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Mid-Wales PR: a new venue?
Neil Beeby reports on a possible new venue for the Mid Wales PR Competition.

Having had a tour of the WMS Steel Challenge site in Mid-Wales I accepted owner Andrew Venables’ suggestion that I organise a small-scale trial run to test the feasibility of running a PR League match there. He thought 12 rifles ought to be the maximum so I invited PR match organisers and club representatives from around the country. A few couldn’t make it but it wasn’t difficult to find replacements.

The facility is private one and costs are higher than those of M.O.D. ranges, but it is free of the usual Landmarc constraints (hurrah!). All the targets are steel, some reactive, which means that there is no butt duty to perform and there are no rigid time constraints. It is, to all intents and purposes, a field firing range in spectacular scenery with impressive hills.

A number of difficulties were foreseen. Firstly, Andrew knew nothing about us and would need to be impressed by our safety and competence, as he would be dealing with larger numbers than he is used to. There are no red flags here; safety is the responsibility of the individual, as it always should be, with rifles being treated at all times as if they are loaded. A breech flag is not a licence to wave a rifle about. When on the firing point, whilst there is supervision and there are lookouts, one must decide for one’s self that it is safe to take a shot. Think deerstalking, but in a crowd! A second difficulty and the main purpose of the trial competition was to establish whether hits could be reliably registered by scorers on steel targets, with multiple firers and at long distances. Finally, could five or six stages be managed in a day?

Working with a few old courses of fire I had given to him Andrew came up with a plan for five stages, not cast in stone, which we hoped would provide the answers we needed. Firers were paired off like sniper teams and would spot for, coach and score each other. The first stage was a good warm up and test of our rifle handling: ten round steel plates at 140 yards in 30 seconds, sitting. This went well, so Andrew threw in a 10” pepper popper at 400 yards, uphill, from prone, which many of us couldn’t even see at first. Everyone took two shots one after the other as we lay line abreast. It was a hint of things to come but most passed the test and no-one was far off. Hits were plainly visible and audible. A promising start.

Next, ten shots at a swinging pepper popper at 500 yards, then animal silhouettes at 350, 500 and 600 yards, up to 3 shots each, 15 points for a first shot hit, 10 if a second needed, 5 for a third. It soon became clear that shots needed to be taken in isolation, in a ripple down the shooting line if hits were to be heard. Strikes seemed to generate a downward splash which to the uninitiated looked like a miss just underneath. Sound advice was given regarding the need for a ‘clockface’ system for describing location of hits unambiguously, with an agreed unit for describing the distance from centre (i.e. target widths).

The need to pause quietly and wait for the sound of a hit to ring back became very clear at 700 metres as it took several seconds; electronic muffs are a definite advantage here. Even at this distance it was actually possible to see a grey bullet splash on the yellow painted centres of the steels. At 1000 metres these could still be seen through a spotting scope. My black spot 155gn ammo was unstable at this extreme distance, though Nigel Greenaway was able to get impressive centre hits with his 175 grain 7.62 reloads. 900 metres might therefore be a sensible limit so that all can compete without specialised ammunition. Having said that Ann Nightingale’s 75gn .223 Hornady reloads were a revelation at 1000m. She got very close to the target and splashes could be seen clearly.

A long run-down from 550 yards to 200 yards with steel targets is also envisaged, but wasn’t attempted on the day. It would almost certainly be included in a future competition as a straight forward way the get a few more rounds down.
The icing on the cake was two shots each at a gong, pepper poppers and plates from the top of a hill down to a pond (about 400 yards), followed by a hostage scenario just for fun at about 300 yards (swinging plate over the shoulder of the hostage). The effect of the gradient on trajectory was noticeable here, and the water splash made it almost more fun to miss!
The consensus was that a league competition is entirely feasible, with careful spotting and listening by scorers and competitors alike. The ethos would have to be fun first, competitiveness second; the scorer’s decision would have to be final with unfavourable calls taken on the chin without a fuss (we are not footballers!). The emphasis would be on precision rather than a high round count. All shooting was done from a rest on this occasion but this would change for the competition proper.

In order to compete you will need insurance, an open variation permitting zeroing for the rifle you intend to use (as per stalkng, etc) or the relatively new standard condition for target shooting which states: “The firearms and ammunition shall be used for target shooting on ranges suitable for the safe use of that class of firearm and with adequate financial arrangements in place to meet any injury or damage claim”.
I’ve had this on my ticket for four years now; take a look at yours! The estimated cost will be between £70 and £100 per person. This may seem a lot but it will be a unique experience. Ask anyone who was there; I believe they’ll all be back for more!


A happy bunny.

Please let me know if you too would like to be a happy bunny later this year and whether you can meet the above criteria:

Neil Beeby



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