Teams from American, England, Wales, Ireland and South Africa compete for international rifle title
Bloemfontein, South Africa - Protea is the top team trophy at the South African International High Power Championships. Named after the South Africa's National Flower, The International Protea is shot over three ranges measuring out at 300, 600 and 900 meters. Keeping with the earlier team matches, it was South Africa that powered past England and the United States to claim the hometown title.
Teams from South Africa, England, the United States, Wales and Ireland readied in the early Sfrican sun for their 8:00am start.
"These are the smallest targets," American shooter Anette Wachter explained on her website (www.30calgal.com). "The winds were up and tricky at all metre lines."
With twelve shooters per team gunning for a perfect match score of 1800, it started at 300 meters. England held tighter than the rest finishing with 597. Right on their heels was South Africa at 595 and the United States at 593. That's when South Africa made their move.
England dropped ten points at the 600 meter mark. Both South Africa and the United States dropped five each. That left South Africa in command with a two point lead over the United States. The hometown advantage would be even more apparent in the final round.
On the back of perfect scores from Bona and Brand, South Africa finished on top with final score of 1769.193. England was practically perfect at 900 meteres to finish second while the United States ended up in third.
"What a heart break," Wachter wrote. "But we fought hard. Coaches Emil, Steve and Norm did a great job. The saying is that as a shooter on a team your only job is to pull the trigger. But 'just pulling the trigger' is scary."
Though South Africa walked away with most of the team titles, it was an Englishman who won the overall individual championships. Mr. Parag Patel, a consultant surgeon at St. George's Hospital in London, finished his South African tour at the tournaments top shooter.
Patel was a member of the Great Britain Rifle Team that finished second to the U.S. in last year's America Match. Shot during the Long Range High Power Rifle Championships at Camp Perry, Patel completed his Camp Perry experience finishing 25th overall. As a reward for winning the South African title, he was driven off the range in a vintage 1934 Ford.
The tournament now complete, teams are all returning home. For some it's an incredibly short drive and for others it's an unbelievably long plane ride. All in an effort to keep in game shape for the next Palma Rifle World Championships in Camp Perry, Ohio.
Photos come courtesy of the 2013 England Rifle Team. All reports on the competition were based on updates from emails, Twitter, Facebook as well as postings provided by the England Rifle Team website and Wachter's www.30calgal.com.