2012 was a mixed season (in the true sense of the term) for Scotland - some very good, some not so good and plenty of progress there to be made:
We started with a training weekend at Blair Atholl in April - a new initiative and one which worked well (even the weather!) and will be repeated.
The RAF weekend in May was very full in terms of training done around the match. Much was learnt; and, while we weren't quite on the pace of the England teams shooting alongside, we won the matches and retained the trophy.
June brought the Scottish Meeting and the Lawrence. Mike Fugeman brought a strong England team north and we overcame them by a mere three points to retain the magnificent trophy.
Unfortunately, the Army had scheduled our match on the same day as the Lawrence, and a weakened team struggled against strong opposition. There should be no clash next season.
The highlight of the season, as ever, was the Imperial Meeting, where there were some strong individual performances from members of the Scottish squad.
Team wise, the Cadet National team and the Under 25 National team provided a very strong start to the meeting, with several 105s and 104s.
The National did not, sadly, conform to the previous two years and we shot a little too loosely at all ranges and were convincingly beaten by England. We did achieve second place but only by a very narrow margin from Wales.
The Mackinnon, however, saw a strong Scottish performance. We led after 900 yards and, at the end of the longer range, had achieved a record Scottish score of 1170 - at the time, the third highest score by any team. The English, who finished later, were quick to come and congratulate us, but they had themselves broken the match record with 1176. Our shoot was very encouraging; but we were only six V bulls ahead of Wales, who clearly now present a formidable threat when at full strength.
The Combined Services match was once again used as a development fixture and there were good performances from some of the younger shooters as well as a valedictory top score of 149 from Malcom Mackeith.
Later in the season, we had a good fixture against the LMRA at Blair Atholl, retaining the match against them.
Finally, we found ourselves understrength for the European Long Range and finished a disappointing third - the only time Ireland have beaten us this year
How do we build on this?
We all want Scotland to perform as strongly as possible. To that end:
1. Please make yourself available for all the Scotland matches you can. In 2012 we were never in a positon to have our coaching team work together before the Imperial, let alone with all the relevant firers. Working together WILL benefit us;
2. To that end, please offer your availabiity to the organiser of East or West of Scotland or your county team for AT LEAST the Inter-Counties (in June) as well as the matches at the Imperial Meeting;
3. Make sure that, if you hope to be in the National or Mackinnon (and even if you don't, yet!), you can make the RAF weekend as it is our best opportunity to prepare for them together, as well as to learn/develop together. England get full teams out for that these days and we mustn't allow this match to be their advantage instead of ours as it used to be! If you cannot make the RAF fixture (but please do make it!) then be at the Scottish for the Lawrence;
4. Ensure you get sufficient training of your own in, particularly by starting your season early on the range. The April weekend in Blair Atholl can help with that. If you have access to SCATT or smallbore, take full advantage. OWN YOUR OWN PERFORMANCE!
5. Same goes for your kit - don't leave it until the season has started to make sure everything is in perfect working order. Again, own your own performance!
6. If there is anything at all impeding your ability to shoot as much and as well as you'd like, don't hesitate to mention it to me - one of us may well be able to help.
Have a great start to 2013. Dates for your calendars to follow shortly...