Members of the Scottish Full-Bore Rifle HPS competed in Phoenix at the South West Nationals (SWN) for the 6th consecutive year in early February. Since starting attending in 2013, the competitor numbers have grown substantially to the maximum capacity of the range of 360 competitors, and the standards have risen similarly, with many of the US Palma team competing and a host of “F” Class shooters also. It is now regarded as one of the best annual US meetings, if not the top one. From the Scottish High Performance Squad, Ian Shaw, Sandy Walker, Angus McLeod and Mike Barlow all competed.
In the warm up shoots on the Wednesday at 600 yards, comprising 3 individual competitions of 20 shots, Sandy Walker showed his form by finishing 2nd in 2 of the 3 competitions and 2nd on the aggregate for the day. Thursday was the teams of four match, with a Palma course of fire, 15 to count at 800/900 and 1000 yards. This gave Ian and Sandy a chance to try out both their wind coaching and shooting skills, as they each coached each other and one other member of the team. After some very good scoring, the Scottish HPS team won the match, beating 18 other teams, including 2 other teams crammed with US Palma team shooters.
On Friday it was the Palma individual match, where Ian, Sandy and Angus all scored 446 ex 450, all finishing in the top 20, behind 2 scores of 449, 2 of 448 and 6 of 447, such were the slender margins. Saturday is always a long and tough day, with 2 individual shoots of 20 rounds in the morning followed by a team match in the afternoon, for the same teams as the Thursday. So it proved, with lively winds during both the individual and team shoots. The winner of the team match had 4 of the US Palma team with a local coach who was familiar with the range. Their strategy obviously worked, because firing at the wrong time easily led to a 7 or an 8, which most teams found regularly to their cost. Unfortunately, the Scottish HPS team suffered badly in the wind finishing 6th and this dropped them to 2nd in the overall Team Aggregate.
Sunday was to be the final day of the Grand Aggregate. However, due to very high winds bearing on the back of the targets, the organisers were forced to cancel the matches, because of the likelihood of breaking the targets and injuring the targets markers. This meant that the Grand Aggregate was decided over the two days of individual shooting, with Angus finishing 3rd, Ian 9th, Sandy 14th and Mike 21st.