DAY 20 - SATURDAY 25th August - CANADA MATCH & GOVERNOR GENERAL'S FINAL

Our last day of shooting - a big one - was greeted by a dawn chorus... of sorts. While minding his own business in the performance of his ablutions, one of our diarists could hear something emanating from the wall... or in fact through the wall... and it was in fact "The Wall". The tune wasn't much like Pink Floyd's version, but they were unmistakeably that song' lyrics, as Danny was enunciating each word so well.

His room-mate, meanwhile, was out regaling others of the excellent dinner at the Chateau Laurier the night before. The others who had been there were very amused that he had given David Luckman a new sobriquet: "Le Champignon du Canada!"

Off to the range a wee bit later than usual where the Canada Match was due to start at 9am rather than the 8am many of us were used to - apparently they had learned from previous years where the match has been finished in a flash and there is a looong lunch break. So there was plenty of time to roll out of bed and there'd still be plenty of time for lunch after the match... or would there? To cut a long story short, there wasn't, and almost all the team had a bit of a rush to get ready for the Governor General's Final. I guess if you have read this far then you would like to know what happened that morning... anything of consequence? Well yes, as it happens...

At 08:20 the team drove out to the range for their only shoot in Canada at 300 yards. Mindful of the uncertain elevations at that range - 300m having been the norm here - Jeremy as main coach was wondering whether we should 'cut' 5s and convert only V-bulls. Both target coaches replied that, until a full score (1200 out of 1200) was ever achieved in the match, we should convert 5s because even a small probability of ending in a 4 was too much. So, with some people starting high, some not and one low, we converted more first shot 5s than Vs and tried, to the extent possible, to allow the firers to 'flow'. The tailwind was moving about so that it amounted to about a minute of angle in each direction, visible more on the mirage than on the flags, so waits were sometimes necessary but the team finished fairly quickly before going to seek shade from the van and scoreboard at 500 yards while waiting for the others. With all the team keen to open the account with a full score at 300x, there had been evidence of nerves in some shots, while other firers got into their groove quickly. At the end of 300 yards, GB had scored 400.58, to lead by two points from both Canada and Australia, with the USA a point or two further back.

At 500 yards, there was also the need to stop and start from time to  time and, with the team flags behind us helping to predict what might come next, Jeremy found himself standing up and facing backwards for much of the range, which he also did for much of 600. Jeremy had warned against complacency at this "easiest" range and the wind coaches' and firers' guard never dropped, although a couple of shots late in the range did try unsuccessfully to escape. GB's score at 500: 400.50 - still in the lead. Australia had scored 399 and Canada were also strong.

600 yards looked, initially, as if it might be easy. The flags were down the poles and the mirage light as we advanced onto the firing point. But that changed just as Message 1 was due. Once again from the rear, the wind came first from the left, then from the right and back again, with values between two and three minutes in either direction visible; but we tried to avoid shooting when they were to be seen. The patches of steady wind had become more fleeting, so that we somtimes found ourselves chasing the wind down from a value of 1.5 minutes or less until it threatened to come through from the other side. Quite frequently the mirage seemed to be trying to come from both sides - as indeed did the flags. A couple of firers could be heard expressing appreciation for having been told not to fire, despite the heat and the likelihood of their boiling over on the firing point - all it took was a quick glance at the flags!

The first couple of firers were off the point in decent time - first Lucky on Matt C's (left hand) target, then Chris Watson on Matt E's (right hand) target finished with 50s to chalk up two 150s on the board. John Pugsley then rattled through his shots when he could between "holds" on the left target to do the same and, like Lucky, finish with 250 out of 250 in the Commonwealth and Canada matches. Kelvin finished with a 50 on the right; then Watty did the same, also on the right and also for 150 (again - he likes the Canada Match). He and David Calvert on the left were subjected to a number of prudent "waits" as the wind became less than certain - why plough on and take a gamble when you have firers who are quick enough that you can wait until conditions are more certain? The answer to that question is, of course, "to avoid overheating" but it was tricky enough to merit the waits and to overcome our natural preference to get on with it. And there was also the increasing awareness that the team had not dropped a point and really wanted to keep it that way...

DC came off the left firing point with a 50 to complete his 150 and his two-match 250. Parag (on the right) had sacrificed a sighter out of turn as a pilot and had used his other to help get DC finished, so it was then Jon Underwood's sighter (on the left) that was used to pilot for Parag. There can't be many shooters you'd rather have on the firing point when the team is on 1100 out of 1100 than those two. Every so often they would get to fire two or three shots, but the wind was being fickle so the shoot was rather staccato - no more so than when, with both firers having just one shot remaining, the wind dramatically shifted, Jon was asked to stop in time, and both targets rested while waiting for a recognisable condition. And waited. And waited. We knew how long there was left in the match and didn't want to take a "punt" on the wind with so much resting on it if we didn't have to.

Not an ideal situation, waiting ten minutes or more in the heat to fire your last shot, with the tension rising so that even the wind coaches felt nervous about the prospect of achieving the magical 1200 (or of being the one that everyone would take the mickey out of forever if we failed!). Talk about tension. But Jon and Parag were cool as cucumbers and at least one of them was fooled by his coach into thinking he had a couple of shots remaining rather than just one. So, when he was allowed to go on as the coaches felt quite sure about the wind at long last, he fired it quickly - we had just heard the "one minute remaining in the match" warning after all! So Jon was finished... and the target went down... more tension... and we wanted to see it as a pilot for Parag's last shot... but it stayed down... more tension... and only started to rise as Parag was told to go on - Matt E couldn't risk running out of time by dint of a misfire or similar... Jon's target came up with a V bull on it - well done (he too scored 50, so 150 in the match)... and Parag's target went down... "Phew!" thought Matt C as Ed (super plotter) patted him on the back and he patted Jon on the back while holding him in position... "and please let this last one go in" he thought, along with everyone else... and up came another V bull for Parag... cue lots of cheering from all around, and lots of congratulatory back slapping and hugs. Amazing. GB had scored 1200 out of 1200 for the very first time, winning the match in the process. And Parag's 50 had not only completed his 150 and 250 but also made him the top scorer in the match, this time with a 150.27.

Next up, after the hurried lunch and group photo: the Governor General's Final, during which the Editor has turned his hand to writing because, well, he has the time...

 

WHO AM I?

Yesterday's answer: Parag Patel was the little cherub!

Q15: Which GB team member most recently won the Governor General's Prize?

Answer: David Luckman, today! In rather different wind to this morning - 2.5 to 6.5 left at 800m and 1.5 to 8.5 left at 900m, Lucky carried through 150 from short range to make 75 at 800m and 73 at 900m to score 298.42 and beat Ross McQuillan by 11 V bulls. Next GB shots were John Pugsley, 3rd on 297.27 - thankfully not ruing the loss of his last - then Jon Underwood 4th on 296.33, Matt Ensor 6th on 295.27, with both Watsons, Kelvin, Jacqui, Jeremy, Ed and Danny all in the top 20.

Well done all and especially to David on winning the Double of Governor General's Prize and Grand Aggregate. He is now the grandly titled David "Champignon" Luckman GC2 SB2 SM SC4 CGM CGC2 CSM CSC2 WC!

Now for prize giving and the inevitable celebrations...