All blog posts need a starting point and this one starts with a glass of wine, a well deserved armchair and a proud and slightly jealous glance at all of Jared’s SIX new trophies from the weekend.
Wellington Spring Meet
The story starts early Saturday morning when we woke up to some uh… “weather” sweeping up the valley. I was secretly wishing that it would knock down a particular tree that I desperately want rid of and Jared was hoping that it wouldn’t interfere with shooting.
No luck for either of us. The tree is still firmly anchored to the earth and after a fairly cheerful wait around in the rain and howling gale on the range, we retired to the clubhouse for a hot drink and waited for a decision to made about the shooting.
I had dressed anticipating the weather and my board shorts and sandals dried out very fast (though my feet were very cold!) I dislike nothing more than wet cuffs and soggy shoes and skin dries fast. Jared has discovered that he can zip one arm off his rain coat and wear it over his shooting jacket!
We both firmly believe that there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad preparation. We were fully prepared to shoot in any weather and both quite enjoy the extra challenges of shooting in the rain but as it was pointed out, the paper targets probably would not have lasted the morning and it is very difficult for the markers to stick patches on wet and disintegrating targets.
Shooting finally kicked off three hours late at 12 noon. There would only be time for the individual competition and not the teams match. To save time, instead of shooting 300, 600 and 900 yards, we would be shooting 500, and two strings at 600 as they all use the same target face.
The Cunning Plan…
Because we are still not sure about my barrel, we decided to share Jared’s barreled action and just swap it between our stocks. Last week I also zeroed a set of sights for Jared’s rifle so the whole operation is very quick and easy! Whip the action out of Jared’s stock, install it in my stock and then quickly change the sights over. We devised a cunning plan to help our weekend run smoothly. We decided that cleaning between ranges was essential due to the sheer volume of shots we would be firing. Here is the plan.
- Make sure that we are in the same squad.
- Squad ourselves with one shooter between us – this way Jared can shoot first and leave all his gear (mat, scope rifle etc…) on the mound ready for me to use.
- As soon as Jared finishes shooting, I swoop in and change the stocks and sights over
- Immediately after I finish shooting, Jared will escort the rifle back to the car and give it a quick clean before for the next range. I can immediately take my turn at scoring.
This worked very well! I was initially very worried that I would have very little time to get into position and get ready after the big swap around but quite often the rifle was set up and ready to go before the shooter in between us had fired their sighters! It is so nice to be able to interchange all our equipment. I can see it being very useful if we ever have an unexpected rifle malfunction.
By the time we got set up for 500 yards, a watery sun was attempting an appearance and the wind had dropped from severe-gale to moderate-gale. This wouldn’t have been so scary if it was consistent but as usual for the Seddon Range, it was coming from all directions!
Jared shot first and shot a respectable 45.2 in the challenging conditions.
I struggled to get my elevation correct to start with as I didn’t have a tested elevation for this range. This wouldn’t normally be a huge problem but I have found that I am often a little bit tense and twitchy for the first few shots of the day (something else to work on!) so they are not the best shots to adjust off! I was in the ball park though and by about the third shot, I had found my groove and was just getting pushed out the sides by the gusts. My score was 43.2
600 Yards #1
I started this shoot by chasing the spotter around. After a 3, a 5 and then a 3 out the other side, I decided that my tactics needed to change. The wind was still switching between left and right so I set my sights on three minutes left and grew some patience. This seemed to pay off! My last 7 shots were a nice little group of 5s with two Vs and two Xs! Unfortunately I rushed one shot and got punished for it with a 4 at 5 o’clock. I was very pleased with this shoot as I had a very nice tight waterline and some lovely centres! It was a shame about the 3s at the start but I will put them down to inexperience with wind. I shot 45.4 in the end.
I believe Jared used a similar tactic but was shooting closer to zero. he ended up with a 45.1. I believe he was struggling with his sighting a little bit and shooting a larger group than he would have liked.
600 Yards #2
At the start of my shoot, the wind was still doing the same thing as last time so once again, I wound on my three minutes and waited. I started off alright with some fives and then the wind changed and didn’t seem to be coming back. I was still holding nice elevation but getting pushed around by the wind. We weren’t quite so close to the flag line this time and I have yet to develop the technique of watching the flags and looking through my sights at the same time (I am left eye dominant and shoot right handed… anything I see with my left eye overrides my right eye!). I developed a bit of a method of moving my rifle slightly to quickly glimpse the flags through the sights – I am not sure if this is a known (or even sensible) technique but it seemed to work ok. With time running short and quite a few shots to go, I couldn’t wait for the wind to come back and just took a bit of a stab. I finished on a string of fours with 45.0 total.
Jared shot before me and did slightly better with a 46.3
In the end, Jared won C grade for the spring meet… Well done! I ended up third in C grade. André Doyle took some nice photos of us.
Hawkes Bay Championships
Stupid o’clock arrived and then, when it realised that it wasn’t welcome, slunk away again in a sulk. Eventually I dragged myself out of bed and in my search for coffee, I wandered into the living room where I was greeted by a very unhealthy looking Jared. In between the rather interesting chameleon-like bouts of grey, green and white hued complexion, he mumbled something about “dodgy sausages” and “look after me today”. I resolved to stay as far away from him as possible because I am not super-excited about catching the pukes.
I took my turn at scrubbing out the rifle and once I had extracted a reluctant Jared from the toilet, we made our way down range. Jared got down to shoot which is usually my cue to wander away for one last pit-stop. Usually I would be back before the penultimate shooter in front of me had finished shooting but not this time! I arrived back just in time to see Jared leaving the mound.
Obviously, my first thoughts were that he had abandoned his shoot because he really really REALLY needed to puke but this was not the case! He had a good patch of steady wind and just kept on rolling the shots through. A final score of 48.4 was accompanied by a great big smile and a slightly healthier skin tone!
I wasn’t so lucky… I shrugged on my jacket and went through the now familiar (and so boring!) rigmarole of rifle-swap. Just as I was getting into position and fine tuning my sighting…
The wind dropped.
The wind became a little choppy…
The wind became a LOT choppy…
The wind was pushing 3-4 minutes from either direction at random… sometimes with flags in all directions… $%^&!
I did my best. My “wait for the wind” technique from yesterday clearly wasn’t working in these conditions so I abandoned it. All in all I think that I didn’t do too badly with the wind. Unfortunately, I panicked slightly and was concentrating so much on the wind that I forgot all about elevation! First time shooting this range on this rifle and I kept just putting all the 2 o’clock and 10 o’clock shots down as bad shots rather than realising that my elevation was mostly way too high! Jared informed me later that I was consistently a full minute high… A nice group scraping the top of the 5 ring. Some of my 3s could have been 4s and some of my 4s might have been 5s. Lesson learned! I know I can mostly pull off good shots but it is sifting through all of these many complications that make me realise how much of a n00b that I really am!
900 Yards #1
Well… I learned my lesson from 800 yards and concentrated on making sure my elevation was correct. The conditions were very similar to the previous range. After my sighters, I brought my sights down two minutes from my estimated elevation. I was shooting fine with shots lost only to wind until around shot five where my group dropped to the three ring (twice… eek!). I wound up and it was fine from then on. I ended up with 42.0. I am starting to get the feeling that I have a position issue after seven or so shots… I was also a little frustrated because after the earlier tempestuous weather, I had not anticipated the ferocity of the sun hammering its way through the local ozone hole onto the back of my legs and had neglected the sunscreen. So much for being prepared! I am impressed with my ability to shoot calmly in the face of impending melanoma.
Jared’s opinion on his own shoot is that it was “pretty average”. He was feeling a lot better but he threw a 3 up high and lost three points to wind due to a lack of patience. His final score was 45.2.
Rachael Gee took an amazing shot of my bum!
900 Yards #2 – 15 Shot Match
Jared went into this shoot with the specific goal of not dropping more than 3 points. This would mean that he would only be 10 points down for the day. All was going brilliantly with many 5s and Vs and then… knowing a wind shift was coming and trying to beat it, Jared shot…
By the end of the string, Jared had a 69.3. He was a little disappointed to drop 6 whole points but overall satisfaction levels were high (Jared still hasn’t stopped talking about it!).
I had a good shoot. I had some fun figuring out my foresight element for this range as it was not working well for me at the previous 900 and I am still not sure that I have it right.
I decided on a 4.1 with a 0.5 eagle eye which gives me a very similar sight picture to smallbore.
I REALLY enjoyed the wind in this shoot. It was twitchy but not as strong as before and quite subtle. I was switching between 2 minutes left and 2 minutes right but I was in the flow and it was mostly going ok. I was working off the mirage a lot. In the end, my shoot included four 3s and a 4. Three of the 3s were elevation-related and I called two of them. One 3 and a 4 were wind. The rest of the shoot was a lot of fives and Vs and Xs!
The highlight of this shoot for me was trying not to crack up laughing while overhearing snippets of the conversation on the neighboring mound. I remember something about bugs having sex on someones boobs and… waterbeds?! (You all know who you are!).
Jared once again cleaned up C grade winning the Long Range Aggregate, the short Range Aggregate, C Grade Championships, was part of the winning Petone Club team and also won the Don Whiteman Memorial Trophy which is for the combination of the Wellington Spring Meet and the Hawkes Bay Champs. (Jared also would have won B Grade by a centre if he was entered in it!). Here are just a couple of photographs from André.
I was third overall in C grade and I came second in the Don Whiteman Memorial Trophy. And because there aren’t enough photos of me in the world, here is another one!
Overall, it was a very fun weekend! I learned a lot and Saturday at least, helped me regain my confidence that I can actually shoot! There are still a lot of things to iron out and I need to keep reminding myself to be patient… It won’t all happen overnight!
Jared is in love with the two beautiful old Hawkes Bay trophies. One of them was first awarded in 1914 – a hundred years ago this year! The other one is even older – 1908. He is very excited about being part of so much history!!
Thanks to the WRA for organising another fantastic event… we can’t wait for the next one!