Photos by - Steve Thornton

F CLASS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS - Connaught Ranges - Ottawa - Canada - 2017


“Trials and tribulations of a touring team”

The following account of the GB team’s exploits at the World Championships is very much from the GB team perspective, the coverage tends to focus on GB team members and their performance. To do justice to all the competitors in the World Championships would necessitate a much longer report which is also beyond the remit of the GBFCA.

Getting there

Simply getting out of the UK proved to be troublesome; the large main group who flew directly from Heathrow, experienced horrendous delays at the BA check-in desks, we feared that the group might not make it to the plane as they still had to negotiate customs clearance. Thankfully, our advance party who had departed the previous day had been advised by customs to supply a list of all our details in advance, to expedite clearance. It was good advice, by faxing the required personal details to the customs office, they processed the group with very little delay, enabling them to at least have a brief refreshment before boarding. There is a clear lesson there for future touring teams; send a list of your details to the customs office in advance to enable them to process your paperwork more efficiently. To add insult to injury the BA staff did not recognise that the party had waivers for extra bags; either the BA staff or the Travel Agent had messed up, but whomever was to blame, the group had to pay on the spot for their extra bags – it is hoped that the Association can investigate this and get a refund of this unexpected expense. The Scottish contingent suffered no such difficulties; being processed quickly and efficiently by Edinburgh’s BA staff and having no truck with customs.

On arrival at Montreal, there was the usual long queue for immigration clearance, that was to be expected, but having cleared that hurdle we encountered another long queue to get through customs with our rifles. The wheels of bureaucracy turn very slowly and we waited for about an hour for customs agents to manually copy our documentation long-hand, even though we had brought the required copies in triplicate. Having paid the required fee, we finally managed to get out of the terminal building; it was by now dark but still stiflingly hot, and we were pretty tired but glad to be getting on the road….or so we thought. At the car-hire office we were confounded by yet another queue, for a most unexpected and unwelcome reason – the car hire firm did not have cars for us! That was the reason they gave and they stuck to that story for a good half an hour, in the face of rising tempers and voices…when a supervisor intervened it transpired that the company had expected us to arrive at 10am (as stated on our rental agreement) as it was now 10pm, the cars had long since been removed and taken away to a compound….so in reality the cars did exist but were not immediately available – if the firm has simply said that to begin with it  would have saved a lot of frayed tempers and nerves…..finally, at nearly midnight we got underway to Montreal some 2 hours drive away….it was not a good start; being hot, tired, dehydrated and aggravated.

In the background to this debacle, and unknown to most squad members, our advance party had discovered problems with our hotel reservations – despite having been agreed for almost a year in advance. Our Team Manager, Mik had been sitting up all night trying to resolve the problem, it transpired that our reservations had been meddled with and had upset all our rooming plans, leaving some folk without the rooms they wanted, some having to bunk together or even no place at all. Mik worked tirelessly to restore some semblance of order and by the time the main group arrived in the small hours of Friday morning we all had the rooms we needed – hurrah for Mik!

Our schedule provided us with a weekend to find our feet and get everything squared away, mostly we were anxious to check that our rifles and scopes had survived the best efforts of the baggage handlers, so we headed to the small commercial range at Stittsville to check out our kit, mercifully there were no reported problems at that stage. Next on the itinerary was a branch of the famous Cabelas sporting goods store which had opened the previous autumn, naturally that was high on most folk’s list of places to visit. It was an enormous emporium of everything related to hunting, shooting and fishing and we spent a good couple of hours carefully scrutinising everything and doing mental arithmetic conversions of dollar prices into pounds. It transpired that bargains were rather few and far between which was a little bit of a let-down, but nonetheless we all enjoyed pouring over open shelves stacked with heaps of gun-related goodies. Other members who shared an interest in military history went to the Canadian War Museum and it was well worth the trip into Ottawa to see it. There was also a widely-publicised “rib festival”, it sounded promising, but turned out to be a very big commercial enterprise, not the small independent artisans we’d anticipated.

Our hotel was situated a short distance from the Connaught ranges, only about a twenty minute drive away, it was to become a very familiar route to us over the next fortnight. We first visited the range on Sunday to get our rifles inspected to ensure they complied with the rules. There were some rather worried expressions in the queue, but mostly unfounded, the majority of shooters know the rules and were well within them, I heard of only two of our party who had weight problems which they eventually overcame, by the judicious removal and replacement of parts.

Worried expressions in the weigh-in queue...

Thanks to Mik and Gary we were well-equipped with trollies and excellent team shirts; Mik sourced some trollies which proved invaluable for hauling all our kit around the wide expanse of Connaught ranges, this was due to having restricted parking which meant that long walks were pretty much inevitable, which would have been arduous without the trollies. Gary very kindly arranged to supply team shirts made of high-tech’ materials which wicked away perspiration and reflected the heat; keeping us comfortable in the high temperatures and humidity.

While in this preparation time, an unfortunate piece of news came to us via the NRA staff at Bisley.  They had been doing routine checks of the team members and had found that one of the F/Open team was not an NRA member! This immediately disqualified him from shooting for the GB team and unfortunately meant that we were a man down right from the start. It was a very upsetting and embarrassing incident for the team management and especially for the shooter concerned.

The hotel used to have a reasonable restaurant and bar attached, I say ‘used to’ as we discovered that the facility had closed just a couple of weeks before our arrival which was unfortunate. No matter however, there were several very good eating places within easy walking distance, there was something for everyone; Italian, Thai, seafood or burgers so it probably worked out better than just staying at the hotel restaurant. Our GBFCA webmaster and pro-photographer, Steve Thornton was the first to spot an excellent bar: “Mort’s Pub” which had the only good beer we could find and served superb home-made style pizza. It is fair to say that we were never in danger of starving or dying of thirst. It turned out to be a favourite of the “Spindle Shooters” too, and that’s a pretty good recommendation.

The Canadians certainly know how to run a big match efficiently, top marks to the highly capable DCRA staff who had all our squadding details all ready for our team management  to pick up and distribute; it meant that everyone knew  well in advance which details they would be on for the next fortnight and could plan accordingly if car-sharing.  Good administration took a weight off the Captain’s minds and it meant we were all set and eagerly anticipating the matches to follow.

The Canadian Nationals

Prior to any World Championships, the host country has to provide a warm-up match and it usually transpires to be their National Championships, that was the case with the DCRA matches which were spread over three days of shooting; two days of individuals and a day of team-shooting.

This was the first time many of our group had shot over the Connaught ranges, so they were keen to get to grips with this unfamiliar range and hopefully get a handle on how to cope with it. Gary Costello is no stranger to the range having been there twice before and that seemed to give him a head-start, Gary medalled in the Sierra 3 Challenge. At the other end of the spectrum, Joe West, Jason Scrivens and Simon Gambling had never set foot on Connaught ranges before, yet Simon won the Sierra 1 Challenge!, Joe shot superbly to win 8th place overall, and Jason  came 4th in the Sierra Challenge Aggregate - It really looked like we were getting off to a very promising start.

The start of the Canadian Nationals...

The team matches took a somewhat unusual format; it is the prerogative of the host country to lend some national flavour to the matches of course, and in this case our hosts had devised a hybrid team format of four F/Open and four F/TR shooters per team. The rationale is that smaller countries might struggle to field a full-strength 8-man team in a single discipline, but could feasibly manage a team comprised of 4 from each discipline.  It is a novel and innovative format, made for a good reason; to encourage wider participation and it will be interesting to see if it is adopted elsewhere. The GB team performed strongly together and won the silver medal for second place! The portents augured very well for the future and we were buoyed up with optimism.

Russell Simmonds waiting for the 900 meter matches the Canadian Nationals...

After the Canadian Nationals, we took stock of the range; our impressions of Connaught were that it was not an easy range and in fact seemed more difficult than on previous visits; the wind flags had a tendency to remain limp and flat against their thick poles which to all intents resembled telegraph poles, the flags only seemed to break free of their poles when there was already about two minutes of wind present. The  flags were lower and nearer to the bullet’s trajectory  than Bisley flags which was good thing, all the same they seemed difficult to read at times, masking what must have been quite significant angle changes, pick-ups and let-offs. Mirage was not quite like the thick boiling water of previous visits, but at times it did seem to be rather contrary to the flags and was even seen to operate in different layers. This was not going to be easy at all and was the cause of some excitement tempered with trepidation for the shooters and their team coaches.

The World Championships

Saturday the 12th, the 5TH World Championships got under way with an opening ceremony which included speeches and national anthems being played. It is a very solemn and respectful occasion silently standing to attention to all the tunes, there was a brief moment of levity when the host’s own national anthem refused to play on cue. Many of the local Canadian shooters swiftly came to the rescue by singing “O Canada” unaccompanied; that was really a very moving sight and sound.

The DCRA organised a superb reception to ‘meet and  greet’ fellow competitors, this was held in an impressive large hotel and conference centre a short distance from the range;  it was an excellent evening, it struck just the right balance between formal speeches & introductions and an informal stand-up buffet. The food was good, and even better, there was a free bar with beer that had been kindly donated, though we were all well aware of not over-doing it.  Everyone looked very smart indeed their uniforms, our ruddy complexions seemed to be a mixture of sunburn and being well-scrubbed for the big occasion.

As I’ve often said, there’s more to shooting than banging holes in paper targets, the social side of things is very important too and the World Championships gave us a superb opportunity to put ‘names to faces’ in meeting shooters from all over the World. It was a great pleasure to meet many distinguished members of the shooting community; such as the Canadian Chou Brothers, Will and Kevin – what excellent ambassadors for their country, being very kind, genial and hospitable hosts. We also met Daniel Chisolm of Silver Mountain target fame, who kindly donated an eTarget to be given away at the awards ceremony.  Mr Chisolm also volunteered his time to be an RO. Brian Litz was there too and was patient enough to dispense advice and answer questions about ballistics.

Waiting for the start of the World Teams Championships...

The format for the World Championships had been amended for this, the fifth tournament; instead of the usual two days each of individual and team shooting, now we had three days of individuals and two days of team shooting. It was a very welcome change, as making it a three-day contest is, in the long run a fairer format; it rewards the more consistent shooter while helping to iron out the perceived advantages of any occasionally ‘lucky’ detail. The World Championships  were coming ‘home’ to where F-class was invented and back to Connaught ranges where the inaugural matches were held in 2002, when Wolfgang Scholze of the German BDMP won. Of the original membership of the old 2002 GB squad, I believe only Mik and I returned to do battle again.

We were really looking forward to this, even more that you’d expect for a World Championship, this time the arrangements seemed ideal for us; we’d be shooting on familiar grassy mounds, in our familiar paired shooter format and with paid markers. All the signs and portents seemed to be in alignment and set for a resurgent GB team.

Very quickly, reality came crashing in when the results from the first 700m stage came filtering through; the scores were stratospherically high – higher even than they had been in the Canadian Nationals. The best our squad could manage was Martin Townsend’s 8th place in F/O and Matt Jarram’s 11th place in F/TR. This was the World Championships after all, you’d expect the standard to be high, it was just alarming how high it had climbed in the four years since Raton. Little did we know that our under-whelming performance at 700m was to set the tone for the entire tournament.

Day one - was disrupted by the unwelcome approach of a major rainstorm, accompanied by thunder and lightning. Standing in a field holding lightning conductors is clearly unsafe, so the DCRA wisely cancelled all shooting for that day. It meant that only the scores from 700m stage would stand, 800m and 900m being scrubbed from the programme. Given the monsoon-like intensity of the rain, nobody was willing to argue and we all repaired back to our hotels to dry out. There were many references to typical “Diggle” weather and how the locals there would have just carried on.

Day two - was a better, fresher day as the rain had moved on, allowing us to get on with the match. It still felt as though we had all to play for with only one stage in the bag, I recalled how Wolfgang Scholze had won in 2002 even though he had not medalled in any of the stages, proving that it was consistency that mattered. That said, we still hoped for better performances, but it was not to be, few of the squad seemed to be on top form – or was it that we were simply being outshot by better shooters? Whatever the reason, notable performances by GB shooters were very few and far between – Martin had fallen to 14th and Matt had fallen back to 33rd, only Paul Sandie was shooting at World-class level, finishing day two in 3rd place.

Day three - was of a different format, it comprised two details at 900 yards, both of them were barrel-testing 2+20 trials of endurance. The first detail was truly a ‘bunny detail’, there was barely a breath of air (or so it seemed to observers), though it was actually quite true; shooters in that detail had only to ‘shade’ the V-bull. The scores coming off the line were truly awe-inspiring! The condition held for the late details too, which was most unusual. It was a test of rifle accuracy at the highest level. Danny Biggs scored a 100.13 in F/O, while our Italian friend Gianfranco Zanonni came second in F Open with 100.12. In the daily aggregate, David Rollafson came highest in 33rd place, while Paul Sandie kept storming ahead, coming 10th.

It would have been tedious to have listed the outcome of every stage in the World Championships in detail, especially when so few of the GB team acquitted themselves well enough to achieve prominence, instead it will be more productive to focus on our rare success. In this regard there is only one GB member who performed to the very highest standards; Paul Sandie. This taciturn Scotsman has served a very long apprenticeship in F-class from his early days of club shooting, through regional open meetings, to National League matches, culminating in him winning the 2016 National League. Paul has timed his progression perfectly by peaking at the World Championships, he came 2nd overall in the World. Paul’s success is by far our most significant achievement and it is noteworthy that he used a 300WSM with Berger 230gr bullets in a rifle made by the UK’s top Gunsmith: Callum Ferguson. It would be wrong to attribute all of Paul’s success to the equipment; clearly the bullets need to be steered in the right direction and that is where Paul’s skill and judgement came into play – those things cannot be ‘bought’, they can only be earned the hard way, so all credit is due to Paul’s dedication to honing his shooting skills.

So why was there such a dearth of success when initially all the omens looked good for us? This is a question many shooters will be addressing to themselves over the coming months in looking for lessons to learn. GB shooters have access to the same barrels, the same bullets and the same scopes as every other shooter in the World, so why the big divergence in our scores and outcomes? Could it be that the rest of the World has ‘moved on’ in terms of their application and we have not?

I have no wish to wash our dirty laundry in public, we all know we under-performed and we all have our own experiences to draw upon to indicate why that happened. Suffice to say that we and our future team management will be chewing this over for many months, if not years to come.

Regarding the match in general, Scott Bissett and his DCRA colleagues ran a very tight ship; rules were clearly being enforced; throughout the match, competitors were being selected at random to have their rifles re-weighed and their ammunition checked for conformity with the range restrictions. It was good to see this enforcement of the rules, it ensured that there was a ‘level playing field’ for all and that the match was as fair as it was possible to be.  It still gave one a tightening feeling in the stomach though when the RO approached and seemed to hover in the background, looking for another victim.

At first we thought on-site catering was a bit lacking, but then John Carmichael of HPS Supplies, who has emigrated to Canada came to the rescue with local knowledge; he informed us that his club on Connaught ranges was open to all comers throughout the matches and served an excellent array of reasonably-priced food and drink. This was very welcome indeed and once news of the club’s existence spread among the competitors, the queues grew longer every day. The club treasurer will be very pleased indeed with this windfall boost to the club finances!

The Team matches

The format for the International and Rutland team matches was as before for previous World Championships; two days of shooting 2+15 at three distances. Now was our chance to redeem ourselves by working together as teams with our coaches to show what we were truly capable of, there seemed to be an excellent prospect of us winning a medal, even if it was a bronze, we felt a medal was well within our grasp.

Conditions looked perfectly manageable; bright and dry with light winds, though from our recent experience in the Canadian Nationals and the World Individuals we knew those light winds could be absolutely treacherous – they tended to be unstable, switching to-and-fro, and with little apparent indication or warning.

Day one - At 700m the F/O team got off to a good though not great start with 591, losing 9 points at the shortest distance didn’t auger well, could this be Raton 2013 all over again? Our colleagues in the F/TR team also had their work cut out for them.

At the 800m stage there was an unfortunate incident which rocked us – as the targets were raised, a single shot rang out, the targets were quickly dropped and the Chief Range Officer demanded to know the culprit – it was our Mik!  In all fairness, blame was shared by both the CRO and Mik, as the CRO had wrongly sent “message 1” to the butts and our coach Martin had instructed Mik to fire. The Team Captains had a meeting to decide what to do, and seeing as the range was ‘live’ and that blame could be apportioned to both sides, it was decided there should be no penalty. This decision was subsequently upheld by a second meeting of the Team Captains and by a subsequent meeting of the match committee. It was nevertheless an unsettling incident which may have disturbed the team focus. There was much good-natured banter and leg-pulling at the next stage with other teams encouraging Mik to go ahead and fire the first shot – but there was no fear of him doing that again!

By the close of play on day one, the GB teams were already playing catch-up, F/O were 17 points adrift of the leaders, while F/TR were 32 behind. It left us all with ground to make up – not an insurmountable amount at all – it was still achievable for us to come home with a medal, though realistically gold was now slipping from our grasp.

Day two - of the teams match, now the wind decided to practically die on us, this isn’t really what was needed for F/Open – we could have benefited from a stronger wind to churn things up making it more of a wind-reading contest. Conversely, our colleagues in F/TR had been hoping and praying for light winds to enable their light 155s to prevail. Neither team were satisfied with the outcome; the light winds meant that the F/O team could not realistically close the gap between them and their rivals, though they seemed to come close at 700m only dropping two points. The F/TR team were having a terrible time of it; the winds were light, which is what they had earnestly hoped for, having gambled on using light, lower BC bullets, but the light winds tended to be very twitchy and unstable and the wind coaches had the greatest of difficulty in tracking those movements, consequently the team lost more and more points, falling further behind at each distance. F/TR fell another 30 points behind, while F/O fell another 16. It was especially heart-breaking for the
F/TR shooters to witness; three years of hard training and huge expense was coming to naught – even in the hoped-for light winds! Had it been a strong wind the result might have been far worse, as every other National team used heavy, high-BC bullets which would be expect to confer an advantage in strong winds.
So, why did the choice of light bullets fail to perform in the light winds the team wanted and got? That’s a very tough question which will be on the minds of the F/TR team and probably only the team and the management are in the right position to fully address that question with all the available information they have.

Why did F/Open team not live up to expectations and bring home a medal? – even if only a bronze?, well it would seem that we had our fair share of difficulties to overcome; being a man down from the outset wasn’t good, then I must hold up my hand and plead guilty to having a rifle that declined from mediocre to being frankly, a carbon-wrapped barrel of crap! so I was ruled out of the squad, leaving us two men down, then another two other rifles began to show signs of unusually rapid deterioration due to accelerated throat & crown erosion, which meant they were also unreliable as team rifles, leaving us with barely 12 good or reasonable rifles. It was not an auspicious start to have some many rifles rendered unavailable for use, we were perhaps fatally weakened. When all of the above was added to the stress of being distracted by the errant shot on day one, we were simply not at our best as a full-strength focussed team.

We tried our best on day two, giving it all we had got, but sadly it was just not enough. We endured scope and bipod failures, barrel erosion and elevation issues with ammo’, it all conspired against us to ensure that we simply could not make up any ground, in fact we lost even more. The light winds tended to chop-and-change direction rapidly and with little apparent warning, which confounded and confused the FTR coaches, causing them to lose even more ground to the teams with heavier bullets. The F/Open guys with their high-BC bullets didn’t fare any better, as the distances increased so did the number of lost points, the coaches struggled and wondered what was it that we were not seeing?

No doubt the questions and recriminations will rumble on for a long time – they always do when teams return home empty-handed. The Captains made their choices and must live with them, all that can be said is that during the World Championships, by witnessing the best in the World we all experienced lots of opportunities to learn, to progress and to develop, hopefully those lessons will be noted and passed on to the next squad of GB shooters and their management. Mind you, there’s one person who doesn’t need to reconsider anything; Paul Sandie will be reflecting on his glory for a very long time now – well done Paul.

A lot of credit is due to Russell Simmonds who has spent the last 3 years working very hard to build an F/TR team, although they did not succeed, Russell has succeeded in creating a resilient and cohesive team who all work together and hang out together, this team cohesion was evident at Connaught where they clubbed together to buy gazebos so they could shelter together and later off range they enjoyed team dinners together. All the hard work and money spent on forming an F/TR team has laid sound foundations for the future. In contrast the F/O shooters had no gazebo, no team dinner and tended to be fragmented on and off the range. It shows that a team doesn’t just happen, it has to be built up from scratch. Despite all the trials and tribulations, morale in both squads was still surprisingly high; we had been beaten by better teams and there is no shame in that, we must simply try harder.

This article isn’t the right place to rehearse all that happened in the team matches and what could or should have been done differently, that process will be taking place at clubs and ranges right now and will no doubt continue for a long time to come, hopefully it will result in some sort of consensus on what is to be done in future, for one thing is absolutely certain; nothing stands still and the rest of the World have improved - while we have not.

Speaking personally, as a register-keeper, it was a pleasure to see up close and at first hand the National teams of America, Canada and Australia. Each team was impressive in terms of the kit they deployed of course, but I was particularly impressed by the professionalism they each displayed in terms of their communications, tactics and organisation. There is much we can learn from studying those who have consistently beaten us in the last two World Championship cycles. They have clearly moved on since 2009 whereas we do not seem to have. Again, this article isn’t the correct place to air those matters in any detail, this is simply an acknowledgement of the favourable impressions our competitors have made.

Although GB did not enter a Rutland team in this FCWCs, we followed with great interest the contest between such high-profile teams as; “The Spindle Shooters”, ”KP Ballistics” and “Da Bulls”. What they all had in common was a coterie of very talented shooters and wind-readers, each team was brought together by some common factor such as; geography, commercial backing – or just friendship! Their skill level displayed was simply stunning and their enthusiasm was infectious! I confidently predict that we’ll see much more interest in similar Rutland teams in future.

The independents

The official GB teams were not alone in representing the GBFCA – we were accompanied by a contingent of independent GBFCA members who were competing as individuals or as members of team “BRAM” – standing for ‘British American’, a Rutland team organised and kindly sponsored by Biff Conlon of the USA, who has been a good friend to previous GB teams. Carrie Ryan, Peter Baxter and Neil Hampton competed along with Biff in team BRAM, but sadly they had as little luck as the GB teams, coming last in the Rutland matches. One other independent shooter worthy of special mention was Gianfranco Zanonni, the big genial Italian very kindly supplied shooting mats for the F/Open team and was perhaps divinely rewarded for his generosity by winning Silver for his superb 100.12 at 900m. It was a superb performance and Gianfranco will remember that day for a long time to come.

The winners

Although the focus of this article is on the GB teams, it would be entirely remiss and churlish not to report the winners of the most important F-class match in the World.

If there was ever a special prize for consistency, then the USA’s mighty F/TR team would win hands-down, yet again they have prevailed; they have now won every single World Championship they have competed in. That is an enviable record of success in any sport!  They simply have immense strength in numbers and depth of talent and will always be ‘the team’ to beat.

Paul Sandie receives one of his medals...

Derek Rogers has now earned the right to the title of “World Champion” and he richly deserves it, Derek has been a tough competitor for many years, he’s the only person to have won the US Nationals in both F/TR and F/Open.

In F/Open, the Australians proved themselves to be the best in the World - for the second successive time! This is all the more an astonishing feat, considering that they were absent for two cycles of the World Championships. Clearly they have been assiduously doing their homework and have melded into a strong, professionally-minded and well-prepared team. They have raised the bar and will be very hard to beat – especially if we ever meet them on their own home ground!

Rod Davies exemplifies the whole Australian team; young, talented and very good natured, he had all it took to come out on top of a very competitive field and be declared “World Champion”.  Rod himself told me that he doesn’t get out shooting as much as he’d like, so God help us if he ever does get more shooting!

Impressions and closing remarks

After two weeks of competing, we had ample time to form some impressions of what it is like to shoot at Connaught ranges, our impressions were very favourable; Scott Bissonette and his DCRA staff worked like Trojans throughout the Canadian Nationals and FCWSs. Scott sported a badge saying: “Chief Cat Herder”, it was a most apt job-description! The hardest workers of all were the girls from the Falls River School who performed the target marking throughout the two weeks. They were superb, fast and accurate, in all that time I heard just a handful of ‘message 4s’ and ‘message 5s’ and half those message 5’s were denied. On our previous recce we noted that the toilets were a problem, this seemed to have been acknowledged as there were Portaloos strategically placed across the ranges and they were well-maintained.  On the afternoon of day 1 of the individuals, when the powerful rainstorm lashed the range, on our return to the ranges, one of the Portaloos had been blown over… we didn’t envy anyone the task of dealing with that particular problem…

What a contrast there can be between World Championships; Connaught was a sheer pleasure, shooters had ample time to relax and take in the view downrange and to be in position to give their best when their time came to shoot. It was a civilised affair and I would predict that the DCRA will see an increase in visitors to their matches in future by shooters who were favourably impressed.

At the closing ceremony, a member of the winning Australian team delivered a superb speech in which he graciously thanked the hosts and furthermore addressed the question; “what was it that made F-class so appealing to him?’ He concluded that it was not the rifles, not the scopes nor the ammo’, it was the people. It was the people we encounter in the clubs on the ranges and at the matches. F-class is a very sociable activity, bringing together people from all walks of life, of all ages and abilities. There was loud applause from everyone there.  Paul Reiben was also there and as an early associate of George Farquharson, his earlier stories of their friendship brought to life the early days of F-class and how it all got started in Canada. F-class was started to enable older shooters to keep shooting and socialising with their friends, nothing has changed it is still all about friendship and shooting, it is a winning formula and long may it continue.

Des Parr


PS. The return home; well, what can one say? Let’s not get too distracted from the main theme of this article which was the FCWCs – speak to any GB squad member for that awful story.



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