Precision Rifle Shooter Louis-Philippe Rembry looks back at the 2023 competition season
Another year has passed, and as usual, I sit down to summarize 2023 in a few words, a year-end report for the 2023 competition season. 2023 was a significantly quieter year than 2022, which is not surprising considering it was a World Championship effort, and we also welcomed our second child, naturally shifting the family's focus.
Throughout the year, two other World Championship shooters and I sought the assistance of a sports psychologist to optimize our mental focus and preparations. We aimed to elevate the importance of mental training in our regimen. The mental aspect is something that many, including myself, have often overlooked. It's quite peculiar because many interviews with elite athletes often reveal that they wish they had focused more on mental training in the beginning. This is not a "quick fix" but rather, the work in 2023, continuing into 2024, lays the foundation for the upcoming World Championship pursuit.
The selection of local matches in 2023 was considerably poorer compared to 2022, meaning that my first matches of the year were the major ones, which, in hindsight, was far from ideal. Comparing 2022 and 2023, I had participated in 3 matches in 2022 before the major competitions began, and this experience made a difference. Being a bit rusty, I made some mistakes that should not have occurred due to lack of practice.
The season started with the Botnia match outside Umeå, resulting in a 5th place finish. Given that it was the first match of the year with a large number of participants, I was content with that placement. Next was Östhammar, where I secured a 6th place. Only one point separated me from a 3rd place finish, so it was a tight competition at the top.
Shortly after these two matches, I began to feel more comfortable, and it was time for the national championship at Lomben (a military shooting range outside Luleå). After considering the recent drive back and forth to Umeå, we decided to fly. Tickets were booked, rental cars arranged, and accommodation at the shooting range was sorted. Surprisingly, flying with firearms within the country was straightforward, and the 3-hour journey was manageable.
Upon arrival, we loaded ourselves into the car and headed to the nearest shooting range, where we zeroed and inspected our rifles. Even though the rifles were packed securely in hard cases with custom-cut interiors, it's essential to ensure that the zero is maintained. Fortunately, no changes had occurred, which was reassuring.
The match spanned two days, featuring a variety of distances, from around 380 meters to 1000 meters, with an average distance of approximately 550 meters. Everything took place on the military shooting range, which was an incredible location to have access to. This match posed challenges on every front and was the most well-balanced match I've ever shot in Sweden, if not ever. Unfortunately, my performance here didn't meet my expectations, resulting in a 6th place finish, just one point away from 5th place. Nevertheless, this match provided valuable lessons and experiences that I carried with me for the rest of the season and will continue to apply in the future.
Shortly after the match, we welcomed our second daughter, and it naturally became a time to focus on the family. I only participated in a few smaller matches until the end of the year, but I managed to finish on the podium in all of them, including my first district championship, which I won.
The goals I set for 2023 were to be in the top 5 in all major matches and top 3 in all minor matches, as well as qualify for the 2024 World Championship team. I didn't quite achieve top 5 in all major matches, but since I was only one point away from my goals, I'm not disappointed. It simply means I need to shoot a few more matches before the major ones to shake off the rust. In the minor matches, I met my goal in all of them. Initially, I planned to qualify for the MIL/LEO (military and law enforcement) category for the 2024 World Championship, but my placements in 2022-2023 gave me the opportunity to secure a spot in the open category. After some consideration, that became the obvious choice to motivate myself to the fullest and continue improving.
As I mentioned earlier, the national championship was the match where I learned the most. Aside from some planning, equipment, and tricks, perhaps the most significant lesson was that a 6mm bullet is not optimal for matches with an average distance of 500-600 meters. While I had no trouble hitting the targets, the challenge was in seeing where the shots landed, as there wasn't much energy left in the bullet at longer distances. This made it difficult to assess wind conditions accurately. Also, spotting impacts outside the target at longer distances with a 6mm bullet was challenging. As a result, I plan to switch back to my 6.5 Creedmoor and use Norma 143gr GTX ammunition for 2024. There will be a significant difference in impact energy between a 105gr Norma DL and 143gr Norma GTX at 600 meters, and hopefully, this change will allow me to make better judgments for subsequent shots.
Summing up, 2023 was a quieter year with a focus on family, equipment, and planning for 2024. I'm eagerly anticipating the start of the next season!
I will attempt to film and document shooting activities in 2024 leading up to the World Championship, so please follow me on YouTube and Instagram, @mr.rembry.
Happy New Year, Louis-Philippe Rembry