Rounds 3 and 4 of the 2017 BFTA Grand Prix series contrasted each other nicely, if you forget about the similarities…
The similarities, well both courses consisted of 50 targets, but of course that is how it is meant to be. Seriously though, both shoots were based around a woodland course, both shoots had great weather (I’d rather be at a BBQ with a beer than shooting kind of weather) and both courses were well thought out and enjoyable to shoot. The top scores for the Blaenau Gwent and Bisley shoots were 49 and 48 respectively, pretty similar and both exceptionally good but for different reasons.
And what about the contrasts? Sorry contrast is probably more accurate, and that was the target positions. Blaenau Gwent is one of the few FT grounds in the country to offer the opportunity to shoot both up and down at some quite extreme angles at targets. Now, this makes FT even more challenging for your average FT shooter, as they perhaps aren’t the supplest. The course designers had to tread a very fine line between creating a stupidly hard and frustrating course and a challenging yet enjoyable one. I’m pleased to say the course was excellent though with just the right amount of challenge with high and low targets at varying distances complicated with a tricky breeze that at times seemed to come from all directions. The shoot was hard work but every target hit was felt good and well earned.
Somehow in the morning Redvers Gallagher scored a 49 with Jack Harris hot on his heels with a not too shabby 48. No one in the afternoon session could match those excellent results but Air Arms team member Mark Stenton flew the Air Arms flag recording a more than respectable 46 finished in 3rd place.
The woodland course at Bisley is gloriously flat, no hills to climb at all, wonderful! A couple of targets might have been placed high up on trees but didn’t come close to the discomfort we suffered in Wales. I have shot at Bisley many times I think the course on this occasion was the best I have shot. It isn’t easy to set out a course in such woodland that doesn’t become repetitive lane after lane especially as the wind doesn’t get through the trees too much and therefore it becomes tempting to put out the targets all at long distances. That being said, it was a windy day and the wind that made it through the trees certainly made everyone think as it switched around.
Dorian Falconer was the top Air Arms shooter at Bisley with an excellent 47, just one shot off the top score. Justin Wood and I were just behind him on 46 along with a host of other shooters, who if we were being honest, got a little bit lucky with the wind.
Iceni is one of the oldest FT clubs I know of and I have fond memories of shooting there in the early days of my FT career. It’s a ground with loads of potential and, despite how far away from my home it is, I am certainly looking forward to shooting.
Now, it might be my memory playing tricks on me in my advancing years, but the sun always seems to shine at Iceni and the sun didn’t let me down this time either. It was a beautiful day for shooting with a light breeze and thankfully a woodland course offering shade from the worst of the hot sun. Unfortunately, this round wasn’t that well attended, I think the location near Colchester meant long distances for many and the start of the holiday season was the reason for this but those who didn’t, or couldn’t, make it missed out on a really good course.
There were plenty of long targets and some tasty positional shots to test everyone’s FT ability, but to me at least, the course felt well balanced and remained enjoyable throughout the 50 targets. The wind was a strange one though switching direction on some sections of the course from second to second requiring constant vigilance. My shooting partner for the day and fellow Air Arms teammate, Mark Stenton, had a frustrating time missing several targets in quick succession while I had no problem. He soon got the measure of it and towards the end of our shoot it was me that suffered the same frustration.
Round 6 held at another long established FT club Castle was also a woodland course but with a different feel. The British summer was still behaving itself and once again we had fair weather throughout the day. Castle is a local to me and this is my reason (or excuse if you prefer) for my sub-standard shooting towards the end of the course. Why so? Well, I usually have a breakfast on the way to the GP shoots from a certain fast food outlet and I have to say it keeps the hunger pangs at bay throughout the day. I skipped my customary breakfast this time. However, (I’m working on my beach body), as a result I was starving long before we finished the shooting and consequently lost concentration…
The wind as always was a little tricky to keep an eye on especially on some sections of the course where longer targets were common. This was a high scoring day though with 4 shooters achieving 49 ex 50 and many others hot on their heels. To give you an idea how good 49 is on a GP course you can count the number of perfect 50 ex 50 scores from all the GPs ever held on one hand.
Air Arms team member, Sue Swift was very pleased with herself at Castle scoring 42 giving her a 2nd place in B grade, she seems to have found a little bit of form again of late so I expect there’ll be a few more good results from Sue before the end of the season. Andy Calpin, Paul Davies and Justin Wood all scored magnificent 48s, which also signals a return to form for these shooters. The team event still remains very much in the balance with just two rounds to shoot so hopefully the Air Arms team members will manage to find that form which is sometimes so difficult to find and maintain.
Full results can be found at www.thebfta.net