2019 Bisley Round 3 – Long Range Challenge

What a wonderful weekend of shooting!

This was what we look forward to all year; competing in tricky conditions with good friends in good weather with good rifles and ammo’, it doesn’t get any better than that. There is no better place to be than Bisley in the summer, it seems so very far removed away from all the talk of Brexit, Boris and the Backstop, it is a world away from all that and long may it continue.

Our new Long Range Challenge Champions are; Jon Longhurst and Joe West, they are our worthy champions having prevailed over all comers under very testing wind conditions, congratulations to the pair of them.

This Long Range Challenge may go down in the history of the League as being one of the most interesting we have ever witnessed. We have seen much stronger winds in the past and we’ve also been soaked and scorched in the past, but this was different; it was simply a true test of wind-reading in very difficult wind conditions, it was an ideal contest of wind-reading, marksmanship and rifle accuracy. Every League match has its fair share of ups and downs; mishaps that seem to occur at just the most inconvenient time to upset a shooter’s day; such is life, these things never seem to happen at club shoots, this match was no exception. We had; two scopes that failed, one case head separation, one extractor failure and at least two shooters with over-pressure ammo’, speaking of which we were aware that the NRA were conducting some random HME tests, we were on guard, but to my knowledge nobody was pulled in for testing – this time.

Without further ado, onto the task in hand; aiming to hit tiny targets far away! At almost 2 thirds of a mile away in this match! Note I said aiming at them – not necessarily hitting them, but therein lies the challenge that brings us back every time.

Saturday Stage 1

The F/TR competitors were first into the breech on Saturday morning, their experience was to set the scene for the day; although it looked reasonably benign, it was far from that; this was Bisley at its best, displaying some very subtle pick-ups and let-offs with possibly unseen shifts in angle. All of these variable factors conspired to keep shooters on their toes; constantly scanning the flags, the mirage and the other targets for any tell-tale clues. The scores coming off the firing point said it all; just six shooters out of forty managed to break 70. Pre-eminent of those was Simon West with 72.04 who is relatively new to F/TR. Simon appears to have forsaken F/Open for a while, looking for new challenges to stretch him.

1. Simon West 72.04

2. Dan Lomas 72.00

3. Jon Longhurst 71.04

Listening to their F/TR colleagues coming off the firing point with tales of woe, the F/O guys knew what to expect; this was not going to be an easy start to their match. If anything, the conditions became even trickier; the propensity for rapid changes was still there, but the magnitude of the changes appeared to be significantly larger, this rapidly and strongly changing wind condition cancelled out any ballistic advantage the F/O shooters might have had and consequently their scores were even more depressed than the F/TR detail, in fact only two shooters could break 70 out of 32 in total. Lance Vinall is always a strong contender in any match and he proved this again by topping out with 72.05.

1. Lance Vinall 72.05

2. Gary Costello 70.02

3. Paul Sandie 69.05

Stage 2

By mid-morning we had pressed back to the first of the distances that make the Long Range Challenge unique; the 1,100yds stage. The added 100yds belied the actual increase in difficulty presented to the shooters; it was not a proportionate 10% increase, if only it was that simple, instead the challenge seemed to have a rather disproportionate effect, this time none of the F/TR guys managed to break 70 at all. It is all relative as they say and the best still rise to the challenge, so it seemed anyway as the scores came in and it transpired that two out of the top three shooters were the same as at stage 1; chief among these was Dan Lomas with 62.01

1. Dan Lomas 62.01

2. Jon Longhurst 61.01

3. Rob Clarkson 61.01

By late morning some common features were emerging from the accounts given by shooters; the conditions were at times quite baffling with contrary flags and mirage indications, perhaps indicative of a swirling motion cantered over the range that produced contradictory readings on the flags and mirage depending on where one’s attention was focussed. It was all very stressful and it showed in the scores; only one F/O shooter managed to break 70; that was Joe West.

1. Joe West 70.05

2. Paul Sandie 66.02

3. Jordan Rubio 65.03

There was much food for thought over the lunch break; clearly this year’s Long Range Challenge was shaping up to be even more of a challenge than usual. Yet having said that, it was of a pleasant sort; we were all shooting in bright warm and dry conditions and our only difficulty was more of an intellectual challenge of a sort. This is shooting at its best. There was much talk of converting 4’s as it seemed that just being able to stay in the 4 ring was as much as could be reasonably expected. Just to add to the confusion, the prevailing wind changed direction during the lunch break.

Stage 3

1,200yds is the other distinctive feature of the Long Range Challenge, we hardly get any experience of this, the longest distance and it is way more difficult than the added 200yds would imply. It has sometimes been something of a lottery for the F/TR shooter, this was not quite a game of chance, it was a manageable, albeit a very difficult task. Just three F/TR shooters averaged a 4 for each shot and thereby broke 80; chief among these three was Jon Longhurst earning gold to add to his earlier two medals. Notably, Jon seemed to shoot better as the distances increased progressing from Bronze at 1,000yds through Silver at 1,100yds culminating in his Gold.

1. Jon Longhurst 83.05

2. Peter Dommett 80.02

3. David Rollafson 80.00

The wind just seemed to get ever more diabolically difficult with pick-ups, let-offs and even a reversal or two! By the end of the 1,200yds stage I confessed to being “lost”, my windage turret indicated it was at zero, but that could have been five minutes out in either direction – or at true zero, the chops and changes had all come so quickly and so strongly that it was baffling to keep up with them. By an odd coincidence, just as it had been for the F/TR guys, only three F/O shooters achieved an average of a 4, resulting in a score of 80 or better. Of these three, Richard Sharman was the stand out performer with an astonishing score of 86.02, a remarkable achievement in the tricky conditions.

1. Richard Sharman 86.02

2. Jordan Rubio 84.02

3. Paul Sandie 81.03

The 1,200yds stage will be long remembered for being a very tough detail, those who prevailed over their peers can be rightly proud of their performance.

Sunday Stage 4

Sunday dawned bright and beautiful another warm dry day, the wind looked gentle. Normally F/TR and F/O take turns about in getting the early morning first detail, due to some error on my part the F/TR shooters were squadded first on both days, not many noticed though it did confuse our range officers; Jim and Steve. This was one of those mornings when conditions look so good that the match is just there, “ready for the taking”, while it was considerably easier than stage 1, it wasn’t perfect nobody cleaned it though 18 shooters did get 70 or more. Asad Wahid came closest to a possible with 74.05 a just reward for all his dedication and hard work.

1. Asad Wahid 74.05

2. Neil Calder 73.05

3. Simon West 73.05

Despite the conditions appearing to be ideal, there were still some annoying little eddy currents present that confounded most shooters, most but not all; three talented shooters managed to keep them all in, the most prominent of these being John Howe showing he still has it with a good 75.07.

1. John Howe 75.07

2. Gareth James 75.04

3. Gary Costello 75.04

Stage 5

For our last stage of the match, we stayed at 1,000yds but to maximise the difficulty and value for money, we shot a barrel-burning long 2+20. Those extra five rounds can seem like an eternity – both when things are going well and when not. Mercifully, it seemed as though Mother Nature had relented and had decided to give us one nice and gentle detail with none of the previous devilish chops and changes. It enabled shooters to really see what their rifles and ammo were capable of in good conditions, this was gratifying to most but mortifying to some, there is no hiding place in such circumstances and the only resolution is to do more load development. The F/TR shooters have taken the .308 cartridge to a whole new level of superb accuracy and it shows when given half a chance; this was their opportunity to really demonstrate that they had done their homework. It was abundantly clear that Ian Chenery had been using his time away productively; he racked up an astonishing 97.10 to convincingly take Gold, what a super return to form for Ian.

1. Ian Chenery 97.10

2. Adam Williams 96.05

3. Stuart Anselm 95.08

The F/O shooters also relished this wonderful opportunity to see what their rifles and ammo were capable of, out of 32 shooters, all but 3 scored in the 90’s. It was a most gratifying and reassuring end to the Match. One shooter above all can take pride and pleasure in having a superbly accurate rifle and that’s Gary Costello who emphatically won gold with an excellent 99.11.

1. Gary Costello 99.11

2. Des Parr 99.09

3. Tony Price 99.08

That ended the 2019 Long Range Challenge; it had certainly lived up to its name; a challenging match for sure, but carried out in gloriously warm and dry conditions, this was Bisley at its best. Throughout the match, Tina and Alan Baldry had collected scores, double-checked and sorted them, I am grateful for their help. Our Range Officers, Jim and Steve had conducted the whole match efficiently and with good humour throughout. And finally, many thanks are owed to the match organiser, Mik who arranged everything and still found the time to help so many shooters with their rifles and queries all weekend. The Worthy Winners The new 2019 Long Range Challenge Champion in F/TR is Jon Longhurst, Jon romped home to win the match emphatically, taking 3 stage medals in the process. Jon’s score of 381.19 was comfortably 14 points ahead of his nearest rival and would have placed him in 3rd place in F/Open! Second place was won by the ever-cheerful and optimistic Asad Wahid with 367.14 Asad is reaping the benefits of all the considerable time and money he has spent on perfecting his shooting skills. Third place was taken by Simon West with 366.15 Simon has shown that he is a very skilful top shooter in any discipline he chooses to compete in. Our new 2019 Champion in the F/Open Long Range Challenge is Joe West who won with a superb 386.17 Joe certainly is a “chip off the old block” seeing as he and his Father each featured on the podium in both disciplines, and with good shooting genes like that, clearly this young man has a great future ahead of him. Not far behind in Second place came the taciturn Scotsman Paul Sandie with 384.23, Paul has tuned his big 300WSM to perfection and it really shows when it counts. In third place came your humble scribe. We look forward to doing it all again at Diggle next month, see you there! Des Parr

The F/O shooters also relished this wonderful opportunity to see what their rifles and ammo were capable of, out of 32 shooters, all but 3 scored in the 90’s. It was a most gratifying and reassuring end to the Match. One shooter above all can take pride and pleasure in having a superbly accurate rifle and that’s Gary Costello who emphatically won gold with an excellent 99.11. 1. Gary Costello 99.11 2. Des Parr 99.09 3. Tony Price 99.08 That ended the 2019 Long Range Challenge; it had certainly lived up to its name; a challenging match for sure, but carried out in gloriously warm and dry conditions, this was Bisley at its best. Throughout the match, Tina and Alan Baldry had collected scores, double-checked and sorted them, I am grateful for their help. Our Range Officers, Jim and Steve had conducted the whole match efficiently and with good humour throughout. And finally, many thanks are owed to the match organiser, Mik who arranged everything and still found the time to help so many shooters with their rifles and queries all weekend. The Worthy Winners The new 2019 Long Range Challenge Champion in F/TR is Jon Longhurst, Jon romped home to win the match emphatically, taking 3 stage medals in the process. Jon’s score of 381.19 was comfortably 14 points ahead of his nearest rival and would have placed him in 3rd place in F/Open! Second place was won by the ever-cheerful and optimistic Asad Wahid with 367.14 Asad is reaping the benefits of all the considerable time and money he has spent on perfecting his shooting skills. Third place was taken by Simon West with 366.15 Simon has shown that he is a very skilful top shooter in any discipline he chooses to compete in. Our new 2019 Champion in the F/Open Long Range Challenge is Joe West who won with a superb 386.17 Joe certainly is a “chip off the old block” seeing as he and his Father each featured on the podium in both disciplines, and with good shooting genes like that, clearly this young man has a great future ahead of him. Not far behind in Second place came the taciturn Scotsman Paul Sandie with 384.23, Paul has tuned his big 300WSM to perfection and it really shows when it counts. In third place came your humble scribe. We look forward to doing it all again at Diggle next month, see you there!

Des Parr

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