Double Decisive Wins at Diggle
The National League is starting to look like a two-horse race; The Asad & Gary Derby! The two of them continued their domination of the League by winning at Diggle, they can now add the title of “2019 Northern F-class Champion” to their growing shooting CV and have now established a practically unassailable lead in the League rankings.
Our last Diggle match of the season didn’t fail to impress; we had to contend with some of the trickiest wind conditions we’ve seen at Diggle – and of course, rain – it simply wouldn’t be normal if we didn’t get a soaking. It was a weekend of contrasts though; Saturday we had our waterproofs on, and Sunday, we had sun cream on.
We were somewhat apprehensive regarding the weather forecast; on Friday afternoon the rain was absolutely atrocious – a true Diggle Monsoon and we feared for the prospects of getting any shooting on Saturday if that intense rain persisted.
Mercifully, the rain on Saturday abated to a good extent; instead of a prolonged deluge, it came in short, albeit heavy pulses, driven by strong south westerly winds.
Numbers for the match were down a little, especially on the F-Open side, no doubt the unfortunate clash with the Imperial’s 150th Anniversary may have had an effect, it was regrettable and unavoidable, the quality of the entries was still high though; 9 out of 10 the main FTR contenders in the league were present, though admittedly only 4 of the top 10 in F-Open.
Contingency plans were discussed for what to do in the event of another severe rainstorm, so we set out for the range on Saturday morning fully expecting to have to curtail shooting and squeeze into the 1,000yd covered firing point. As is frequently the case though at Diggle, the place seems to have a micro climate of its own and on arrival it was dry at first but we were buffeted by worryingly strong south westerlies pushing up the valley. It was cold too; you could actually see your breath – in mid-July!
F/TR were first into play and is so often the case, just as shooters were getting ready another heavy pulse of rain quickly pushed up over the hills, it was going to get rather grim, so our organiser and range officers decided to minimise the ordeal and curtain the detail from a 2+20 to a more merciful 2+15.
The strong wind looked pretty intimidating; the flag poles were reverberating! As it turned out though, it was a strong, but fairly stable wind and in such a condition, when the mean wind can be found, it is still possible to put in good scores. John Matthew certainly put his local knowledge to good effect by taking the gold.
1. John Matthew 74.07
2. James McCosh 72.05
3. Mike Harris 72.05
Pushing back to 1,000yds, that heavy pulse of rain had been blown far away over the Pennines, so we reverted back to the published course of fire; a lengthy 2+20. The wind stayed strong though still fairly stable; even so it was somewhat intimidating to see the flags maxing out. Dan Lomas wasn’t fazed at all by that, he was the only shooter to break 90.
1. Dan Lomas 90.02
2. Asad Wahid 88.06
3. Adam Bagnall 87.02
The F-Open guys had their work cut out for them in the butts; they had two full details of F/TR shooters to contend with, so by the time they came out to play they were eager to get started while it looked dry. The waterproofs were always to hand though, just in case! That strong wind had not abated in the least, it seemed worryingly windy and the “sneaky sighters” confirmed that at about 5 minutes of windage would be needed; quite a lot at just 800yds. It was surprisingly constant wind though and an element of luck was needed in avoiding any little variations.
1. Des Parr 73.05
2. Hugh Inglis 72.05
3. Gary Costello 72.02
Seeing as 800yds had not been as bad as expected, the F/O shooters repaired back to 1,000yds with a little more confidence – provided that strong wind stayed constant. Mother Nature intervened though to teach us a lesson in humility; now the wind decided to fluctuate up and down and left to right. You could say we were; “making full use of the target” – ahem. Some of the scores would have been respectable if we were at 1,200yds not 1,000yds! That said, Paul Key with his mighty 300RUM cleaved his way to victory showing that the heavy artillery has its benefits at times.
1. Paul Key 86.01
2. Gary Costello 84.04
3. Craig Titmus 82.03
That concluded the fun & games for Saturday and on balance it had worked out to be a far better day than we had anticipated, it was unfortunate of course for the first F/TR detail to get a soaking but hardly surprising given the awful forecast and the rainstorm the day before, it could have been much worse.
We awoke to a beautiful bright, mild and dry day on Sunday morning and due to a very favourable forecast we had every prospect of it continuing. On arriving at the range we noted the gentle breeze, what a contrast from Sunday – this was going to be more of a rifle and ammunition test. It is great for confidence to get such an opportunity to see what one’s rifle can do in ideal circumstances. Across the whole detail, shooters on average dropped just 1 point. Craig Titmus can take great comfort for his superb display of accuracy.
1. Craig Titmus 75.11
2. Hugh Inglis 75.10
3. Mark Bannon 75.10
Now, just as an interesting aside, Gary who had, until now been slotting in a steady string of V-bulls and bull-fives, suddenly scored a ‘2’, a very high ‘2’ up at 12 o’clock. Gary ascribed the cause to the cartridge case displaying pressure signs, and it is a credit to him that he properly identified the cause. But just consider for a moment if that had occurred with an electronic target – anyone could be rightly forgiven for immediately thinking dark thoughts about the reliability of electronics. It just goes to show that odd shots can and do occur, even to the very best of shooters.
In a remarkable example of history repeating itself, when we retired to 1,000yds the wind did the same as it had on Saturday; it started to chop and change, but in a very devilish way; the angle changes were bafflingly difficult to see, consequently shots could go from 3 o’clock to 9 o’clock in a matter of seconds, this resulted in carnage with shots ping-ponging from side to side and points being thrown away like confetti.
Only four shooters managed to break 90 and Gary Costello can derive great satisfaction from his performance which was to prove decisive.
1. Gary Costello 93.05
2. Mark Bannon 92.03
3. Craig Titmus 91.01
Seeing as there was only one detail of F/Open shooters, the morning passed very quickly indeed and in no time at all, the F/TR squad were able to get out and enjoy the warmth – indeed, sun cream was in evidence, what a difference a day makes from being able to see your breath the day before.
The F/TR shooters wasted no time in making hay while the sun shone, they racked up many impressive scores; all bar seven shooters scored in the 70’s. It wasn’t without an element of drama though when a disputed score took some time to resolve resulting in an unfortunate distraction to other shooters, the Association may in future look into having a match official on hand to adjudicate on matters quickly. That aside, it was a pleasurable stage resulting in respectable scores all round, Paul Binns can take particular pleasure in achieving the only ‘possible’ in F/TR.
1. Paul Binns 75.08
2. Dan Lomas 74.10
3. Adam Bagnall 74.08
By the time we fell back to 1,000yds it was warm enough to shed unwanted layers, seek shelter from the sun in the covered firing point and even feel quite soporific, how glorious is that? Warming air can however, bring about effects no shooter wants; the air becomes unstable; prone to shifting randomly and producing mirage.
Bearing in mind the wind was still fairly strong then the combined effects made this stage a real challenge of marksmanship. In such situations, the cream rises to the top and so Asad could be rightfully proud of his score; the highest of day including F/O.
1. Asad Wahid 93.07
2. Simon West 91.05
3. Ewan Campbell 89.04
That ended our last visit to Diggle for 2019, how sad it is think that we’ve reached the halfway point of the season already, it seems like it has hardly begun. Shooters converged on the car park from the firing point and butts to conduct post-mortems on what went wrong, where and why. Meanwhile Brian Fox seemed to be doing a brisk trade with a captive audience of shooters looking for more stuff – all after that extra bit of kit that just might make all the difference next time.
Our Chairman and match organiser, Les Holgate called the troops to attention and make the awards accordingly.
Our new F/TR Northern F-class Champion is Asad Wahid who won by a country mile, his score of 322.16 was a full ten points ahead of his nearest rival and was the highest score of the entire match, including F/Open. Asad has been assiduous in his match preparation and it clearly shows through; he absolutely deserves his win.
Dan Lomas took silver with 312.21, after shooting consistently well all weekend; he really seemed to have a good grasp of Diggle conditions. In third came Simon West on 312.20, we jokingly queried if he was using an F/Open rifle, but clearly Simon can shoot very well regardless of what he uses.
Gary Costello shot superbly all weekend has now added his third League Match trophy of 2019 and all three won at Diggle, I’m not certain, but that could be a record; winning all three in the same season is possibly unrivalled. Clearly he is back on top form in every way. Our Irish friend Mark Bannon had an excellent weekend winning two stage medals along the way and taking the second place with 319.18. Richard Huby came in and under the radar with 317.21, having not featured in the medals, but having shot consistently well all weekend using his extensive local knowledge of Diggle.
And finally, Jim and Mary Marsden are owed a great debt of gratitude for all their efforts on our behalf; they were on their feet all weekend in all weathers, running the firing points, we would be lost without them and we’re lucky indeed to have such good folk to help us. Thanks to them and Tony Gray for building the targets too and to our Chairman Les Holgate for organising it all.
Next month, we make a welcome return to Blair Atholl for match 5 of the season; The Scottish Championships – see you there.