9th September 2008

The first day of the individual matches dawned misty and chilly. As our band of heroes assembled at first light in front of the Eagles’ Nest (the clubhouse on the range), there was a sense of anticipation in the air.  Having been lulled into a false sense of security by our two days of coached team matches, it was time for us to fend for ourselves in the challenging wind conditions of Raton’s ranges.  Half of us headed to the pits (butts) with our allocated partner for the day, while the rest of us mounted the firing line.  In Raton one shoots and marks with the same competitor all day, leading to enlightening conversations and burgeoning friendships with our hosts.

JJ Jackson greeted Dave D with the soon to be iconic phrase “I’m glad I didn’t wake up to the long dirt nap this morning”.  Several team meetings later, we decided this meant he woke up on the right side of the Pearly Gates.  Watch this space for more classic JJ-isms…

Prior to the start of the tour, Jeremy had ordered some assorted paraphernalia for his beloved Corvette.  Little did he know that his courier service of choice would not only deliver to the range, but would literally tap him on the shoulder as he was getting down to shoot at 500 yards to deliver the goods.   One hurried signature later, Jeremy fired off a quick 100 ex 100 prior to opening his package.

Lunch turned out to be a rather rushed affair as the range officers were wary of the incoming storm front – only 20 miles out, leading to utter chaos prior to the start of the afternoon’s shooting.  Unfortunately however, several members of the team had gone back to the accommodation for lunch and missed this announcement.  This led to Ed to missing the school bus to the pitts for a second time this tour much to our amusement.

Our team equipped themselves admirably on the range today, with Jon U, John P, David L and Jeremy all scoring 300 ex 300 at short range and 9 others scoring 298 or more. After lunch there was a string shoot of 2 and 15 at 900 yards, which proved to be a little more challenging. The winds are fickle and difficult to read on this range resulting in a real test of our coaching skills. Nick T and John P both walked away with an admirable score of 149, however Jon Underwood added an amazing score of 150.11 to his previous three possibles to clinch the day’s aggregate.

Once we had all congratulated Jonny Thong on his superlative victory, a “swap meet” was held in the Eagles’ Nest. While this may have initially resembled a “bring-and-buy” sale, it turned out to be an excellent opportunity to purchase scopes, barrels, ammo and rifles at bargain basement prices.  Andy bought a high quality Kowa scope, but the best deal was scored by Ed who bought a Swing Mk 5 rifle with a Gamboa stock, a brand new Kreiger barrel and a Davies trigger.  This turned out to the bargain of the century, as once Ed had included his roulette winnings (from Vegas earlier in the tour) he was only approximately £200 out of pocket!

The team spent the late afternoon either pushing the team’s ammunition, or perusing the retail district of downtown Raton.  Having sampled the delights of the cowboy shop, Holly walked away with a rather delightful Stetson hat and Emma a dashing pair of boots.

For dinner most of the team assembled in Raton’s favourite steak house – “K-Bob’s”! This proved to be a very satisfactory combination of all you can eat salad and soup bar, excellent onion rings and very reasonably priced steaks.   The evening came to a civilised conclusion with most of the team turning in as soon as we got back to the house, at the grand old time of 9.30pm, to dream about the Xs that the next day would bring…………or not!

Day 10 (Tuesday) – Individual day 1