Retaining the National Titles
Matthew Canning retained both National Titles at BRC Shooting Club, Dublin on Oct 12th & 13th.
Yes I was talking in the third person there. My name reads much better than the word I :).
Blessed By The Weather
October in Ireland is a month you could not gamble on getting two days back to back for satisfactory shooting conditions. We are lucky if we get that in August let alone October.
This year was different. The few days before the National weekend the days were miserable with heavy rains and wind. Friday afternoon told a different story, it all seemed to have blown over and left some hope of calm in the air.
Early Starts and Cold Steel
Saturday morning alarms are not a great thing in my book. I prefer to waken at my own speed. However up I got to the range where the lungs got a fill of the morning chill. Targets needed putting out and the cold damp steel of a handful of chickens drove the blood from my fingers.
As each animal lined out in military fashion it was a sight of delight for the competitors. A weekend of reckoning for one and all.
Sighters and Fighters
As the blood drained back into my digits it was time to get this show on the road and fire those opening sighter shots. Not so rusty, I was dropping my quota of sighters, but there was the ever optimistic Turkey and Ram that would stand its ground and fight back like it was rutting season. ‘Sure wouldn’t it be too easy if we could knock them all down all the time.’
Shooters Too The Line
I put myself in for two early details as I had plans later in the afternoon. ‘A good thing or not I am not so sure off.’ From the first chicken I had a shaky start and was fighting myself all the way until my final shot echoed a not so impressive score of 28/40. But a score I would readily keep, considering it was the dropping of 9 Rams that took the embarrassment out of that score line. One Match Down One to go…
With a break between shoots I was happy to fuel up on my second breakfast of the day. The cold was beginning to work its way into my bones. A hot drink was needed.
Personally I didn’t focus too much on how the other shooters were performing as I had some preparation work before my next detail. ‘I had to zone in and zone out’.
Building A Lead
My 2nd and final detail of the day had arrived. ‘It was time to make it count for something if I wanted to build a lead going into Day 2’. There was only one person that could make that happen!
I felt a calmness all over. My rifle hold settled down, the wee stray kitten ‘that I named black jack’ was flitting in and out between our feet and my breathing had become as smooth as butter.
Using a few stress and relaxation techniques that I have used in the past were paying dividends as my target acquisition was improving with every shot. Scoring 10 pigs in this match gave me a boost as I moved into the latter stages to Turkeys and Rams where I finished off with a score of 32/40.
With the competition hot on my heels there was nothing more that I could do now. It was theirs too win. A hot mug of green tea and a couple of biscuits in my hand were my only distraction from watching on as each shooter took to the line to achieve their own personal goals.
Sunday Silhouette Service
Some people go to mass on a Sunday morning and some turn up to the silhouette range. Guess which one we choose.
Day 2 brought a better day. A milder morning, the breeze all but a hot breath on your cheek. I opted for an early start to rattle out the remainder of my nerves. Joined on the line with 4 others we began sending lead in the direction of the pesky chickens. Not all dropped for me but I had a healthy start to my shoot. Keeping my mind on myself and my eyes on my own sights I worked through my shooting plan. Once the final Ram 10 from 10 dropped I had tallied up a neat 33/40. This was an improvement on Day One and a score that I had only achieved at the beginning of my 2013 season, until now. A great confidence winner…
Shooting plans are always a good thing to have. It allows the mind to focus on something positive and not veer off into silliness.
Target Resets and a bit of food and I was back at it. I was lined out for my final match of the 2013 National Championships. If I could carry the same ‘game face‘ into this match as I did earlier then I was set for a seasons best result.
Working through each target I was losing one per bank. ‘With a quick calculation if this were the case it would leave me on a 32/40. I wanted more. I wanted a top score and this predicted result would not deliver it. I needed to buckle down and apply more focus’.
I had let myself down on the Chickens and Pigs with 8 from 10 and now approaching the latter half of the course of fire I had a quiet word with myself to finish this match off on a high.
I found myself emerged with tunnel vision on Turkeys. I made those first 5 shots count. Suddenly I was all set for a perfect score until I slipped a round just a fraction high over Turkey number 7. Moving into that Point of Aim the next and the next and the next fell gracefully to my rifles bark. It was a 9/10 on those Christmas treats.
My previous three matches had now left me with high expectations on the Rams, especially as I had finished with a perfect 10 earlier that morning.
There wasn’t a breeze at 100 Metres so it was all down to my shooting. Not so welcomed thoughts began creeping into my head, so I had to banish those in the time it took the bolt to close. My first shot was sent on a journey of no return. The final sight picture that I had was of a cross hair high on the Rams back. It wasn’t ideal. ‘I prefer a shot an inch lower to ensure a positive hit‘. Clang the Ram went into convulsions as it stumbled from its feet. The bullet had performed its final act flawlessly. Its journey now complete. Gravity had taken the Ram to its final resting place.
Proceeding with more caution, I continued to knock all but one evasive fellow from his feet. Each of the positive shots were placed nicely on the chest of the Ram as for the one that got away; we will never know its fate.
It worked. My shooting plan had proved the victor. My trusty Anschutz shooting stick and Lapua ammo combination brought me a new seasons best. I had just achieved my top score of the season on the final day of our National Championships. It could not have worked out better. Was it enough to win the event? was it a Gold medal performance? was it enough to retain those prized National titles? My Match was over. I was spent, drained, zapped and fried. It was time for green tea.
Shoot Offs & Sudden Death
Nerves of steel were required for the shooters who were tied on score. The last roll of the dice to trade Bronze for Silver. The Golds had already been decided.
It was East Coast (Wicklow) v Suirside (Tipperary) in the race to take Silver and 2nd Place overall. In the Class Medals it was an all Dublin affair. With all shoot offs going head to head the tension not only could be seen in the shoulders of the competitors but in the eyes of each spectator.
With the Best of 5 Animals all shooters drove their shots down range with little effect. A nerve settler perhaps. In the following shots it was all equal as breaths all around could be heard expelling. No outright winner could be decided at this time.
Now it was Sudden Death. The first to take the lead would become the victor and proud owner of a Silver Championship medal. Again the first shots provided no score. The finger nails of some spectators began to grow shorter as muscles tightened. Suddenly the clatter of a Pig was heard falling and on the next bank a Turkey took flight. Could their counterpart equal the score!!! No it wasn’t to be. The medals had been decided, one Silver medal was of to Suirside and the other remained in Dublin. With huge smiles and some very wide eyes, it was firm handshakes all around to the victors and their equally skilled rivals.
Proud To Be A Member
With the weight of the world ‘well the weight of a Championship‘ now lifted from my shoulders I could look on as my fellow BRC Shooting Club members continued the battle on the field. They dropped Chickens, Pigs, Turkeys and Rams in multiple combinations as the day grew old. Guys like Alex, Alan, Joe, Rod and Tommy all shined. Lynda our only female shooter in the event was unperturbed by all the Alpha male activity at play and went on to out-shoot most of them. Scoring top A Class scores and AA scores in the process. I was proud too be witness to it. Lynda had dreamed of those scores and now that dream had blossomed at a time when it mattered most, at her National Championships. Well done too everyone. It was a pleasure shooting alongside all of you.
Now I got to up my game for 2014