DAY 5 - FRIDAY 10th August - TO THE RANGE...

Another grey and drizzly start to the day, after a night loudly punctuated by a few very close lightning strikes (described by one who was up late watching the storm as beautiful; even romantic!) and the seemingly ever-present railroad hooters, as trains approached a nearby level crossing. The insistent blaring made it sound like a disaster was imminent... every hour, at 20 past the hour!

We are expected a bit more rain and stormy weather for our first foray onto Camp Perry and our one chance before the America Match to rehearse at 300 yards on Rodriguez Range. We had been warned to expect some disorganisation owing to management changes but, after some initial confusion, we all made it onto the range where the start was a little later than advertised. The Canadians, Australians and Japanese, along with some US fullbore/Palma shots also took the opportunity to do some zeroing and practice.

The butts at Camp Perry are called 'The Pits', not because of their condition (much better than we're used to) but presumably because there is no butt-stop (all shots fall into Lake Erie). Although the target frames are very close to each other (about a foot apart) they have great, well-balanced mechanisms. However, the targets themselves are mounted on rather flimsy cardboard, which is then tied with string to the frames. It’s quite interesting to shoot at a black aiming mark, on an off-white backing, which is then mounted on brown cardboard, and then presented against the changing colour of the sky…

Of more concern were the clear bullet exit holes in the steel at the top of the mantlet; “If the bullet doesn’t get you, the shrapnel will" said DC. As if to reinforce our concerns (already exacerbated by the presence in the pits of a medic and the butt officer's statement that there tended to be a couple of injuries per match), Matt Purdy received a nasty thump and cut on the forehead from a piece of fast moving plastic spotting disk, when it was shattered by a bullet two targets away. An Army medic was very quickly there from his station to assess the injury. A bit of antiseptic wipe and pressure, and manly Matt was quickly back marking his target, albeit with a spectacular bump, cut, and headache but with pride fully intact and, effectively, a gunshot wound that he'll always be able to tell girls about.

Team medic, Parag, immediately advised the team to wear eye protection (sunnies will do) and hats, as well as the obligatory ear defenders, whilst in the Pits, and not to look up at the target all the time – tricky when, with no sand, that is the only way to know that a shot has been fired on your target.

Health and safety was further challenged when the driver of the Pits Shuttle (a line of flat-bed trolleys, pulled by a tractor) bringing shooters back from their marking stint performed a U-turn at rather high speed. Newton’s Laws of Motion were clearly demonstrated, as shooters tried to conserve momentum against the friction of backside on flat surface… but even the US's top markswoman and recent Soldier-of-the-Year 2010, Sherri Gallagher, fresh from the Highpower competition (won by Cael Bernosky) couldn't hold on and slid unceremoniously off the trailer…

“So what about the shooting?”, you cry. It can only be said that JJ's ammo is superb. The first two half hour sessions (not two hours as we had thought) was for individual zeroing and practice, and for us to get our first try with JJ’s magic bullets. Ever the caring and concerned professional, JJ was there to ask each and every shooter, on leaving the point, whether there had been any oddities, difficulties or concerns. To a man (and woman) the answer was “Nope! It’s perfect!”.

In the second session, a coached team practice shoot at 300x, Team GB gained confidence with an impressive 1600.106 ex 1600.160, with initially just one unconverted sighter. However, Parag, having got up from his shoot was disgusted to see from his plot diagram that his 10/X sighters had both been converted, so he promptly got back down and slapped in another X for a 100.10.

Buoyed by this performance, the sun reappeared to welcome the team back to the condos, to relax, reflect and replenish. Dinner tonight? Fish and chips, of course – Chilli Perch, Soy and Ginger Perch, and Lemon Perch; and a bass that had snuck into yesterday's catch. We did have a rather substantial fishy haul to get through!

Quote of the day. Female team member on the range, having been asked a question: “Eh? Speak up - I'm double plugged.” Love to tour!


Now that we are on the range, its quiz time. Each day we'll mention something you may not know about one of the team members, with the answer published the next day. See if you can work it out!

1.  Which team member has caught a baby crocodile on rod and line?


Apologies for the lack of photos.... technical glitch but definitely coming soon!