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3 days ago
Though first the small matter of the second stage in the morning, making for either a very busy day, or the opportunity for a leisurely lunch. 0830 and the great & the good (and a few of us fair-to-middling flukeys) lined up once again at 300yds, as was so familiar to a few of us from the day before. The second stage of HM the Queen’s Prize is a serious affair and poses a much greater challenge than the first stage; more shots (10 to count rather than 7), less rest (300, 500 and 600yds one straight after another), greater pressure (well, you’re shooting your way into/out of the final) and on this occasion, the NRA had clearly been communing with the deities again to ensure much more brisk conditions than the same time the previous day. That said, brisk but to start relatively steady. Other than the occasional “hole” in the wind (yup, found one of those…) very little adjustment beyond initial sight-setting was required and the worst points dropped were due to personal, rather than air pressure. One trigger snagged on settling, one cross shot… You won’t win it at 300, but you can sure as hell lose it there. The morning followed a common theme, noted by now by both shooters and regular readers. The week’s twitchy winds soon built and in the time it took to walk back to 500yds, the familiar gusts and dips were present, just waiting to catch those with an otherwise tight grip on conditions. Points dropped were now not uncommon. More of the same followed at 600, before strength started to cut back in the second half, forcing groups right and shot out upwind. Those who cracked it were rewarded; seven 150s were on the board, with Barry Le Cheminant of Jersey showing, with 24 Vs, that lack of recent access to Bisley is no impediment when, frankly, you really know what you’re doing. Kelvin Ramsey followed closely on 23 Vs and Rick Shouler added to a strong meeting with the same, counting back only on Vs at 600yds. The last of the best was Harriet Walker, taking the 50th place on 148.15 for the last place in he reduced-size final.
A quick turnaround and brief, athlete’s lunch was in order for those lucky (well, talented) fifty, as the final started at 900yds on the nose of 2:30pm. Some were deprived of most of this, with a couple of tie shoots between the two for Queen’s first stage and the Gurkha Appeal, both won convincingly by Rosanne Furniss (25.4 both times). Five shoots down and no points dropped. Tidy.
Morning conditions continued to deliver, with flag showing strong and broadside from the right with the occasional dip, twist and god-knows-what to catch out the unaware. Only three 75s were seen, the tidiest being Paul Sykes with 10 Vs, followed closely by seasoned Queen’s veteran David Luckman (9V) and 2020 rising star Charlie Dart (8V). Quite some feat for a shoot which otherwise saw a 66.2 and eight other scores below the 70 benchmark. 1000yds lived up to its reputation with no 75s seen, though incredibly 18 firers still improved on their 900yds performance. By barely half-way through form was beginning to show, with a clear battle for the top involving many of the top firers from both the second stage and 900yds. The names Luckman and Dart were soon joined by John Bloomfield and Matt Button, with steady shooting all day seeing Oliver Spencer steadily rising towards, then into, the leading pack. The odd point dropped and nothing much changed, but another unlucky inner for Dart and Bloomfield dropped them back a step and with work to do for the race to the top. Meanwhile, Button kept ahead of them on Vs and Spencer’s steady work kept him safe, but by time all shots were fired there was clearly no substitute for the experience of working under pressure that Commonwealth experience gives you. David Luckman had done it again, with Oliver Spencer’s consistency earning him the Silver Badge and Matt Button’s tight shooting taking the bronze on Vs alone.
A degree of determination and careful thinking ensured that Covid would not undo decades of tradition and though the evening’s chair party around the clubhouses had to be abandoned (hey, he’s done it before anyway…) “Lucky” (GM2) was chaired off the range by a slightly reduced (and therefore slightly harder worked) bearer party, in true eccentric Bisley style to a brass band rendition of the music of Cliff Richard…
As for the rest of us? Well, there’s always next year.
- AL ... See MoreSee Less
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