we were exposed to the art of Zen shooting – something of which Jane appears to be a master. It will come as surprise to readers that the current reigning British Open TR Champion claims to shoot with her eyes closed – on the premise that ‘it doesn’t matter provided you haven’t moved before you fire the shot’.
As result of the surgery to Jane’s rifle, the plan to have Jane fire the pilot shot was consequently put on hold – with just cause as it happens, as her first sighter struck the target so far from the centre that it could not be plotted on the team score diagram. An inspired piece of plotting allowed her to convert her V-bull second sighter and finish with a 50.
At 600m we went back to the original plan and Jane took on the responsibility of the first sighter as a pilot which was absolutely perfect on the wind call but in the magpie at 12 o’clock – lots more sight-winding ensued and she converted her second sighter for a bull. 600m proved to be a telling range with regard to the final result, as the team dropped an ugly 15 points. As a result of larger groups than we would have liked, the USA were leading with just 900m to go.
After a rousing Nelsonian speech from the team Captain –“England expects….etc”, the team set about doing the business at 900m, racing through the very still but darkening conditions to complete the range first. Despite a very strong performance, it was not enough to close the gap, and with South Africa putting in a fantastic shoot averaging 49.5 per man, they won the range and ended 9 V’s up on the USA and a margin of 4 points over England. The winning score this year was up on last year, and despite the heat and testing wind conditions, only 4 points short of the match record.
The team was swiftly off the range and back to the hotel for a scrub up and into number ones, returning to the range for the Protea dinner. After 17 (!) people had made their speeches, DFPR won the sweepstake correctly guessing the duration at 39 minutes, a mere half out for his best long range wind (or hot air) call of the week.
On a point of cultural interest – the USA team discovered that the 3rd April is ‘National Cleavage Day’ in South Africa. When Stu Young mentioned this, it provoked this reaction from the team’s most promising entrant.
Protea Match (2&10 @ 3,6 & 900m)
State Presidents Final Qualification
1 DC Luckman (England) 254.34
2 N Tremlett (England) 254.22
3 = JJ Brewer (South Africa) 253.13
3 = TF Breedt (South Africa) 253.13
10 Stephen Penrose (England) 253.20