Elcho day has finally arrived. The day where the best shooters from England, Scotlanad, Ireland and Wales face off against each other. Each team has 8 firers each shooting 15 shots at each of the three ranges. Uniquely for team matches, just like the Albert yesterday, there are no sighters. In what is usually a tight affair, this punishes any mistake or problem.
Due to COVID, there was no Elcho match last year so all of the nations were keen take on the current holders, England. With the 8 english shooters occupying the top 12 spots in the Hopton, it was always going to be tough for one of the other nations to reclaim the Elcho Shield. But this is Elcho day and anything can happen.
1000 and 1100 yards
The quickly changing winds that were present in the Albert yesterday continued. Each team is given 2 hours at each range to complete their shoots. This means that coaches can chose their moments to shoot, waiting until they were confident with the wind. As a shooter, this takes some getting used to. One shooter could take 40 mins to fire 15 shots and the next only 5. After 1000yards, England were leading with a very impressive 596.88v (ex 600.120v). They were follwed by Scotland (587.79v), Ireland (584.62v) and Wales (575.53v).
1100 yards again saw the wind continuing to vary, but there were strong shoots across the board. This included possibles from Wales’ Robert Oxford, Scotland’s Ron Scaglione and Mike Barlow and England’s Ashley Abrahams and John Lindsay III. England extended their lead over Scotland by 2 points, scoring 590.77v at 1100 yards. In second place at 1100 yards and overall was Scotland (588.62v). They were follwed by Ireland (583.49v) and Wales (562.49v). This gave England an 11 point lead going into lunch which means it was all to play for at 1200 yards.
After lunch, the teams returned to see Stickledown with a much stronger and varying wind. This was a stern test of the wind coaches. The second shooters down for each team didn’t manage to break 70 across the board with winds confusing even the best coaches. The two hour time limit meant that the teams could only wait for so long to see if the wind was going to ease. Some steadier patches however allowed the coaches to partially recover, and in the end at 1200 yards Wales recorded 527.24v, Ireland 550.38v, Scotland 555.45v and England 561.43v.
Having edged ahead of the other teams at every range, England retain the Elcho with 1747.208v, from Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Scot Ron Scaglione has the top individual score with 222.34v.
After the match was the traditional Prizegiving and Pimms and strawberrys. This gave a chance to relax after a tense day’s shooting, reflect on a great Hopton and celebrate those successes with fellow competitors and friends.
This is not quite the end of Match Rifle at the Imperial meeting as tomorrow the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge compete in the Match Rifle Varsity match for The Humphry Challenge Cup. After Oxford’s well deserved victory last year, Cambridge are keen to recalim the Humphry. Good luck to both Universities.