Galloway Small Arms Club Gelston 1000Yd Benchrest Open shoot – 23rd July 2017
Firstly, apologies for the delay in getting the report out. Family, work etc.
After the deluge that parts of Dumfries & Galloway suffered on Saturday 22nd, it looked like the decision by the organisers to delay the erection of the gazeebo to the Sunday morning proved the correct option. However, that meant an unusually early start for 4 intrepid members of the club, otherwise known as Darrel & Lewis McIlreavy, yours truly and the unfortunate Davie Rankin who had blagged a lift from me before he realised the early start…. Anyway, arriving at the range around 07:30, the advance party immediately set about preparing the firing point and pulling out the gazeebo. We were joined around 08:00 by the follow up party, Catherine McIlreavy who was attending to help with the booking in of the competitors and to take publicity photos and Glyn Cartwright. In short time the gazeebo, along with roof was erected by which time there was a steady stream of people arriving to aid in the completion of the gazeebo and to set up the targets. Thanks folks, your early arrival was most appreciated.
The reason for all this unnatural early activity? It’s the annual GSAC Open Shoot where we are traditionally joined by our English benchrest counterparts from Diggle and with the projected numbers time was going to be tight to get through all the details and allow our visitors to depart at a reasonable time. With the aid of Catherine everyone was signed on and entry fees paid by 9am and with a bit of judicious planning by the competition secretary the 1st 3 details (all light gun) were notified and ready to go shortly after. It had become apparent though that due to work, the previous day’s weather and people not turning up that we had lost 5 of the expected competitors so the tight time factor of the day was eased by the loss of 1 detail. Oh, the weather! Well, let’s just say that having shot in howling switching winds and precipitation of some description all year which has tested the mettle of even the experienced shooters, on the very day we are joined by the Diggle Dollopers what does the weather do…. Yup, you’ve guessed it; it’s the stillest day we’ve encountered in almost 2 years of running the open shoot. And no rain either. Would you believe it? Would it stay that way? Well let’s find out.
9.30 am and the butts crew are in position, the 1st detail is on the benches and we’re ready to go. First up we have 3 of our visitors in Vince Bottomley, Jack Gibb (who is leaving immediately after shooting his detail) and Alex Carson along with regular Davie Rankin. Sighting in on the tennis balls on the backstop was as quick as would be expected from the calibre of people on the firing point and the butts crew was quickly called upon to erect the targets. So, how did they get on in the light winds of Gelston? Arriving at the targets, it was immediately apparent that there were experienced benchrest shooters on the line with what I estimated to be 3 sub-10 inch groups, but measuring would tell. Vince with an 8, Davie out in the 15s, Jack in the 8s but best of all, and with his personal best ever at 1000yds, Alex Carson with a very respectable 4.212”. Targets quickly patched out and a quick trip in the range vehicle to the safe point for the butts crew and we’re ready to go again. Vince getting his eye in is down in the 4s. In fact, not only is he down in the 4s, he’s tied Alex’s 1st relay measure of 4.212”. Is there going to be a fight for the Smallest Group Cup? Not only that, Vince records the 1st closest to the bull worth measuring at 1”. Davie out in the 17s this time, Jack just a fraction into the 7s but Alex slipping out to a 15. Next relay and the wind has picked up slightly. In the 7s for Vince, Davie putting in a better group and cracking the 10s with a 9.685, Jack slipping still further and now in the low 9s, Alex comes in a bit with a low 12. Final relay and I’m paying close interest to the range flags from the 4x4. Yup, I was right…. Vince has been bitten and is out in the low 14s, Davie in the mid 15s and Jack just into the 12s by 7 thou, but wait, what’s this? Alex is down in the 7s with his 6BR. Unfortunately for him there’s also 1 penalty. The wind has caught everyone out and while the 3 previous shooters all managed to hang onto the right hand edge of the target (just in one case. For said persons benefit I won’t say who, Davie!), one of Alex’s rounds has gone astray. That was a 3moa increase in wind speed between the sighter for relay 4 and the 5 to count…. A matter of seconds. Welcome to shooting at Gelston. So, first blood to Vince, how will the rest fair?
With a slight change in how the event is run there is a quicker change around of details than has been the norm for us and the 2nd detail is ready to go. Once again we are joined by a Diggle regular in Jeanette Whitney, Tony Lenton wearing both his GSAC and Diggle hats along with GSAC regulars Lewis McIlreavy and Ross McLean. Once again initial sighting is done in quick time and we’re ready to go for the competition shots. Jeanette is on the money right away with a 5.669”. Tony, starting badly for him in the 11s. Lewis in the 9s and Ross in the 10s. Relay 2, Jeanette again keeping it low, mid 6 for her, Tony, fighting back and into the low 4s. Lewis slipping out and now in the 16s, with Ross in the 13s. Relay 3 and the wind hasn’t altered much. Jeanette keeping it in the mid 5s, Tony in the mid 8s, but wait! He’s just nicked closest the bull from Vince at 0.708”. Lewis a 12 and Ross just missing out on a high 13 by 95 thou. Hmm, this is getting interesting between 3 of the Diggle regulars. Are Jeanette and Tony going to take advantage of Vince catching the wind on his last relay? Is Jeanette going to see off Tony after his poor (by his standard) first group and have her revenge after last week’s competition at Diggle? And who has been firing at a pedestrian rate? More of that later…. Off we go. Jeanette? Mid 7s. Tony? A bit further out, but only by 0.434 of an inch. Lewis in the 14s and Ross with a 9.842”. So, Jeanette takes the lead away from Vince after 2 details and claims her revenge over Tony. Can the final 3 light guns get in amongst them?
Detail 3 is made up of GSAC regulars Glyn Cartwright, Darrel McIlreavy and James Arneil. Sighting in took slightly longer this time with 1 competitor forgetting which scope he had on the rifle and “not giving the turret enough” as they say, however he got there and we were soon ready to start. Glyn opens his account with an 11, Darrel a respectable 7 and James just missing out on an 8 with 9.094”. 2nd relay and Glyn is consistent and is just into the 12s by 7 thou. Darrel improves and moves into the 5s with James getting a 7. This is getting interesting as I tally the scores in the 4x4. Can the Gelston Massive get in amongst the Dollopers? 3rd relay and off we go. Hold on though, have the firers noticed the wind flags? Apparently not as Glyn sticks in a mid 16. Darrel out in the 12s along with James. It’s going to take some doing but both Darrel and James can still get in amongst Vince, Tony and Jeanette for a place on the podium. More importantly, can Darrel yet again nick Tony’s nearest the bull like he has done for most of this season when the pair of them have been in attendance. From my vantage point the wind doesn’t appear to have abated much but will it show on the targets? Glyn is back down in the 12s but how do Darrel and James fair? Well, Darrel improves on his last relay, but only by half an inch and James’ group slips out by an inch to the 13s. Did Darrel’s group come in anywhere close to the bull? I’m afraid not this time, much to Tony’s delight with good natured ribbing no doubt in full flow at the firing point.
So that’s us half way through the details and it’s not even mid-day yet. Time for a change of butts crew. Thanks to the morning crew for their assistance. It’s been noted that despite having to drive to the targets, clamber out of the 4x4 on a slope, measure and plug the targets, patch them out and then drive back to safe cover the scoring appears to be done as fast as it is at Diggle, and that’s on a proper gallery range using Hythe frames with the markers and scorers below the targets. No pressure on the afternoon crew then……
Detail 4 is a heavy gun detail but is short on bodies with only 2 competitors, having lost 4 shooters not attending as mentioned previously, however Les Prior is present with his big shiny thing and is hoping to blind Mally Johnstone (shooting in his first ever competition at 1000yards) with the sun reflecting off the metal stock… if only the sun had been out! Let’s get on with it then. Relay 1 and Les is well into the 8s with Mally getting a very low 14. Relay 2 and Les records a mid 11 with Mally out to 21 this time. 3rd relay and Les is heading the right way again and gets small group in heavy gun with 6.771”. Mally on a 13 this time. Final relay in heavy gun and Les is out in the 10s, but still respectable with a little 6 as the early morning details calm(ish) day has disappeared with the wind becoming more “interesting” as the day progresses.
Onto Factory Sporter for the final two details and everyone is a Gelston regular. We have Peter Cousar, Davie Sharp, Ed Walker (both using Savage .308 FTR rifles) and Martin Bell up first. The weather is beginning to look ominous, could it be the projected showers for the afternoon are going to arrive to affect things, well, it’s certainly getting darker and the wind seems to be a bit calmer. But is it? Relay1 and Peter has a bad one and is out into the 40s which is weird as he was scaring the tennis balls consistently when practising at the range maintenance day the previous week. Davie in the 16s but Ed is down into the single digits with a 9.96. Martin just missing out on a 12 and slipping to a 13 by 70 thou. Relay 2 and Peter is still a way out with a 36. Ed improving but still in the 9s and Martin now in the 11s. 3rd relay and Peter improves again, this time into the 29s. Davie is back out into the 16s with Martin bang on 20. Ed? Well Ed has just shot his best group ever at 1000yds with a mid 6. Well done Ed. Final relay for this detail and yet again Peter improves with a 21. Davie showing good consistency with his 3rd 16 of the competition. Ed after scoring his best ever group now slips out to a mid 10 and Martin finishes off with a mid 24.
The final detail and it’s only 2pm!!! Geoff McLuskey using his Savage 6BR for the first time in competition, myself with my trusty old .308 Remy, Rob Wilson with yet another Savage .308 FTR and Paul Ghorst using a borrowed .284 with a 20” barrel. A quick bit of sighting in and I know I’m in trouble… same batch of powder, same load (measured on a beam scale and checked on a lab scale), same batch of primers and bullets yet I watch my 1st shot spit the dirt up some 10 feet below my aiming point. Screw the scope up and I’m back on the tennis ball in 2 shots but why the sudden drop? Is it a knocked scope? Am I short on velocity after some 5 years of using the rifle with this load? Let’s just say my confidence in the rifle and load has taken a knock and I’m beginning to think that with Ed’s result in the previous detail my run of taking both open & club titles are in jeopardy. 1st relay and Geoff starts with an 11, I’m in the 14s, Rob with a 16 and Paul shooting his first competition ever gets a 14.921 to start his scorecard. Relay 2 and Geoff, clearly enjoying the 6BR gets a 9.37. I improve, just ducking below a 9. Rob is still in the 16s and Paul maintains the 14s. Relay 3 and I’m noticing silly things happening with the flags. They’re all pointing in different directions. Hmm! Anyway, off we go. Geoff gets exactly the same score as relay 2. Excellent shooting Geoff. I’ve gone out into the high 13s and my grasp on the titles is about gone. Rob scores a mid 9, but Paul is out into the 24s. Final relay of the day and taking advice from the sage RCO, otherwise known as Tony Lenton I decide to shoot slowly rather than run the rifle to beat the wind since it’s not too bad. Geoff gets a 13, Rob a very tidy 6. Unluckily there are also 2 penalties and Paul is out in the 28s. Me? Remember that bit of advice from Tony? Geoff’s group slid out, Rob got penalties and Paul’s group was the worst of his 4…… yup, that wind that wasn’t too bad. Well, it only went and picked up during the relay and I’m bitten badly with a 22.165”. Oh-hum, such are the joys of competitive shooting. So Ed takes the laurels in Factory Sporter in both Open and Club along with the small group patch with his personal best of 6.653”.
Remember that challenge to the afternoon butts crew? Well they lived up to it well and scored with equal efficiency to the morning crew. Thanks guys.
The table of silver and glass is set up while the targets and butts is stripped down and by the time the crew return we are ready to proceed with the prize giving and Vince graciously allows Alex Carson to take the Smallest Group cup to mark his personal best result. 1st in Open and Club are awarded an engraved plate and Tony Lenton collects a new award for nearest the bull and everyone receives an engraved glass to commemorate the day. The organisers and GSAC would like to thank Ross Mclean of Mclean Historical Engravers who supplied all the plates and glasses and did all the engraving for free.
We hope everyone enjoyed themselves at the competition and you’re all welcome to return anytime.
Results – Light Gun
1st J Whitney 6.328” agg T Lenton 8.120”
2nd T Lenton 8.120” D McIlreavy 9.301”
3rd V Bottomley 8.563” J Arneil 10.590”
Smallest Group – A Carson & V Bottomley 4.212”
1st L Prior 9.330” M Johnstone 17.313”
2nd M Johnstone 17.313”
Smallest Group – L Prior 6.771”
Factory Sporter (with only club members participating Open & Club results are the same)
1st E Walker 9.104”
2nd G McLuskey 10.827”
3rd D Leslie 12.598”
Smallest Group – E Walker 6.653”
Nearest the Bull
T Lenton 0.708”