The tension in the car was noticeable on the drive up to the Poroutawhao range north of Levin. Today was the final event in the Wellington Provincial Championships where the best 5 scores of 6 events throughout the season count for the trophy. By our (possibly faulty) calculations, I was in the lead in C grade with Jared trailing by 5 points and no-one else within winning distance. Jared was determined to beat me by 5 points to win and I was determined not to let him!
It was a beautiful sunny day and we were both feeling happy and alert. We had a breakfast of corn fritters at Brown Sugar Cafe on the way and found the range first time (wow!) arriving at about midday. My first impression of the range was that it was WARM! This made me happy as I was expecting to spend another beautiful day inside a cold dreary smallbore range. Shooting in the warm is much more pleasant than shooting in the cold!
We squadded ourselves shoulder to shoulder to shoot a practice card and the first card in consecutive squads. Then a short break and the second and third cards also back-to-back.
When we got down for our first card I was feeling pretty nervous! My practice card hadn’t been as tight as I would have liked. I am not sure if this affected my shooting or not but my heart was definitely racing! When I was hitting the 10 ring, I was nailing the centres – perfect pinholes straight through the middle. I had a patch of ugly looking nines in the middle of the string with no apparent pattern. I pulled my left elbow a little further under me which brought me back to consistent centres. I ended up with 96.6. Looking through my scope at Jareds card, it looked like a very tidy card with one nasty 8. I was a bit disappointed that Jared already had some points on me but when the cards were marked, a lot of his shots tested out as 9’s and he ended up with 95.4 not the 98 I thought he had! I was in the lead!
I cannot remember much about the second card except that after I had fired my sighters, I realised that my jacket wasn’t sitting correctly and the rifle butt was slipping off the shoulder pad and ending up underneath the jacket. I made a quick decision and decided to keep shooting because although my group had shifted, my sighters all went through the same hole and I had already adjusted for the group shift. I was worried that If I adjusted my position, I would waste my first few shots finding the centre again. This ended up being a mistake. My group was very loose. I was the last shooter finished so I didn’t get to have a look at Jareds card although he assured me that it wasn’t very good.
My third card was confusing. The shots looked and felt good but they were spraying everywhere. I tried everything I could whilst on the mound – re-positioning, making sure my sling wasn’t slipping, making sure sights and handstop were tight – everything seemed in order. I sucked it up and continued shooting. Once again, I was the last shooter finished and didn’t get a good look at my card and got no look at all at Jareds card but I suspected that I had shot an 89 or 90 from the glimpse I got. I was not feeling confident because if that was the case, Jared would only need a 95 to beat me – usually an easy score for him!
We persuaded the range officer to get a photo of us as we congratulated each other on the mound and before we knew who had won. We then went to look at our scores.
The results of our second card were up when we left the mound. We had both shot 94. We anxiously waited for the results of the third card. I was shocked when they were posted! Instead of the 89 that I expected, I shot a 94! The bad shots must have tested in! This was a relief as it meant that Jared had to shoot 100 to beat me in the series. Jared also shot a 94 in his third card so I was safe!
I haven’t seen the official results yet but I do not think we did very well in the Horewhenua open. I might have just scraped a 4th. Jared maybe a 5th.
Jared then trundled off to Palmerston North to pick up his new .308 rifle (more on this here!). I didn’t fancy the drive so I reentered into B grade to keep me occupied while I waited. I shot progressively worse as the day wore on. I think my best score in B was a 92… OUCH! Interestingly enough, in my final shoot, I had a perfect double group. My shots were either through the 10 ring or they were at 2 o clock in the outer 9 ring. This will be a positional thing I need to fix. My left arm was quite sore and stretched by this stage so I wouldn’t be surprised if I was tensing in anticipation of the recoil.
All in all, not fantastic shooting from either of us (though I am happy with holding my own against Jared! I was also only one point off getting my marksman badge for C grade so maybe not terrible scores for the grade!) but we had a fun day and have a new toy to play with. We are both going to clean our rifles. I am sure that the club rifle that I am shooting on hasn’t been cleaned for a while which may be affecting my accuracy – especially when I am sure that I am shooting good shots!
UPDATE: Results here. I managed 3rd and Jared 4th!