Scots Shine in Difficult Conditions at the 2019 World Long Range Championships in New Zealand

Some of the Scottish athletes (L-R Sandy Walker, Lindsey McKerrell and Rory Macleod) next to the World Long Range Championship final score board before the shoot off for the top 10 positions.

In late January and early February 2019, New Zealand was host to the World Long Range Championships and associated International team matches held every 4 years, as well as to their own National Championships. Scotland was well represented with 7 Scots travelling with the various GB teams. Lindsey McKerrell and Rory Macleod were in the U-25 team, Sandy Walker and Matthew Charlton were with the GB Palma Team, and Lindsay Peden, James Mehta and Jon Sweet were in the GB Veterans Team, thereby ensuring that all age groups were well covered.

The Seddon Range in Trentham at Upper Hutt, near Wellington, was the venue for all the individual and team matches spanning two weeks of competition. Trentham is known to be one of the most difficult ranges in the world in which to shoot full-bore rifle, and it proved to fully deserve its reputation, with mainly strong and very fast-changing winds being in evidence almost every day. As a result distant onlookers must have been very puzzled by the lack of high scores from such a strong field. Most competitors had at least one score that they would rather forget. The skill was not solely in reading the wind but managing it. Unlike the shooting format with which the GB competitors are most familiar, i.e. shooting in threes or twos and firing within 45 seconds of the target appearing for their shot, all the individual shoots were conducted shooting singly with a set time limit for the entire shoot. Such a format allows the competitor to choose when they fire, with usual tactic being to fire rapidly when the wind is more steady and waiting (not firing) during periods of extreme turbulence. That however was the theory, but with some of the most rapidly changing winds generally encountered anywhere it proved very difficult, if not impossible, to enact. The results spoke for themselves – few escaped getting scores in the 50’s out of 75 and the best word to describe it was carnage. Notwithstanding, the cream rose to the top with a lot of the usual suspects on the leader board, but similarly several big names struggled. Thankfully, there was no rain to compound the misery.

All the Scottish competitors were shooting well, but most had one or two disasters at the long ranges (800, 900 and 1000 yards) which hurt their placings significantly. In the World Long Range Championship, Sandy Walker finished 14th, only 2 points away from the top ten shoot off. Lindsey McKerrell finished 5th ex 37 and Rory Macleod 13th in the World Individual U-25 Championship.  Lindsay Peden and James Mehta both self-handicapped in the New Zealand Championships by cross-firing at 300 yards on the first day, which in Lindsay’s case knocked him out of the eventual shoot off for the top 20 ex 357 over the 8 ranges shot over three days and dropped him from 3rd to 6th ex 113 competitors in the Veterans World Individual Championship.

All 7 shot, coached or acted as team officers for GB in their respective team matches. Sandy shot for the GB team of 10 in the New Zealand International Teams Match and GB Palma team of 16 firers, in both cases shooting scores in the top half of the team, and Matt Charlton coached in both matches. The Palma Match is the blue riband event of team shooting, so it was a great accolade to be selected for the team as either coach or firer. In the U-25 matches (team of 5 firers and a coach), Rory Macleod shot in both U-25 matches, being top score in the first match which was shot on the 2nd day of the overall meeting before overall form of the squad of 12 could be established. Lindsey McKerrell having shot very well in the World Individual U-25 Championships, finishing as 5th ex 37 of the U-25’s competing, was selected for the 2nd match and had top score. James Mehta and Lindsay Peden shot for GB in both the Veterans matches, while Jon Sweet was adjutant for both. However, in all 6 of the team matches across all the ages, GB finished 2nd place to Australia, with 5 teams competing in the Veterans and U-25 matches (Australia, GB, USA, New Zealand and Canada) and 6 in the New Zealand International and Palma (Australia, GB, USA, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada and the Channel  Islands).     

Detailed scores for Scottish competitors and a link to the NZ website for a full list of results for each match can be found below.

Report by Lindsay Peden