GB Junior International, homecoming

Well, my dreams of uninterrupted broadband access for the entire trip didn’t quite work out – for the last two days I wasn’t able to upload photos or access email. Oh well. Next year I’ll figure something else out.

For now though, we’re back, I’m 14 hours of sleep down and still feeling exhausted and I think I caught a headcold somehow (how? It was 30 degrees in the shade over there for heaven’s sake!) and I’ve a stack of work as tall as myself to get through.

But I’ll tell you this – it was worth it 🙂

Right, so starting with the bits I haven’t gotten through…

The men’s match was on the Tuesday morning:

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Bloody crowded too!

Shane was up for this along with Damien:

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Both did quite well, but the field was better than last year. Shane made it to the finals (his first international finals ever) with 567, but Damien was pipped by one place with 563 and just missed out.

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Shane did climb up from 8th to 6th in the finals while being cheered on by the Irish supporters:

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But in the last two shots, he was overtaken again and finished up back at 8th – but the important point was, he was there in the finals! And he set a PB doing it, so he received a certificate at the medals ceremony later that night.

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And if you think shooting a finals is fairly easy and stress free…. well, don’t look behind you when you’re doing it!
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And what are they all looking at? Your target, projected up on the wall so if you stuff it up, you have nowhere to hide! Mind you, you could just do what Shane did to cope with that…

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The ladies match was the next day and our shooters shot very well – Paula Cunningham shot a personal best for this match

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but she missed the finals by one place, leaving Elizabeth and Susan in the finals, with Susan in third place with a score so closely split with one of the GB shooters that they had to get to within one step of flipping a coin to split them according to the rules. Elizabeth didn’t have her best finals ever, but definitely finished in style with a 10.1 (and lots of loud cheering from the Irish continent), but Susan stole the show by moving up from fourth place to second to take the silver medal and actually reducing Matt and Geoff to tears (which isn’t something that happens all that often!).

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Isn’t that a lovely sight?

And it got better but also worse – the next day saw the Grand Prix events, where Damien took Silver in the men’s match, but Shane suffered horribly on the line when nothing went right for him. That’s a rotten sensation, and there aren’t any target shooters who don’t know it intimately, but the good news is that it doesn’t last and there are always other matches.

The girls had a somewhat similar experience – all three moved up in the rankings but Paula and Elizabeth weren’t happy with their performances (though each put in 370 with Paula winning on countback, and both would have made the finals). Susan stole the show again by storming through to the gold medal position.

And that’s where I got my little treat, because I got nabbed by the NSRA to be the chap who hands out the medals during that night’s ceremony, so not only did I get to see one of our shooters win gold, I got to put it round her neck as well 🙂 Now that’s a memory that’s going to last, and as soon as I get the photo of it sorted out, it’s going up here. For now, you’ll have to make do with this one:

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There were a lot of memorable images from the week, mostly happy ones from after the medals ceremonies:

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Jim and his sister Liz after she won her ladies’ team silver medal

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Susan winning her silver medal in the individuals,

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Geoffrey’s Angels 😀

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And seeing these two bawling their eyes out after Susan took silver and the team took silver and then Damien took another silver and Susan took a gold!
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And then there’s this shot of the Irish and Northern Irish teams posing together after winning their medals (the Northern Irish juniors won the team gold medal in the 50m prone match). It’s images like that that are the whole point of matches like these – all the juniors get to mingle, to have fun together and make friendships that ignore all the political bullshit and pretty soon, things just get better.

So that’s it for the GB Junior International for this year. Lots accomplished, lots learned, lots of ideas on how to do it better next year (yeah, I wouldn’t mind doing this again 🙂 ), and lots of fun had. The juniors all get together in Cardiff again in November, I’m back to Bisley (with my rifle this time) in February for the British Open, and we’ll probably all do this again next August for the 16th GB Junior International.

Of course, first we have to try to have the first Irish Junior International…

GB Jr Intl 07 – Day One

The first day of the event proper kicked off early this morning, with the team having breakfast together in the Surrey Rifle Club at 0730. Not quite bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but we perked up a bit after breakfast. At that point, the shooters and Marina headed back to their rooms to prepare their kitbags and transport them to the Lord Roberts Centre, and myself and Geoff headed for the LRC to check up on squadding times and the like as they’d not been finalised the night before. In the end, they wouldn’t be finalised until later that day, but it did give us the chance to find where equipment control was located and when the kit arrived, to get first place in line for equipment control. We’d also been fortunate enough to get picked to help with the air rifle range testing early that morning, so we wanted to make sure our shooters got through the control checks quickly. Turns out that, as is the case with all matches, an extra pair of hands was rather useful and so once we’d helped the other judges get equipment control ready, our shooters got through in jig time and headed off to their training.

Unfortunately for me, demonstrating ability is the fastest way to get assigned work.

Yeah, doesn’t look too streneous. Till you see the queue…

About 113 shooters later, I finally managed to catch up to Marina and Geoff and Matt to find that the shooting our team had been doing had gone very well and that official training was all well in hand. I left them to get on with what they do best and went off to sort out a few more paperwork glitches. I’ve come to believe this is the only way you can even hope to stay afloat at this game – let coaches coach and let the team manager handle all the little crap that pops up to bite you like meal tickets and booking gym time and keeping in touch with the organisers in case stuff changes and ensuring that everyone on the team gets told what of anything they need to know about. It’s a job made up of many small tasks and one goal – to ensure that the shooters have a smooth run of it.

And they didn’t have too rough a patch today. Official training went very well and they’re all ready for an early start tomorrow (the junior men start at 0830 so that’s them on the range by 0730 and in breakfast at 0700). However, the day’s shooting is over for us by noon, so everyone will have a chance to take a break easily enough. And we’ve had the first of our team evening briefings on the contents of today’s technical meeting and our iteniaries as they stand right now.

And now it’s nearly one in the morning and I’ve to be up for 0630. Gah! Some random shots before I hit the hay:

Matt and Elizabeth during training in the morning.

Paula’s official training.

Matt and Geoff watching official training for our team.

3P Air Rifle tables set up in the LRC

Technical meeting.

GB Jr Intl 07 – Day Zero!

Well, we made it here in one piece – eventually! – and everyone’s settled into their accommodations. A bit of changing around of rooms and so on when we got here, but you expect hiccups like that; and Matt and Geoff got far too little sleep on the way over with all the gear in the van, but they’re crashed out now catching up on that. The team’s in high spirits, we’re expecting a mass of shooters tomorrow (160 other shooters to compete against!) and the lemon meringue pie is excellent!

Some random shots from the day:

Checking in in Dublin
Check-in at Dublin airport.

Jim's patriotic shoes...
Some of the entourage went for the patriotic green look…

Eddie and Shane waiting on the others
Eddie and Shane in Gatwick

Where the heck are they?
Where the heck are they? Marina waiting on the girls in Gatwick.

Waiting on the train...
Damien waiting on the train in Gatwick train station.

More of Gatwick train station
More of Gatwick train station…

Team Ireland!
Geoff and Marina (Geoff’s on the left! ) at the Army Target Shooting Club in Bisley, home to Team Ireland for the next week or so.

Susan at the ATSC.

Team Ireland
Team Ireland. Left to Right: Susan, Damien, Paula, Elizabeth, Shane.

Overshadowing everything here is the threat from the foot&mouth outbreak. The panic zone seems to be right up on top of us here in the camp, with all outdoor shooting shut down at present. The NRA (who run the camp) are saying that it’s a temporary measure and it’ll all be back to normal by Tuesday, in time to start preperations for Bisley Week on wednesday – we’ve all got our fingers crossed on that one.

The panic zone

And so to bed, much later than the shooter’s 2230 curfew… and up tomorrow at 0640 to kick the morning off with the first team breakfast!

GB Jr Intl '07

Kickoff is getting closer. Final itinerary being prepared, but we’re hampered by the lack of squadding times from the NSRA, who are swamped, since they’ve gone from 130 to 160 shooters this year. Sent to the team today:

 Okay folks, here’s what we have so far. Excuse the minddump format.

Flights are booked, Accomodation is booked, Car hire is sorted, Gear transport is sorted, in fact all the big stuff is now in the “done” category.

Here’s our schedule so far:

Friday August 3 : Gear packing, WTSC, 2000h. Everyone bring your gear, your suitcases and so on and we pack the lot in Matt’s van. We’ll have the tracksuits and shirts for everyone at that point as well. We’ll sort out the team photo once we hit Bisley.

Sunday, August 5 : Meet in Dublin Airport, 1000h. Our flight (Ryanair, flight 114) leaves at 1140h; meeting at 1000h gives us a chance to do head counts, have a cup of coffee, and not worry about getting through security in time. All you need to bring on the plane is your passport, your money, a book to read on the plane if you want, and that’s it. No baggage please folks, that all goes in Matt’s van (Geoff and Matt will have left at this point and will meet us in Bisley). The plan is to fly out, hire two cars in Gatwick (the team goes in the 8-seater and everyone else goes in the smaller car) and drive to Bisley. We’re staying in the ATSC (Marina and Laura are in the L&M and Eddie, Matt and Jim are in the HAC), and we’re eating on camp. The plan is to get in, get settled and get some rest.

Monday, August 6 : There’s official training in the afternoon and equipment control just beforehand.

Tuesday, August 7: The first match – Junior Men Air Rifle and Final

Wednesday, August 8: The second match – Junior Women Air Rifle and Final

Thursday, August 9: The Grand Prix event for both Junior Men and Junior Women. That night, the Banquet.

Friday, August 10: Heading home. We’ll leave Bisley by noon, have lunch on the way back to Gatwick, and our flight out is at 1730h (we’re aiming to get to Gatwick for about 1530h) and we’re back in Dublin by 1845h.

A word here on food: we’ll all be eating breakfast together in the Surrey every morning. Breakfast will be early – serving runs from 0730 to 0800 on Monday and 0715 to 0800 every other day. Breakfast is a team event where we’ll go over the day’s itinerary and so forth. So 0730 every morning in the Surrey. Don’t be late (and that means getting to bed early the night before). Dinner is also a team event; 1915h every evening in the Surrey. After dinner, you’re free to head off into town to decompress or hang out with the other teams or whatever you want, but – no alcohol until the thursday night (and then in moderation and only for those over 18!) and remember you have to be in the Surrey by 0730 the next morning. The idea here is that we are a team – so we travel as a team, we eat as a team, we sleep as a team, we do everything as a team. If you’re not shooting, that does not mean you don’t have to be on the range – it means you’re on the range, in uniform, helping your teammates.

About the uniform – Geoff’s gotten tracksuits and poloshirts for everyone, we’ll hand them out on Friday. I’m still trying to find out about laundry services on the camp itself, but there is one in Brookwood just outside the camp, so we might make a run to that once or twice during the week. Basicly, you’re in uniform from when you wake up, through breakfast, while you’re in the LRC, and at dinner and the banquet – outside of that, whatever you want but do try to look smart, you’re representing your nation while you’re there. Also, I’m bringing the camera, the laptop and wireless broadband so photos can go up on the web during the week.

They have armoury arrangements – so far as I can tell, our firearms are all to be stored in the L&M. Other kit stays in your room from what I can see.

There is the usual NTSA code of conduct, with the following additions:
1) The team is a team. We eat together, we train together, we travel together, we shoot together, insofar as is possible.
2) All contact with NSRA officials is to go through the team officials (myself, Geoff and Marina). We need to know what’s going on to do our jobs.
3) We’re working up an itinerary for the trip to try to keep some sort of controlled chaos going instead of total chaos. So follow it. That means we have breakfast together in the Surrey every morning at 0730 and dinner there at 1915. Families and friends and hanging out can all happen afterwards, that’s not a problem, but see rule 1) – we’re a team, we eat together.
4) No-one in the team rooms other than team members. In other words, no pulling folks, you’re here to compete. 😛
5) No alcohol until the Banquet and then only in moderation and for those over 18.
6) Stay presentable throughout the week – so stay in uniform when on the LRC and with the team for breakfast or dinner or whatever. Definitely stay in uniform for the presentations every day. We’ll arrange laundry runs for the evenings every two or three days so that things stay hygenic.

It’s not an official curfew unless it has to be, but bedtime by 2300h every evening bar Thursday is the only way you’ll be able to get through the week without dying from exhaustion 😀 Us old fogies will probably be snoring by 2200h…

We’re stuck with regards to squadding times at the moment. This year’s even bigger than last year (they had 129 people last year, they have 165 this year), and they don’t have squadding times yet. We’ll wind up sorting this out when we register you on Sunday evening (you’ll all get ID cards, you’ll have to take care of those!).

Our flight information for those who want it:

From Dublin(DUB) to Gatwick South Term Uk(LGW)
Sun, 05Aug07 Flight FR114 Depart DUB at 11:40 and arrive LGW at 12:55

From Gatwick South Term Uk(LGW) to Dublin(DUB)
Fri, 10Aug07 Flight FR117 Depart LGW at 17:30 and arrive DUB at 18:45
Lastly, a note from the rules issued to the GB Juniors, which applies to all of us equally well!

Mixing with other teams is expected, however their rules may well be different to ours, NEVER loose sight of OUR rules !!”