The Long View
Its a standing joke at Diggle that you always take suncream and waterproofs to the range, but you
don’t need the suncream very often. The first “official” league shoot of 2021 would prove taking it
is a good idea.
The league shoots at Diggle are usually May and June. It is always risky in the UK with outdoor
sports, you can’t control the weather and when you have people travelling from all over you just
need some luck that it holds long enough to get the full shoot in. (Nobody likes wasting their time
and money to not shoot but so far the record distance for travelling to a league shoot at Diggle
and having a day abandoned due to rain is a competitor travelling from Iceland !!!). This time the
forecast looked like we might get a break with sunshine forecast for the whole weekend.
So with a good forecast and despite more problems just that week with Covid the comp was
going ahead, all be it socially distanced. We also had a slightly changed format but usual
numbers, 56 GBFCA shooters booked in with places going quickly.
Previous shoots had placed half the entrants in the clubhouse waiting while half the entrants shot.
This was mainly down to the fact we didn’t have much shelter if the rain came. We can all live with
getting wet shooting but standing around getting soaked then shooting was not ideal. Not an
option though this time as the Range House was off limits due to Covid. So everyone would go to
the 1000 yard point, we now needed the forecast to be accurate. All we could do was go for it
and hope the weather would hold so all 56 people could stay on the 1000 yard point over the
weekend. Not only did the weather hold it was sunny all weekend, too sunny for many as a few
shooters over did the sun and the range officers neck and arms, even though basted in factor
gazillion suncream, still managed to look like the token idiot Brit who forgot his sun tan lotion after
a two week holiday in Benidorm…..but that is another story.
The Friday afternoon is always a practice at Diggle, it’s only 600 yards, not ideal but that way the
range doesn’t need to close, but at least that allows a few people to check a few zeros. It is also a
typical Yorkshire price,,,,,,free, as when we started doing this we convinced the PSSA, who run
the range, to let us use the range at no charge Friday PM. At least 20+ people turned up for this to
check their rifles and it also allows the Diggle team to set the range up ready for the weekend
Blair Atholl and Diggle share the silver mountain electronic targets and because you have easy
access to the butts at Diggle we have two guys in the butts all weekend to check on things as the
day goes on….Eric and Pete, down in the butts, proved to be the human link to the electronic
targets that proved how good the silver mountain are, but more of that later.
We can’t start shooting until 9am so we needed everyone to turn up in time to shoot by getting
themselves and their kit to the point. Everyone did, with shooters on the range nice and early so
we could get going on time. We had the club pick up so we ran all the gear up for those that
needed it. Everyone worked together and thanks to all the competitors that took part who all
understood that if we worked together we all get to make the comp a success.
So it’s Saturday morning, it’s 9am, everyone is sitting in the sun, you can see it is a little bit windy,
but not very windy, what can possibly go wrong !
We have two matches per day, 5 details per match, with 2 + 20 twice on Saturday and 2+ 15 then
2+ 20 on Sunday. Day one has FTR up first (as seems to be the way now the vast majority of the
field are FTR as only 17 Open shooters had booked in).
Match one detail one is the top 12 FTR shooters with places worked out from the final 2019
season scores. It’s windy, but the problem that would create mayhem all day was its fish tailing
badly. At approx 4 feet square the target looks massive when you are stood next to it patching it
but from 1000 yards away it is just a speck, even with a scope. So hitting the centre over and over
again is never easy. We all know whoever gets the highest score wins but people are getting used
to days where the winner is in the high 90’s but this was not to be one of those days. Detail one
started and it proved very hard to read the constantly twitching conditions. If it had been constant
it might have only been 3 minute wind but because of the fish tailing one shooter from this detail
suggesting, as they came of the point, that over the course of 20 shots they had gone from 4
minutes right to 1 minute left !
Detail two and three are next, all F TR shooters and they have similar problems if not greater, the
wind has picked up now and therefore increased the fish tailing. This detail certainly had it harder
than detail one. On this detail we are now starting to see some targets with no fall of shot. Now E
targets are not universally popular, some people like the “craic” when pulling targets and it makes
the day go, but it isn’t really practical to have competitor marking at our comps anymore. It is
always hard to know with E targets whether it is a fault or a miss but the wind was a nightmare so
it’s probably a miss. To check though we had a plan involving the butts crew which was told to all
the shooters at the morning brief.
If someone had no fall of shot, we would pull the targets and count the number of holes (each
time a detail finished new targets were presented) so for example if someone had fired 12 shots,
including sighters, there should be 12 holes. The first one was the nail biting moment, the
shooters had fired 27 shots between them, Eric and Pete counted then twice and we had 26
holes…so a miss. it happened again and this time they had just started (no need for Eric and Pete
to take their shoes off this time) only 4 shots…again 3 holes. So the targets are doing exactly
what they are supposed to do.
Everyone was in good spirit though so they carried on till the end of the detail and considering the
weather many of them put in very good scores.
Detail four was the first 12 Open shooters, the sun had got out even more now and the wind had
dropped slightly, but still the extreme fish tailing. Bigger Open calibre and heavy front rest didn’t
seem to be making much difference, they were still getting punished and came off with similar
scores to F T/R.
Detail 5 was the final detail of match one and was a mixed detail of Open and F TR, again the
same conditions and again that same punishing fish tailing wind.
A few shooters did get the hang of it though and worth pointing out that one F T/R shooter, Adam
Bagnall would even have won Open class. But in each class, whoever has the highest score
comes out on top and the winners of Match one are below:
Match two was more of the same but both the sun and the wind decided get stronger, whether
you were shooting or standing watching, either way you get to suffer more. Scores of two from
match one turned into one’s or misses and shots soon got followed by laughter from the good
spirited shooters as the score appeared. If you wanted a new cheap rifle now would be the day to
make an offer as the shooters came off the point.
Detail 6 and 7 got punished but detail 8 must really have upset someone in a previous lifetime
because they certainly got hit by the worst and turned into the detail from hell, with more than 5
minute changes between some shots. As the lambs to the slaughter settled down to shoot the
1st Adam Bagnall 84.03
2nd Peter Dommett…78.03
3rd Richie Jones…73.02
1st Tom Reynolds 81.04
2nd Pat Allen 81.03
3rd Gordon Waugh 81.03
wind really picked up and I have never seen such extreme changes, that don’t appear to show on
most flags, in 20 years of shooting at Diggle. It was as if Diggle was trying to compete with Blair
for the title of hardest range in the world. Many local shooters probably had their worst score ever
at the Diggle1000 yards point with several closer to their inside leg measurement than the max
score of 100.
This was the detail that had the most “questions” over the e targets validity. We had at least 5
challenges for misses and on each occasion we pulled the target, counted the holes and the
targets got proven correct. Nobody wants to miss but let’s just say the targets worked. Obviously
things can go wrong with electrical equipment and working perfectly this weekend doesn’t mean
they work perfectly forever but anyone who now doesn’t trust them should have been at Diggle
that day. A lot of shots got fired over the course of the weekend, 56 shooters, 80 rounds per
person is a lot of shots and we had over 130 misses (yes 130, so it effected everyone). its’ a hard
target and put that with extreme weather and sometimes, even some of the best the UK has to
offer can miss.
Detail 9 and 10 was again the 12 Open followed by the mixed detail. Again more punishing and
again the Open calibre still got caught out by the wind. With these massive changes in direction of
the wind it was more about being brave with the wind call than having the Open calibre
advantage. By now they had been waiting a long time in the sun and they still managed good
scores considering the weather. We also had a bonus for medals this time as Richie had
organised an agg for both the Saturday and the Sunday so some lucky punters had the chance of
winning more medals.
The day went quicker than expected with details moving on and off the point swifty and before
everyone headed off to lick their wounds or cool down we had the AGM (AGM report will soon be
available on the GBFCA site along with the Treasurers report) which was over in about half an
hour with no hiccups and just one AOB question about doing more for the final shoot of the year
to make it more of a “function”which was though by all to be a good idea.
So day one over, plenty of good spirits, but a lot of tired shooters looking like they had too much
sun. People went their own way to the pubs, hotels or home but by most accounts hardly any late
nights (not like F Class shooters) but whether you took a beating from the wind or the sun it had
been a long day.
1st Carrie Ryan 79.02
2nd David Rollafson 76.00
3rd Mark Webb…73.01
1st Gary Costello 85.03
2nd Hugh Inglis 80.04
3rd Mike Marsh 80.02
1st Adam Bagnall 144.05
2nd Dean Wallace 143.04
3rd David Rollafson 142.03
1st Gary Costello 165.08
2nd Mike Marsh 160.05
3rd Tom Reynolds 159.04
By now everyone new the score and arrived in plenty of time, with kit on the point ready for a
second day of torture. As usual we reversed the shooting order so Open would be up first this
time. With everyone arriving nice and early we kicked of at 9am on the dot. Today would be 2 + 15
first and the day started much calmer and with a right wind that was far more consistent. There
was also a few people asking about the chance of rain. Not because of the forecast, it was how
the range officer was dressed. Coat on, hood up with barely anything visible. This wasn’t due to
expected rain though, this was after 9 hours in the sun the previous day this was thought the best
thing to do to keep the sun off, the ultimate sun block.
Open were up first. This was match three detail one but It still wasn’t easy, the wind was still
picking up and dropping off so maximum scores seemed unlikely. The first 12 Open shooters did
well and when people saw the scores (Richie had brought his wailing wall idea from Bisley which
worked equally as well on a normal TV) they realised that today might be a tad more straight
forward. It was still very warm and humid but not as sunny so it was a bit more what UK shooters
had become accustomed to and by the time that Open had finished and F T/R started the
weather had become more consistent for all.
Once the 15 round match 3 had finished it became evident that the scores would be much higher
today than the day before and no queries of the E targets and virtually no misses. The standard
was very high the whole weekend, but it shows you that when the weather is better and the wind
is more familiar and readable it is easier to believe the targets.
Match four was the final match 2 + 20 to finish the weekend. The wind was dropping now so the
scores increased, that isn’t taking anything away from the shooters, it is a small target regardless
but now people were scoring 10 – 15 more points than the previous day.
Again we had a Sunday Agg with results below:
So that was it for Diggle, just one comp this year. All that was left was for the prize giving where
the overall results revealed a close finish in F T/R (was this a clean sweep for the Altcar’s 101
1st Carrie Ryan 71.06
2nd Jim Marsden 70.06
3rd Mark Webb 70.05
1st Ian Bellis 73.11
2nd Tom Reynolds 73.07
3rd Paul Sandie 73.05
1st David Rollafson 93.05
2nd Dan Lomas 93.05
3rd Steve Rigby 90.05
1st Gary Costello 94.09
2nd Hugh Inglis 94.06
3rd Lance Vinall 94.05
1st Carrie Ryan 160.11
2nd David Rollafson
3rd Dan Lomas
1st Gary Costello 167.13
2nd Hugh Inglis 165.10
3rd Pat Allen 163.04
club ?) but Adam Bagnall took the win by one point from David Rollafson with Carrie Ryan a very
close third. Not quite as close in Open though with Gary Costello 13 points clear of second place
Diggle shooter Tom Reynolds who the week before had celebrated his 18th birthday so not a bad
belated present and Paul Sandie a close third.
It had been a great weekend, everything worked and all made possible by the back room team
behind the scenes at Diggle who had spent weeks doing everything from making targets to
running kit around the range in the pick up. The largest gathering on Diggle since Covid began 14
months earlier had gone well. Under the circumstances of the extreme wind conditions there had
been some very good scores. GBFCA shooters had adapted under Covid and we had brought a
few new things to the shoot, such as the TV scores, we have a few more ideas in the pipeline and
at least got off to a good start for the first shoot of the year where the results would count towards
the 2021 championships. Bisley was next in July and hopefully some good weather again, but
hopefully not quite that hot ?