Having been woken in the wee small hours of Friday morning by a small typhoon of rain and gales, we anxiously drifted in and out of sleep unsure whether at daybreak, the Wairarapa champs would still go ahead. The day dawned dark and foreboding, but the forecast promised improving conditions so down went the coffee, into the car went the rifles, and off we set towards the unusually gloomy weather of sunny Wairarapa.
After a stop to stock up on provisions and the obligatory breakfast pie at Carterton, we arrived at the range in frigid rain and bitter southerlies. The chill of the day was more reminiscent of winter than the height of summer. We used the delayed start to get our rifles clean and dry in the shelter of the club rooms and when the range was ready we headed down to the mound.
We got ourselves organised and squadded, and tried to prepare for shooting amongst the squally showers. I was down first in my new jacket and very eager to try it out! I got comfortable and fired my first sighter which was a 5 at 3 o’clock (woohoo!). I opened the bolt and… no case. I closed the bolt and tried again… still no case. I removed the bolt and… broken extractor! Luckily, I have two spare extractors and knew exactly where they were… At home in the gun safe.
Was this to be the end of my days shooting? Nope! From the kindness of Vic’s heart (and a reluctance to waste an entry fee) she offered up her rifle and ammo. Maybe it was a premonition that made her bring twice as much ammo as necessary – what a legend!
I do not have any sights zero’ed for Vic’s rifle so I ditched her corrective lens, replaced her yellow filter with my dark grey one, extended the butt-plate as far as it would go, and curled myself around a very short rifle!
Not being sure whether I had the same zero as Vic, I took a chance, dialed on the same wind as I had for my first sighter… and hit the spotter! Two to count and I was off! Despite the unfamiliar position, Vic’s rifle is almost the same as mine and I scored lots of 5’s and Vs with the occasional X and finished with a 50.6.
Here I am looking very pretty with my new jacket colour-co-ordinated with Vic’s rifle
Big thanks to Diane Crow who, seeing our difficulty, offered to shoot between Vic and I to give Vic time to reset the rifle.
After Vic’s warning to me that I was not allowed to out-shoot her on her own rifle she was determined to get a good score. Down she got starting with five 5’s then she got serious. Several Vs and Xs later, it came down to the last shot and… Bull-5 for a 50.4! Bugger! I was in big trouble for beating Vic!
There were only 3 possibles shot at 800. One by an A grader, One by myself in B grade and one by Vic in C grade – a big achievement for both of us! This helped Vic to forgive me and she was super stoked with another 50.
By the time we got back to 900 yards, the wind had taken a definite turn for the worse, not only strengthening but getting twitchy and difficult with the quick shifts.
It was a bit of a battle with everyone’s scores taking a hit and lots of “shooting tennis” (3 on the left, 3 on the right, 3 on the left). I shot in a perfectly timed passing shower and got up with a 43.2. Just to prove how bad the wind and rain was, water came in through the back of the sights past the element and onto the eagle eye!
Now it was Vic’s turn. Another downpour came through while she was on the mound getting ready and despite her well-planned rain strategy, everything got soaked! By the time it was Vic’s turn to shoot, the sun had come out again but the damage had been done. We think wet hands and a wet towel led to wet ammunition as her first four shots had a 6 minute variance in elevation. By the 5th shot, everything had dried off again, her waterline settled down and she started nailing the centre. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to recover and she got up with a 39.2.
It wasn’t just cold, it was Balaclava cold!
Time for lunch, a bit of bragging, a quick rifle clean and a scrounge for tea bags for a warming drink (Thanks Owen) and back into it.
The rain had finally ceased and the sun was trying to make an appearance but the glacial breeze was still keeping the temperature down. The squally wind had settled down and it was looking like it could be a slightly better range. I was three points off the leader and was hoping to have a go at chasing them down. When I had a good look at the wind, I decided not to fiddle with the wind knob too much and just shoot on the wind that I wanted. This worked out ok and I hit only 4s and 5s to finish with a 45.0.
Vic was not so lucky with the wind. It was now flicking left to right very quickly and the challenge was to not get caught wrong winded. She almost managed it and was sitting on a 40.2 after 9 shots. The wind had the last word though and gave her an ugly 1 to finish the day with.
Here is Vic thinking about the wind.
The day was finally over, and after all the dramas and cold, the results were positive! Vic won the C grade aggregate and the 800 and 1000 yard aggregate. I just managed to get the B grade grand aggregate and the 800 and 1000 yard aggregate. It was a satisfying drive home made and the event has helped boost our confidence… bring on the next event!
Us with our winnings… Unfortunately the C grade trophy is MIA but wow! what a big shield for B grade and some lovely wine!