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When the wind blows . . .

A diary from the NSRA Scottish Meeting in Caithness 2011

Caithness was bathed in sunshine for most of the week, a week when the rest of Scotland was bathed in floodwaters. That left the competitors free to concentrate on defeating the wind – an almighty conundrum that came in two sizes, either sneaky gust or full-on gale.
I spent the week there, learning to read the wind, anticipate the wind, wait for the wind. I quite enjoyed it when I got better at it, there must be something wrong with me.
Not everyone got as much of a kick out of it. There were people grasping their rifles as if for grim life as the wind threatened to blow them off course, altering their positions as if to dig in to the firing positions, using an abacus to work out how many clicks to turn their sights for windage. I was fortunate in that I was given a steer before my first 100 yard card and was therefore not totally surprised when the first shots really did go so far left of the target they were in danger of missing the card completely. Still, we got the hang of it eventually which is more than could be said for the NSRA's trial run of new range instructions. It was remarkable to see just how many people could not get used to the idea of standing at the rear of the firing point while their rifles were checked for safety before targets were changed, no matter how many times the inimitable George Wilson told them, then told them again, then made fun of them, then berated them.
Did the conditions make the competitions a lottery? One competitor thought so during the SSRA Freuchie, staged at lunchtime. “Will we just toss a coin to see who wins,” he remarked through the gale, no doubt still musing where all the rum had gone from the previous evening's socialising. I thought it was funny until the mat belonging to the guy next to me blew away and hit me in the kisser.
The real winners were Watten WRI who delivered an amazing array of brilliant food that meant that many a prepared packed lunch got left behind in a car instead. They should be invited to join X Class without delay.
The technology that allowed me to abandon a laptop in a sunny field in Lauder last year and still publish pictures and words onto the SSRA site while shooters wandered round it wondering what fool had left it there didn't quite pan out this year as patchy mobile phone signals left me wandering around near the toilet blocks instead with a laptop balanced on one hand and a selection of curses. It was the only place I could get a signal, honest.

 All joking apart, I enjoyed my trip to Caithness and I would implore people to return, not least for the yearly Caithness SBRC Open meeting that follows the Scottish as well as the SSRA Grand Prix. As a novice outdoor shooter, I learned a lot and improved a lot. I also learned not to: turn my sights the wrong way at 50m and start doing sighters that were effectively aimed at the moon; not to put a 100 yard card on a 50m target; not to lay my mat down the wrong way round, and not to leave Tunnock's teacakes in a hot car.
That's more than enough from me. Change targets...

Colin Watson, SSRA webmaster

Pictures tell a thousand words: From left, Seoc Malone demonstrates his skills as a masseur on Maria Bexley; Jim McIntosh sold a bundle of new SSRA hats when the temperatures dropped and he wasn't afraid to model one himself and rumours that Colonel Gadaafi was hiding in a tent on the range were denied by his stunt double Ian Henderson.

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