Chichester Rifle Club’s outstanding junior marksman, Robert Dowling, has returned from the USA where he has been competing in the national championships at Camp Perry, Ohio, as part of the British pershing team.
Dowling was selected for the 12-man team following extensive trials last year.
This prestigious match takes place just once every eight years and competition for places is tough. The travelling team of 12 must first compete in the USA national iron sights championships where the top ten in the team earn selection to shoot in the match for the Pershing Trophy.
Practice took place in hot and humid 95C tempertatures and the team were faced with a firing point which was completely alien to them, being grassed rather than paved, and extremely uneven.
Following strong winds, heavy rain and thunderstorms, they arrived at the range to find part of the covered firing point blown away and, with a thunderstorm still raging, the first match was delayed for nearly three hours.
All competitors then had to spend more than three hours in the intense heat which, for a sport which requires extreme levels of concentration and calmness, was challenging.
The second day saw no let-up and by the end of the day Dowling had earned a place to shoot in the British team of ten.
The British squad were divided into three teams of four shooters each firing 20 shots at 50 and 20 shots at 100 yards (a Dewar match). Dowling’s team finished the highest of the three British teams in sixth place.
Temperatures dropped and the British team gathered on the firing point for a final briefing from the captain and coach.
Shooting started at 50 yards and, for those watching, the scale of the challenge soon became clear with the USA team posting a formidable 2,000 points with 181 Xs (central bulls) to the Brits’ 1,995 pts with 150 Xs.
The 100-yard competition saw the USA score 1,998 (158) against the Brits’ 1,991 (148). Dowling posted the third highest British score with 399 (32), losing his only point at 50 yards.
The last two days brought the Any Sights competitions and Dowling finished the Wednesday dropping just one point out of 1,200 placing him fourth overall and the highest-placed collegiate.
His final day was good enough to make him second-placed collegiate and his reward for mastering the draining heat and humidity on the shores of Lake Eyrie was to win the trophy for the highest-placed collegiate over the two days of Any Sights competitions.
It will provide a sound base for what should be a long and successful shooting career and the British team won’t often come up against competition which included so many serving military snipers who have the opportunity to train full-time, and an Olympian.