FT Summer season part 2 - Grand Prix rounds 2, 3 & 4

1 Comment11 July 2023  |  Air Arms

FT Summer season part 2 - Grand Prix rounds 2, 3 & 4

FT Summer season part 2 - Grand Prix rounds 2, 3 & 4

The 2023 BFTA Grand Prix season consists of two double header weekends, with one round held on Saturday and a second on Sunday at a club local to the first. The idea is to save a little on travel costs for competitors while freeing up the calendar too. Welsh clubs Oaktree and Tondu hosted the first weekend of the season with rounds 2 & 3 during May.

(James Osborne EFTA Open champion)

The weather always plays such a big part in any FT competition and of course, we expected rain while shooting in Wales, but no, the weather was dry, mostly sunny, and hot (particularly on Sunday). So it was nice not to have to shoot in the rain but the course for the competitors at Oaktree despite feeling relatively short in terms of target distance was laid out in such a way to maximise the confusion caused by the breeze coming over the hill. As the club sits on a hillside it also meant that there were plenty of downhill and uphaill targets to contend with adding a little instability in aim.

(the only flat parking space in Wales, well, at Oaktree)

The Tondu course on the Sunday was a little more position friendly but consisted of a very exposed section that caught the wind and allowed the sun to steadily bake those competitors wearing their big heavy shooting jackets. Target distances were certainly longer at Tondu but both competitions contrasted nicely with one another making for an interesting weekend of FT.

An excellent score of 48 from Paul Eaton, an outright win, on Saturday was just ahead of Air Arms FT team members Jamie Squires shooting his XTi50, and unsurprisingly Dorian Falconer, Simon Evans and Jack Harris weren’t far behind that with 46, 45 and 45 respectively. Another successful day for the Xti50s. Gareth Clarke flew the Air Arms recoiling team flag winning the piston class with an excellent 42 ex 50. Sunday's scores were a little lower overall mainly down to the exposed section of course everyone found it tricky but Dorian Falconer continued his excellent form with 46 ex 50 for the round win. Fellow team members Jack Harris and James Osborne both had a good shoot with scores of 45 and 44. Tony Yerrell won the piston class and Jamie Squires achieved the top score in ‘A’ grade. All in all not a bad weekend for the Air Arms team.

(Simon Poulter facing the exposed targets at Tondu)

Field target shooters despite the name suggesting otherwise love shooting in a wood and the aptly named Weston Woods provided a beautiful woodland setting for round 4. The circular layout of the course kept everything nice and compact to give a nice sociable feel to the event. It felt like there were a good number of long targets to test shooters and the compulsory standing and kneeling lanes had something for everyone. The course builders had got the whole course difficulty just right with the long targets as there was little wind throughout the whole day and subsequently, scores were high.

The XTi50 has stolen the limelight a little since its release in the spring but it was the turn of the old FT favourite, the Air Arms EV2, to prove it is still a contender. Returning Air Arms team member Justin Wood hit every single target to score a perfect 50 ex 50. To clear any FT course is no mean feat but 50 ex 50 at a GP is something special that only a handful of shooters have managed. James Osborne managed to save some face for the XTi50 though returning a score just one point off Justin.

While still early days the Grand Prix league tables are beginning to take shape with Air Arms team members in good positions and the four individual teams doing well in their respective leagues. The Welsh Dragons lead the pack but only by the slightest of margins as we approach the mid-point of the GP competition with another double-header weekend for rounds 5 and 6.

Away from the BFTA competitions Blackbrook Country Sports once again hosted the EFTA (English Field Target Association) Open. Now in its third year, the competition held over 2 days and 80 targets, attracting competitors from all over the country to face the challenging Blackbrook conditions with its fickle wind. A shoot-off was required to decide the champion and a number of positions in all the grades which isn’t something we see with the league shoots and it made for a great (and tense) end to the weekend. John Chopping, Andy Williams and James Osborne all finished on 75 ex 80 to tie for the top spot and after a fairly prolonged shoot-off, James took the EFTA Open title with Andy 2nd and John 3rd.

 (Simon Evans in action at Blackbrook)

Gary Griffin
31 August 2023  |  12:15

I took part in Field Target from the late 80's until the early 2000's and loved every second of it. I seem to remember in those days James Osbourne was just beginning to prove himself on the FT scene as a fresh faced youngster (I'm 69 now). Andy Calpin was one of the big players in those days and was a big character! But Mr Walton kept him in check as I remember. There were lots of great people in FT then, just as I suspect there are now and I love the fact that it has gone from strength to strength and that HFT is growing as it is. I won a few medals in my time and a couple of plates and glassware prizes culminating in 1993 by winning the NEFTA Championships shot at Hull FTC ground just over the Humber Bridge, a fantastic venue. I only went for a practice but there was a few places left so my friends and I entered and the rest is history! AND I shot the course with my excellent Air Arms TM100 straight out of the box with Zieler 6-24x44 scope with a Christmas tree reticle. I always keep my eye on the FT scene because I enjoyed the sport so much but sadly left when I developed asthma and could no longer compete at the level that I needed to. Went into competitive Compound Archery for 15 years and won the Lincolnshire County Indoor Championships in the Queens jubilee year 2012. Now doing Bell Target shooting in which I won the Lincolnshire County Championships in 2019 just before the pandemic hit. Great to see Air Arms and James doing so well along with the rest of the Air Arms team, just carry on the good work!!