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!
We all book in and the wait begins. We are shooting the afternoon session and its still only 8am. A bacon butty and a trip round the fair later and its time for a bit of plinking prior to kick off
As we settle on the range we can hear the mutterings of others. Two inches of wind, no wind, half a kill left, a kill width right. Sounds like its going to be fun. The wind is swirling around and reading it is proving to be pretty difficult. Mr S is getting a bit cheesed off but then if the week before is anything to go by, windy is his middle name ;)
The morning shooters were putting in some impressive shooting and some high 40 were being racked up. Then news reached us of a course clearance. Conor McFlynn was the man and had set the bar insanely high for everyone else :(
Lunch was consumed (after Mike remorgaging the house and selling a kidney to afford the burgers). One briefing later and we are paired up with our shooting partners and ready for the off. I am starting in the open field area and to my surprise I read the wind perfectly on the first three lanes and knock everything down. My partner is not having such a good time of it and has already dropped three. Then the fun begins as we take the long walk back to lane one and the wooded section begins. After a few more knock downs and the odd dink I suddenly find myself on the first standing lane and after two minutes of wobbling around like I was half cut I had double dinked my first lane, this triggered lots of swearing, kicking at twigs and general childish behaviour culminating in missing four of the next five targets. The only consolation being my partner was having similar issues and between us we were doing a fantastic job of not ruining the paint job the course setters had loving applied to the targets. Things did improve and the targets started to fall but the damage was done. As the final few lanes approached I was on for a pb and I felt quite pleased with myself however whispers were beginning to reach my ears that my two North Oxon colleagues were fairing somewhat better. I finished up with a 30 which, whilst not setting the world alight didn’t completely embarrass me on my first Euros. I waited patiently for news from Baby Badger and the ‘Windy Weasel’. Josh’s result came in next and with a mid 30’s score he had shot very respectably.
We waited for Mike and as usual, and despite the two minute time limits he seemed to be taking forever. Finally word reached us that the wait might just be worth it and low and behold a jubilant Mr S came skipping across the grass with a mere seven fingers held aloft. He had shot a 43 which was one of the best scores of the session. The next hour involved escorting a over excited six foot school child as he deservedly revelled in his success. I was worried he might not even make it home that evening but little did he know success is a fickle mistress……..
5.30am and the day starts with a ‘pea souper’. A nasty accident on the M6 makes me realise just how dangerous our motorways can be. I arrive safe and sound and ready to shoot the morning session. A little time on the plinking range suggests the wind is being marginally kinder but still a bit unpredictable. We are paired up with shooters on similar scores from the day before and away we go. Anything over 45 yds seems to be going down but them pesky mid range reducers are playing havoc with my confidence. I am really regretting not joining the Spraggett Academy of silhouette shooting over the summer as the standers are making me look a bit of a plonker. My day seems to be following a similar pattern to Saturday and as I approach the final couple of lanes I am looking to better my PB. Last two lanes, first target down and on to the dreaded extreme elevated shot. Saturday I have allowed for elevation and fallen 6mm low. Advice on the day was to go straight at it. I remembered that on Sunday but then had a ranging discussion on the physical effects of gravity on elevated shots with a marshal and we agreed that ranging the bottom of the tree should work. Bugger, I missed it low again – last time I listen to someone with even less understanding of physics than me :). At least I should knock down the last two kneelers like I did Saturday. I approached the lane to see the word ‘kneeling’ had been swapped over night to my new favourite word ‘standing’ and I promptly missed both of them :).
So another 30 was my reward for the day. At least I would be celebrating a great weekend of shooting by Mike – wouldn’t I?
A little while later I was joined by Josh who had shot a remarkable 40.
I do mean remarkable as he was one of the very few in the session to better his Saturday score. He bore news that all was not well in the world of ‘Windy Weasel’ so I thought I had better go and seek him out to see what was going on. As I approached the normally relaxed Mr S was looking far from happy – in fact to say the wheels had fallen off was being kind given the heroics of Saturday.
He battled on but a 32 seemed scant reward for his efforts. To make it worse, and trust me it made it much worse, Josh’s remarkable Sunday meant he had beaten Mike overall. Could Mike feel any worse? Simple answer – yes, as they made him wear a special jacket all afternoon to denote how special he was ;).
But every cloud has a silver lining and this was clear as right at the death Mike found out he had won the cash in the C grade bandit – tenner in the pot comp. All’s well that ends well :)
There were a whole series of shoot offs for the top positions and Conor McFlynn just held off Neil Hague for first place.
As the light faded we gathered for the presentations and much to the delight of all the North Oxon stalwarts Josh collected the junior trophy. Well done ‘young badger’
All in all a fantastic weekend which I thoroughly enjoyed and met a lot of people happy to give me some excellent advice. Thanks to Mike and Josh for making it such a laugh and some excellent shooting by both. Roll on winter series