Team USA travels to South Africa for Long Range High Power Rifle tournament
Bloemfontein, South Africa - The South African Rifle Team jumped out to an early lead in yesterday's America Match at the General de Wet Range. Gaining ground in each of the four relays, their final tally reached 2362.251 before teams from the U.S. and England fired their final shot. By then, South Africa was in the clubhouse with a 13 point win.
The America Match is a four round team competition shot at 300, 600, 800 and 900 meters. Made up of eight man teams, each has the opportunity to score up to 600 points per round. Shot last year during the NRA Long Range High Power Rifle Championships in Camp Perry, this is the first America Match win for South Africa.
Having Long Range High Power Rifle Fun in the African Sun
Though one may try, it is truly impossible to simulate game day situations in practice. All the preparation in the world will never prepare you for the tension or adrenaline spike that accompanies real life. The distractions are even greater when competing in South Africa.
Not only is there the incredibly long plane ride, a new culture to embrace and new cuisines to devour, there's also the local wildlife to consider. Don't believe me? Then listen to what Alex Williams had to say on the England Rifle Team website.
Aside from keeping a beady eye on the targets, there were several opportunities to cop a look at the local wildlife - dawn is heralded by the cooing of pigeons and the squeaking of hundreds of small starlings. Zebras and elegant giraffes festoon the grasslands on the drive from the hotel to the range. Springbok prance through the fawn coloured savannah startled by the passing minibuses.
Dinner also provides an opportunity to sample some of the local wildlife, which generally appears medium-rare.
Redemption via the Rifle awaits
Though the American Match holds a special significance to those of us here in The States, american shooters have to toss those results aside. Same goes for the the English, the Welsh and the Irish. After all, they are only three days into ten day of competition. There are plenty of victories left to be had.
Having the home field advantage has played well into the South African's hands so far. The heat, the elevation (4,500 feet above sea level) and familiarity with the surroundings makes aiming that rifle all the more favorable for the locals. But it doesn't have to stay that way. Things can change.
Yesterday's match saw Team USA finish second. Not a bad start.
Under the leadership of Head Coach Norm Anderson, along with coaches Emil Praslic and Steve Harding, Team USA's shooters (including Lane Buxton, Brandon Green, Michael Storer, Ty Cooper, Bob Gill, Nate Guernsey, Anette Wachter and Dave Crandell) are sure to find their mark soon enough.
Thanks to Anette Wachter and James Watson for contributing to this post ... both with pictures (Anette's) and information. Follow Anette's coverage of her long range high power shooting saga at www.30calgal.com.