Diary

8th April

Warming up nicely on the range at Bloemfontein. 

 
After a much enjoyed day off yesterday, it's back in the saddle in the heat. The morning is individual shooting, Queens one format, in the Free State Cup. It's the first shooting of the Grand, and the vice captain has chosen this morning to roll out a brand new shooting jacket. 
 
This afternoon is team shoots: the Dewar, being 2+10 at 300m and 600m. We have entered 3 teams of 6 firers, being wind coached by Raincock, Barnett and Underwood. 
 
No animals yet spotted on the range; perhaps we used up a lot of animal spotting coupons yesterday. 
 

7th April

Sunday is a day of rest and so it was for the team.  Conversely, Saturday is often a night of exuberance, and so it was too for the team. Last night's rugby was between the famous Cheetah's (who were staying in our hotel) and the equally famous Stormers (who weren't). We were kindly gifted tickets to last night's game by the hotel manager, and what a game it was! It was full of all the usual tension, drama and excitement - characteristic of these games - exacerbated by a tight 1 point margin in the final few minutes by the Stormers. Remarkably, the Cheetahs had possession as the clock ran out and succeeded in pushing through nine plays without losing the ball, which culminated in a penalty and them kicking the winning kick 3 minutes after time ran out to secure a victory!

The morning after was fairly short, with most of the team visiting the Cheetah Sanctuary for some up close petting action of Siberian Tigers, cheetah cubs and adults, lions, leopards, meercats and most global animals with a cat in their name or background.

Thereafter the team were treated to a magnificent brai (BBQ) by the Bramley family at their farm. - a truely warm and welcoming affair. We were also blessed by a frank and fascinating talk with Brigadier General Alexander, who has been the Chief Range Officer at the South African Bisley Union shoots for the last 15 years. 

5th April

The team were greeted this morning by common ibis on the hotel lawn and ostrich on the 900m firing point. 

It was another hot day on the range and shooting consisted of two "club matches", with the touring party being split into three seperate teams to compete in the Hamilton (300, 500, 600m) and the Rhodes Cup (800, 900m).  Not too much wind, but tricky. 

The mini-buses are cunningly parked for a quick getaway: rugby to attend at 5pm!

The America Match - Live Updates

The America Match consists of 8 shooters per team firing 15 scoring shots each at each range, shot at 4 ranges (300, 600, 800, 900m) over the course of the day. The maximum possible score per team per range is 600 points.

Competing Teams: England, Ireland, South Africa, USA, Wales.

8:30am - range opened by Brigadier General Alexander with morning prayers.

8.48am - the Match commences.

10.10am - After 300m, the scores for the America Match so far (out of a maximum 600 points) are as follows:

South Africa 597.71

USA 595.69

England 591.55

Ireland 588

Wales ...

Conditions are bright and breezy, warm and clear.

 

10:42am - Firing at 600m has commenced. Moderate winds from behind cause the range flags to fishtail from side to side. 

 

1pm. After 600m, the scores are as follows (out of a maximum possible 1200):

South Africa 1192

USA 1185

England 1177

Ireland 1172

Wales 1110

Conditions remain clear and sunny, incredibly bright and hot. 

 

3pm - South Africa and England put in a strong performance at 800m (587 each) whilst the USA dropped 19 points and Ireland 25. 

So far South Africa have dropped 21 points, USA 34 and England 36. The last range is typically the most significant, and so all is still to play for as we head into the final leg of the competition.

3.26pm - firing at 900m commences. 

4pm - South Africa drop a further 7 points at 900m by the time half of their team has shot. The USA team have dropped 6 points upon reaching the same milestone. England purposefully delay the start of their 900m campaign, hoping for better conditions. 

4.20pm - South Africa drop a further 6 points between 2 additional firers, whilst England and the USA purposefully slow down their rate of fire.

4.30pm - South Africa finish the match with 2362.251. In all past occasions that the match has been held, it has been won by either Great Britain or the USA. It seems the winner's club of two has just become a club of three. Whilst both England and the USA have yet to finish, the South African total cannot be beaten. Well done South Africa. 

4.50pm - USA finish in 2nd place with 2349.217.

England finish in 3rd place with 2340.218.

America Match Team Selection

Captain - James Watson

Adjutant - Emma Cannings

Coaches - Parag Patel, Jon Underwood

Firers - Glyn Barnett, James Lewis, Dom de Vere, Kelvin Ramsey

          - Toby Raincock, Matt Purdy, Ant Ringer, Paul Kent

Reserves - Alex Williams, Ali Brown, Andy Daw

 

1st/2nd/3rd/4th April

1st April - packing and international travel

If reversing past the 400 yard firing point on Century is a good start to an international tour, then the England Team to South Africa got off to a tremendous start. 

Prior to the team’s departure from Bisley, Jumbo played his Vice Captain role with aplomb, keeping the barman busy while the packing of rifles and shooting gear took place in the Surrey. Somewhat overweight and causing a lot of expense, the team's kit (not Jumbo) finally got loaded and we were off!
 
 
2nd April - the drive from Johannesburg to Bloemfontein
 
Arrival in Bloemfontein was celebrated with the team’s first supper, an obligatory steak evening in the Block & Cellar. The team polished off a jeroboam and 3 magnums of Pinotage, and (most) then headed off to bed to catch up on sleep missed on the flight.
 
 
3rd April - the first day of individual competitions hosted by SABU (Sou African Bisley Union)
 
A 6am breakfast and 6.45am departure proved an ambitious target, nonetheless Africa is a beautiful country at first light and the 30 minute drive to the range across bush and grassland is a scenic start to the day. Once shooting started, the winds proved fickle, flickering back and forth, left and right like a lizard’s tongue. The afternoon saw platoons of cotton wool marching across the skies, creating challenges for firers (as changes in brightness affect the reflection of light through shooters’ sights). It was an important day on the range as firers checked their zeros (Bloemfontein is considered a relatively high altitude range at 1,400m and the lightness of air has an effect on a bullet's trajectory), and all were reminded how difficult the wind conditions can be - constantly changing as the earth warms up and the sun moves across the sky throughout the day.
 
 
4th April - the second day of individual competitions
Today exhibited more classically Bloem weather, with the wind blowing from the right in the morning,and moving round to the left in  early afternoon. The day's scores won't be announced until tomorrow night but several team members put in strong performances during this day of individual competitions. 
Aside from keeping a beady eye on the targets, there were several opportunities to cop a look at the local wildlife - dawn is heralded by the cooing of pigeons and the squeaking of hundreds of small starlings. Zebras and elegant giraffes festoon the grasslands on the drive from the hotel to the range. Springbok prance through the fawn coloured savannah startled by the passing minibuses. Dinner also provides an opportuity to sample some of the local wildlife, which generally appears medium-rare.