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SIS Weekender by Ryan Charlton

Originally published October 2021.

Following a long drive up to Scotland I found myself in a hotel bar with a group of shooters prepping for a first of its kind shoot, the SIS Dynamic, which was shot as a pair. The Dynamic promised to test the entrants physically and mentally across a series of blind stages, with some added challenges along the way! I normally like to go into a good level of detail on matches and events however due to the problem-solving nature of this event, the report will be deliberately vague. If you like the sound of it, get in touch with Gardner’s Guns and sign up. It will only go from strength to strength.

When this event was announced I volunteered to run a stage, rather than shoot. As fun as it sounds, the Dynamic is not where my particular interests lie, so I didn’t want to take a space from someone who would really enjoy themselves. Something to remember when we’re shooting, is that all of these events rely on volunteers to run smoothly and by volunteering to help it allows someone else to take part! This proved to be a good move as everyone who I saw go through the course was thoroughly enjoying themselves.

Following a low key social to celebrate the first occasion in a while that lots of us had been together, we were all safely tucked up in the hotel by 11pm to ensure we were ready to shoot in the final round of the regular Send It Series match. Thick fog was threatening visibility throughout the day and to ensure safety when visibility was low, shooting was paused.  This meant the social theme continued and there was a lot of interaction between squads which added to the relaxed atmosphere.

The course was once again challenging for all abilities and whilst the par times were longer than usual, which meant more time to build a steady position and as a result a higher hit rate, the barricades and tricky winds kept us on our toes! The stages featured a lot of movement which is something I’m a big fan of, as it forces shooters to break and rebuild positions with the pressure of the timer. Someone who is always excellent at this is Jack Crawford and being squadded with him I got to watch him take everything in his stride as he was shooting super consistently.

Gardner’s had brought out their wobble bed which is a suspended platform and as the name suggest, wobbles… a lot! This has not been a good prop for me historically as I’m not particularly light of foot. This means that the bed moves lots as I climb on and my natural instinct to rattle off shots takes over! However, with a longer par time and having watched others do well at previous shoots I slowed right down, working my bolt slowly and scored the highest score of the day of the stage. Whilst walking to our final stage after a strong performance on the wobble bed, Jack counted up the scores, discovering that he and I were tied. With neither of us wanting to lose out on bragging rights, we decided to treat the final stage of the day as a shoot off. Unfortunately, the fog had other ideas and before either of us were able to engage the target it came in thick which put an end to the proceedings.

With some squads missing a stage, the team at Gardner’s took an average of the overall hit percentage so the scores reflected the days performance. It wasn’t ideal but it meant that both Jack and I tied for first place, Mike Barrett was second, with Timo Turl and James Ford sharing the third podium spot.

I also managed to squeeze in a visit to Orion Firearms Training for a Great Britain Precision Rifle Association shoot, which acts as a qualifier to the World Championships in 2022. Thirty of the best precision rifle shooters in the UK had assembled to see who came out on top. The course of fire was released the night before the shoot and what stood out was the really tight par times, some quick maths revealed an average shot time of just over 6 seconds! Whether it was the short par times or the record turn out, the morning felt rushed. Following a zero check stage I felt I’d had a nightmare on my first two stages, only making two impacts! However, watching some of the other great shooters in my squad this seemed pretty ok. I’d approached every shoot this year with the plan to make solid positions, taking advantage of my easy shooting new 6×47 to see my shots land. This paid off on my final stage of the first area, although only getting 4 shots off on a 9 round tank trap stage, I hit with all of them, seeing each shot land meant I got a good idea on the wind.

For the second portion of the course, we moved down the hill for next three stages, full credit to match director Tim Brush from the GBPRA, he took on the feedback from shooters on the par times and averaged the shot time to around 10 seconds. This played into my game plan and meant I only dropped 8 points on the next 3 stages; missing twice on the prone part of a barricade stage and failing to get my final two shots off on the trolley stage – this stage penalised you with a 50% point reduction for the stage if any part of your gear left the trolley (including your empty brass). It was heart breaking watching Alex White hit 10/12 shots only to eject his final shot and finish on 10 points instead of 20! Thankfully Alex took it in his stride and cleaned the next stage, shot from the 3 bars of a sheep pen; a tough act to follow. Thankfully I also made 12/12 hits.

Following a brief break for lunch we drove to the final area to round out the last 3 stages, which included a stage that required building two barricades to take 4 shots from each using 3 tyres and a mop bucket! A very awkward downhill prone stage, shot at a target up on the hillside needing 10 shots in 60 seconds, I threw the plan out of the window for this and worked the bolt as quickly as I could making each shot count. The final stage was 12 shots from a “roof top”, 6 at a close target prone and 6 at a further one kneeling. This was far from a perfect stage and highlighted the importance of staying calm whilst working through the stage. During a transition my rifle slipped off the end of the rooftop, but I quickly caught it. This is why it’s so important to only close the bolt once you have a good position and can see the target. I also fluffed my final single fed round, but managed to hit with my last shot just before time ran out!

Much to my surprise at the end of the day I’d put the highest score of the day, with Jack Crawford putting in a solid score to finish second and Timo Turl not too far behind in third, making it a repeat of our previous match and a great way to lead into the next PRS-UK event.