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There is still frost on the ground when we arrive at Bisley. We are here to shoot in Australia. We cannot be in Australia for the weekend, we have neither the time nor the money to fly around the world to fire 24 rounds at large back circles deep in the Australian bush. But what we can do, is turn up as the range opens, buy 40 rounds of PPU ammunition and lie down in the subzero temperatures to try replicate the conditions of New South Wales and shoot. The idea is old fashioned, it used to be called “postal shoots”. We still post our results, no longer by post, but by email and with photos. The Australians take our scores and write them on the board at the weekend with all the other shooters.
A cold and crisp morning on Century range.
There has to be a degree of co-operation and of course trust. We have to write down our scores accurately and honestly and the Australians have to agree to use the same rifles. This had originally been a 7.62 shoot, but our rifles are all much more advanced and somewhat tactical compared to the Omark’s used by the Hill End Rifle Club. So we agree on the venerable .303 British as the calibre of choice. Our contact in Australia is Graham Murgatroyd. He relays the rules by phone:
Two sighters at 300 yards, then 10 rounds with no more than 45 seconds to fire after the exposure of the target. Then exactly the same routine at 500 yards. The matter is complicated further by the fact that my SMLE is shooting a foot to the left at 300 yards. Richard – my oppo for the day turns up with a punch and hammer. Which is designed for the no4 sight and is totally useless. Being a good man with his hands, after a few futile taps and useless shots, Richard turns the punch on it’s side and smacks the foresight a hefty distance. It looks ok, so I try again. The windage (there is no wind) is spot on. Two sighters and we are good to go.
Richard waiting to begin.
The Anzac competition is very easy. It consists of 10-15 rounds fired at each distance. Each round is either magazine fed or individually loaded. The sights have to be iron, and the rifle has to be a Lee Enfield. We are not sure of the format as the instructions were a bit vague, so we opt for the most difficult, the individual load.
Richard offers me two fists, I choose the one without the cartridge and he goes first. He chooses to adjust his sights after his sighters and keep clicking them up or down depending upon where his shots land. In general – he is spot on, with – a five a few fours and a V bull. Occasionally he gets a one. His total is a respectable 29/50.
My shooting is nowhere near as good. I get a smattering of twos and threes and a five. I am on the black most of the time, but not brilliantly. I have trouble shooting prone, I’m not very good at it, and the recoil is killing me. This has nothing (of course) to do with the fact that I fired 350 rounds on Saturday at the Orion shooting range in Wales. I have been told that I push with my shoulder too much and this means that I try not to. This leads to horrid recoil and two of my shots go off target, out of 8 shots on target I get a rather bad 24/50.
After the 300 yard match I kneel and fire a 5 round group with the SMLE. The group is tight, and it occurs to me, that I would have been better off doing the competition kneeling,
Even standing produced some well placed shots.
The air is very still- but the temperature is still below freezing. It is now 1100hrs and the frost is as white as it was at dawn. We move to the 500 yard firing point, and continue. Our marker Paul, is quite brilliant and Jovial. He has a thermos of coffee and a Stephen fry book and withstands our long transit time easily. At 500 yards, I do slightly better and score 25.1/50 with a V-bull. The smle performs well at this distance and is easy to use. Mine has an unissued barrel and shoots well. Perhaps I am just more relaxed. I let the rifle find my shoulder and squeeze off the shots.
Richard has not shot out this far in a while, and drops a zero into his scores, but recovers well with a nerve wracking 24.
We note the scores down on paper, take a photo and email the photo off to Australia immediately.
After the match we swopped rifles and had a friendly 5 round match at 500 yards. Interestingly the scores were 16/25 and 15/25.
Want to take part?
Trans continental shooting is easily possible. The dates are loosely based upon the shoot dates of the Hill End Rifle club, (6 a year) but more can and will be inserted. Entries are open to anyone around the globe who has access to a Lee Enfield .303 (or the rifle/calibre of that shoot) and who has access to a range which is 300-1000 yards long. All you need to do is shoot as per the rules of the competition, shoot on a target similar to those of the competition, and take a few photos, not least of your scorecard. The competition is run on trust and individual entries are welcome. There is (at this time) no prize and no entry fee.
We would all like to encourage more ladies and more young people to take part. For those who find the .303 daunting, there will be 5.56mm (.223) shoots during the year which will be organised.
A website is being created as we speak:wwww.transcontinentalshooting.org
Distance 300/500 yards
Rifle .303 no4 and .303 SMLE-
Players: Richard Morgan and Farhat Jah.
Match: 10 rounds 174 grain PPU per distance- loaded individually (ie no mag) with 2 sighters,
MORGAN R. (No4) 300 yards 29.1
MORGAN R. 500 yards 24.1
MORGAN R. TOTAL 54.2
JAH F. (SMLE) 300 yards 21.1
JAH F. 500 yards 25
JAH F. TOTAL : 46.1
Friendly 5 round match:
MORGAN R 17
JAH F 16
Article and pictures by Raf.