The alarm went off at five thirty and after thirty seconds or so of blind panic trying to find the clock before it woke the rest of the house I remembered, Euros weekend had just begun.
Coordinates plugged into the wife’s sat nav I downed the first of far too many weekend coffees and stepped out into a the fog. Fog! Bugger that wasn’t part of the plan – that should add a bit of interest to the motorway journey ahead. The trip was uneventful until I dropped off the motorway onto the A54 and started to follow the signs to the show. Logic dictates if the sign says ‘shooters’ and has a big pointy arrow on it then following it might be a good idea. That would be far too simple as After winding my way through a few miles of country back roads I pull into the carpark with the other ‘shooters’. At this point the lack of camo and ‘badger jackets’ is beginning to cause a little concern. A quick call to Mike tells me that I am at the wrong end of the show – b****cks. This is followed by twenty minutes of driving randomly round the show trying to avoid running over tweedy clad numpties who seem to think walking down the middle of the road is some form or gentry privilege. Eventually, with yet more assistance from Mr Spraggett I find the BFTA car park and take my place among the cream of the UK air gunning fraternity (plus me, Mike and Josh :)). At this point Mike informs Josh and I that he has a present for each of us. Five minutes later we are both wearing our new presents, North Oxon ‘Euros 2015’ baseball caps adorned with the words ‘Baby Badger’ for Josh and ‘Musty Badger’ for me in honour of our newly acquired shooting jackets –cheers mate!
Well there was certainly a little rain for the poor old AM shooters at ETL for GP 5 of the 2015 season! My day started at 4am as I was giving another shooter a lift to the GP and on the way I was thinking to myself, "Great, we have a really nice day here! Clear skies, no rain. I may actually put in a good score today!"
We arrived a little before 8 and had a chance to get a coffee and a decent bit of pre comp practice on the plinking range. Back at the briefing area whilst supping on the last of my coffee I felt the first few drops of rain hit my head! Not to worry though its only a little shower! How wrong was I! From 8:55 until about midday we had torrents, despite wearing my "waterproof" jacket I was soaked through. As a small consolation for the shooters behind me my trackie bottoms were absorbing most of the ground water!
The course was another well thought out affair and what it lacked perhaps in range it more than made up for with tricky standers and interesting reducers! I faired well over the day and put in a PB of 38 (I'm sure it would have been 39 if Tony was not stood behind me on the last lane!) and this was ....
It’s been a long time since I shot a GP, actually it’s been two years since I shot anything at all with my rifle, so I decided to dust it off and shoot the GP at North Oxon’s other venue, Weston Woods. Once I had registered to shoot on the BFTA website, I looked at the weather forecast and a couple of thoughts came to me frequently between registering and turning up at the event - a) What was I thinking and b) I really don’t fancy shooting in the rain. But, ever the optimist, I went to the North Oxon FTC range on Saturday to see if I still remembered how to load the rifle and point it the right way – and to check the zero. It was a lovely afternoon at the range and the rifle seemed to be unaffected by its 2 year stint in stasis.
There were quite a few spectators at this lane, trying to get some hints and tips before they shot it, or staring in awe as it was successfully conquered. It’s a hard angle to hold the rifle at too; you’re sitting on the ground, holding a rifle at what feels like 65 degrees, shooting the wings off a fly at the top of a skyscraper in another county. Two lanes use the tower, there are 3 targets attached to it; the lane in the picture has two targets on it and the next lane has 1 on the tower and one in the bushes on the far side of the lake. By some miracle I got two of the tower targets (my Zen had kicked in by then – well it was either that or the medicinal toffee crisp I had before the previous lane) and I got a little cheer from the gathered group who were watching. With my confidence semi restored, we headed on throughout the course. There was a forced stander up a scaffold tower; this one had my Zen evaporating instantly – I am not a big fan of heights and the stairs up to the tower were see through (eeek) and the whole structure felt a bit wobbly – once I got up there, there’s nothing to hold on to or learn against as the forced standing shot has to be unsupported. One target was out in the field and the 2nd was right below me, so another sharp angle, and for me, an uncomfortable lane. Once we had finished on the scaffold tower lane, we were back on terra firma and a nice, bog standard FT lane…
So it was our turn to host a GP and it's no small task I can tell you! Climbing up towers (Not me though ;-)), climbing up trees (Me this time) and generally doing a hell of a lot of walking!
The weekend started spectacularly when I arrived early to open the container at our usual ground to discover I had forgotten the key, so back home I went to get the damn thing and when I arrived back another member had shown up with theirs and were busy loading the van. Not being one to get in the way (or work too hard) I decided to take the tea and coffee and make sure the others had a hot drink when they arrived at Weston Woods, long story short I got lost and arrived as they did so a great start thus far!
We managed to make fairly good progress for about the first hour or two and then discovered that we would be setting up whilst an unexpected hen party doing a clay shoot essentially closed down half of the woods for us. At this point I think we were getting a little concerned that we may not actually get the course set up in time for Sunday, not to worry though we used the time constructively to eat Sausage rolls and yumyums :-)
Once we were clear to get back on course at about 2pm we made great progress and managed to get finished at 6pm despite running out of paint with 2 lanes left to go! I wore a pedometer and I walked 9.5 miles setting up the course and I have got to say I am thrilled we don't have any hills here as I could barely feel my legs at the end of the day.
For the second GP of the season we went to Tawd Vale FTC to what felt like the centre of a wind turbine! On lane one I managed a kill on a 50 yard target after giving 12" to the left! A crazy day in terms of wind although towards the last 30 minutes of the PM session the wind dropped enough to let me miss 4 on the trot with absolutely no excuses!
Not so well attended today by NOFTC but the C grade (Or soon to be C grade shooters!) braved the long drive up the M6 to what we down here would consider the distant north!
I think its fair to say we all suffered at the hands of this course with Josh and Tony shooting 14 a piece and myself with a 26,this will sadly reflect in our standings in the GP season so far not helped by a brilliant performance from Keith Gilyard (NEFTA) & Dan Eley (SEFTA) both scoring 41 in the PM session!!
One highlight from the day was one of my shooting partners being a NRSA standing coach! Got some good tips that hopefully will help me with my abysmal silhouette shooting performance (Only 6 at this round although I did beat Martin Calpin again so not all is lost :-))
Next GP is the North Oxon GP so we have some planning to do before the 31st!
The 2015/16 GP season started in style at the Avon Hawks club ground. It was a terrifically well thought out course with the added complication of a swirling wind thrown in which I think caught out nearly every shooter on the course!
The North Oxon contingent was 6 shooters strong (7 if we include our "responsible adult" Trisha) and our Junior team member Josh managing to pick up a junior trophy in his first ever GP!
For two of our members this was their first experience of GP competition and they both thoroughly enjoyed the day and will come back for GP 2 with a bit more confidence and I suspect they hope a higher score!!
Overall we were well represented for the first GP of the series and hopefully we can work on earning some silverware at the end of the season. Currently we have one team member in the top 20 of the hotly contested A grade and one in the top 10 of C grade.
Pistol shooting has rapidly become one of the more popular forms of shooting for fun and there is tremendous popularity for competition. There are 2 distinct types of sighting and 2 distinct forms of competition so 4 sets of results!
Pistol targets are either paper set out at 10metres or knockdowns anywhere between 8yds and 25yds, the much lower energy of a pistol requires dedicated targets and even when hit there are groans as the shooter’s pistol doesn’t have quite enough energy in the pellet to knock it down. Scores are like HFT; 2 points for a knockdown, 1 for a plate and the 0 for a miss.
There are 2 common sighting systems, Open and "Red Dot" Scopes.
Hunter Field Target (HFT) is another very popular outdoor shooting sport. There are more than one set of Rules but the following demonstrates some of the key elements.
Targets are “knockdown”, reset by a string and the shooter scores 2 if the inner “kill zone” is hit and the target falls back but 1 point if the inner zone is missed but the pellet hits any part of the “plate”. 0 points are given if the pellet misses entirely and heads for the forest backstop. The equipment is typically straightforward (and normal hunting or vermin control gear), a rifle (PCP or Piston), a scope, a glove and all-weather clothing. Additional items some find a benefit from include a shooting mat, pellet box or pouch and a calibration card (distances and reticle indcators). The scope can be focused and set to a user’s preferred distance before the course commences but once started the scope cannot be touched. There are no windicators or spirit levels permitted. The butt of the rifle can touch the ground or any part of the rifle can rest against the target marker post or a tree. Any position is permitted except for sitting i.e. prone, kneeling, standing. The shooter must maintain contact with the target peg (or marker post) while firing but this can be with the hand, rifle, foot, lower back, etc. Failure to maintain contact results in a 0. E.g.