A different day and a different Diggle
Our new Pennine Challenge F/Open Champion is Gary Costello; he seems to be simply unstoppable; winning his second consecutive League Match. Gary is joined by an equally impressive Asad Wahid who has taken F/TR to a whole new plane of high level shooting and in doing so has earned his just reward as F/TR Pennine Challenge Champion.
We made a welcome return to Diggle, our second visit of the season in the space of three weeks for the Pennine Challenge; 75 rounds to count at 800 & 1,000yds. The forecast this time seemed very good indeed. Neil Calder shared his weather app info’ and it appeared to show very little chance of rain at all – somehow though a few errant rainclouds found their way to Diggle on Saturday morning and lingered there.
Neil’s weather forecast indicated the chances of rain being in single digits, it reminded me of an old Statistical gag; “you have exactly a 50:50 chance of being right or wrong, but you’ll have a 90% probability of being wrong”, and something similar often happens to weather forecasts around Diggle.
There were a couple of significant changes to this second outing at Diggle; it was decided to ‘play safe’ and resort to manual target marking until we could be certain that the Silver Mountain electronic targets had been fully investigated and restored. Secondly, numbers were somewhat restricted; down from 70 to 56, effectively reducing the field from 5 details to a more manageable 4. The changes certainly seemed to help transform the weekend into a very efficient, yet enjoyable social occasion. The mostly better weather helped too, but we cannot take credit for that.
To maximise our value for money the course of fire was mostly 2+20s; long barrel-warming tests of endurance, it is surprising just how long it feels like in two completely different situations; when winning and losing. When you’re doing well and have not dropped many points in the ‘first half’, it can seem a terrifyingly long way to safely negotiate the second half while preserving a good score. The other way it can seem unduly long is in the opposite situation, when you drop a shed full of points to begin with and you know you still have a long haul to reach the end and every prospect of dropping even more along the way. Psychology plays a big part in how we handle both scenarios.
It has been the usual custom to squad the F/TR shooters first on Saturday mornings, but just for a change this time it was the F/O shooters who were first to play and as luck would have it, that’s when the only significant rain of the weekend fell. Perhaps it was karma then, as two years ago the F/TR guys got wet in every single Diggle match of the season. The F/O guys had to scramble to find towels and polythene to keep all the shiny bling stuff nice and dry.
Just our luck; the one time when F/Open shoot first and down comes the rain, mercifully though it was not much more than a steady drizzle; nothing really by Diggle standards. It certainly reduced visibility though and we were very thankful for the white V-bulls which stood out and helped us accurately entre the scope reticules.
One guy certainly had no trouble seeing his way to the centre, perhaps his silver High Master March scope helped; Gary Costello established a stunning new 800yd record score of 100.16. Only three shooters got 100; Gary was followed closely behind in second place by our genial Irish friend Mark Bannon and yours truly in third.
- Gary Costello 100.16
- Mark Bannon 100.12
- Des Parr 100.08
By the time we retreated to 1,000yds the drizzle had abated, pushing off up over the Pennine hills to cool off hikers on the not too distant Pennine Way. The damage was done though; everything was sodden and soggy, but that’s life when shooting outdoors in the UK and there is a certain element of ‘character building’ involved in how we learn to cope with such difficulties. The taciturn Scotsman, Paul Sandie certainly should be impervious to rain, he gets enough of it north of the border, Paul used his well-proven 300WSM to good effect in taking gold with 97.5 after a count-back, narrow pipping Jordan Rubio and his boss, Gary Costello.
- Paul Sandie 97.05
- Jordan Rubio 97.05
- Gary Costello 97.04
The F/TR shooters could not believe their good luck in being safely sheltered from the morning rain while marking for the F/O contingent – being in the butts was made all the more convivial by having tea, coffee and biscuits all laid on by the organiser, Les Holgate. When they emerged in the early afternoon, the sun was out, helping to dry out the firing points. The wind was still just a calm and gentle drift, so there was no change there. Conditions were ideal to let the F/TR shooters see just what their rifles and ammo were capable of in near-ideal conditions. Five shooters achieved scores of 100 and count-back were needed to separate them, but ‘primus inter pares’ with 100.11 was Steve Donaldson, making a welcome comeback and showing he’s always a force to be reckoned with. He pushed Asad Wahid and Paul Crosbie to second and third respectively.
- Steve Donaldson 100.11
- Asad Wahid 100.11
- Paul Crosbie 100.10
The shooters and markers were all making very good time, this enabled the last stage of the day to get underway while the super conditions still persisted, such benign wind is a rarity and everyone was really eager to ‘crack on’ and make the most of it.
One guy in particular certainly capitalised on the conditions; Asad Wahid has been putting in a lot of time preparing his rifle and ammo’ and now it really showed, he netted gold with a stunning 99.10 which is a new GBFCA record score. It meant that Asad had only dropped 1 point all day, what a phenomenal performance. John Matthew came second and F/Open convert Simon West was third.
- Asad Wahid 99.10
- John Matthew 98.08
- Simon West 97.08
So that ended the shooting for day 1, what a superb day it had been; a real test of rifles & ammo for everyone and a test of wet weather preparations for some. The mood overall was buoyant and upbeat, it is amazing what a psychological boost can be derived from shooting well, it puts a spring in everyone’s step.
Following on from the shooting, we also had our AGM of the GBFCA, more on that later in a separate piece which will cover all the topics discussed, sufficient to say that the meeting passed in good humour and much goodwill.
It had evidently rained overnight, but the morning was delightfully dry, calm and cool. The forecast was good and we all looked forward in keen anticipation of an excellent day for shooting. The wind, such as it was, had switched round to the more usual south westerly but it seemed to be pretty gentle. Appearances can be deceptive though and it is only when you get down behind the rifle that the true picture emerges; there are often little nuances present that only show up on the target face. Adam Bagnall must have thought he had this stage in the bag with apparently the only 75, but he didn’t reckon with Neil Calder being squadded in a later detail who then racked up an enviable 75.8 it was good to see the big guy back and in good form. Adam had to settle for 2nd and John Matthew was pushed into 3rd.
- Neil Calder 75.08
- Adam Bagnall 75.05
- John Matthew 74.09
As stage 3 had been just a 2+15, it enabled everyone to make good time and press back to 1,000yds by mid-morning, in that short while the wind had warmed just slightly and had become just a bit more twitchy. This tiny added variability showed in the scores compared to the previous day. Only one person seemed total unaffected and actually shot better; that was Paul Harkins, who netted gold with a superb 96.3 fully 3 points ahead of Ewan Campbell and David Lloyd. Incidentally, that’s Ewan’s second stage medal this season, he’s making good progress.
- Paul Harkins 96.03
- Ewan Campbell 93.06
- David Lloyd 93.04
The F/Open contingent lost no time at all in getting out of the butts and back to 800yds in readiness for their shoot, all were anxious to make best use of the fine weather, it looked like it was almost the time to get the sun cream on. Diggle was looking its best as a Churchill would have said; “the broad sunlit uplands”.
Despite appearances, the was not quite as calm and steady as it appeared, it was gentle certainly, but not stable, it was all too easy to lose a point or two. In fact, only one shooter managed to avoid losing any at all to the variable wind and that was Gary Costello with his big new 300WSM. Gary bagged the gold with 75.7 ahead of Paul Sandie, making it a neck-and-neck battle of the big 300WSMs.
- Gary Costello 75.07
- Paul Sandie 74.09
- Des Parr 73.09
By early afternoon the wind had progressed from being deceptively twitchy to being visibly challenging; the changes were rather more pronounced, but at least we could see them –well mostly! There was at least one 180’ degree change of direction that caused much consternation and carnage in the scores. As if that wasn’t enough to contend with, human error also had to be factored in; Paul Sandie had been going toe-to-toe with Gary, until Paul put a perfect V-bull – on the neighbouring target!
Gary prevailed – again! That made it his third stage win of the match with 95.7
Young Jordan Rubio was not far behind though in 2nd, Jordan has been making fast progress in the League, while yours truly took 3rd.
- Gary Costello 95.07
- Jordan Rubio 94.05
- Des Parr 93.04
So that was the end of what had been a most enjoyable weekend of shooting and what a contrast to round 1. Big Richie expressed it perfectly on the GBFCA’s Facebook page; “what a difference a day makes”. The weekend was a joy, just the right balance of numbers, just enough wind to churn things up and just a minimal amount of rain. We had all the ingredients required to make a good match and a good social occasion. Our organiser and Chairman, Les Holgate had done a good job and his last task was to call the troops to attention and present the awards.
On the F/Open side, there was nobody else who could remotely vie with Gary Costello for first place, with 367.34 he was way out there with his beautiful new rifle from Speedy Gonzales and it shoots as well as it looks. Not many shooters have won two consecutive League matches, but if anyone could do it, its Gary when he’s on top form, it was great to see him back and on top again. Jordan Rubio scored 362.27 Jordan has proved himself to be a very fast learner in making rapid progress up the ranks in short order, he is now up there as a contender. It was a great result for March taking the two top slots. Your humble scribe sneaked into third place.
- Gary Costello 367.34
- Jordan Rubio 362.27
- Des Parr 360.27
Turning to F/TR, well what can one say; the match was totally dominated by one man; Asad Wahid stamped his authority on this match. Asad’s score of 363.37 was high enough to beat all the F/Open guys except Gary. It says a lot about Asad that he established a new GBFCA record along the way and came close to a second one, more than half of his shots were V-bulls, the highest V-count of the match, yet he remained unfailingly modest about his achievements. He is a credit to the sport.
Second place was won by local Diggle specialist, John Matthew who shot consistently well all weekend; whatever he’s doing we hope he continues doing it. Third place was won by the 101 Stalwart Adam Bagnall who is never far away from the front.
- Asad Wahid 363.37
- John Matthew 362.24
- Adam Bagnall 360.25
And finally, a “mention in despatches”, for our youngest competitor; Heather made her long range debut and did well – beating a few established shooters on Saturday. Many thanks are due to everyone who helped make the weekend happen, as Matt Jarram said at the AGM; “It doesn’t all just get done by Pixies”.
Ian Dixon for making target frames, Paul Harkins for repairing the SMT eTargets, Les Holgate for all the other arrangements. A big personal thank you for Jim Marsden, not only did he and Mary do a lot of the Range Officer duties, but Jim also towed a certain Scotsman out of a ditch after trying to drive an ageing Skoda to the 1,000yd firing point and instead ending up sliding backwards and getting wedged in the trees. Thanks to Jim and indeed everyone who played a part in making the weekend such a success.
See you all at Bisley in June.