Lots of people ask about having a go at FITASC once they have a solid foundation in English Sporting, and it surprises me how worried they often seem about the transition. It really is not such a big deal, provided that you go into it with your head screwed on and don’t panic.
Rather than bore you with the finer details of the rules, I will direct you to the FITASC website (www.fitasc.com). Have a look at the rules section – this will give you all the information you need. On a very basic level, you are forced to shoot gun down. The highest point of the stock must be below a line on your vest (25cm below the axis of your shoulder). The gun has to stay here motionless until you can see the first target (not when you hear the trap go off).
The 25-bird layouts are made up of three or four pegs. There are four to five traps per peg, which are allocated a letter for reference. Each stand has a menu board that shows a combination of single targets, which you are allowed full use of the gun (two shots) at, and on-report or simultaneous pairs.
I am going to break down the technical aspects to give you the best possible chance of hitting a respectable score on your first attempt, and give you an insight into the areas you will need to work on.
Most people shoot gun up, or using a variation of gun up. This is not allowed in FITASC, so you will have to come out of your comfort zone a little in this respect.
The worst thing you can do is rush. Even if it feels like you are short on time, one good shot is better than two poor ones. If the gun mount is rushed, there is a good chance it will end up in the wrong place on your shoulder and the gun won’t shoot where you look. No matter how good your hold points and target reading skills are, the shot is going to miss if the gun mount is off.
I always encourage people to mount at what they think is half speed – this ensures a good mount and shows them how much time they have on the target if they focus on having one good shot.
Building your score
Most people manage to shoot the singles ok (after all, you have two shots) but struggle on the pairs.
A good trick when you get to the peg and are looking at the targets is to look at what the pairs are first.
If you dive in and shoot the singles as you seem them, you can find yourself having to kill the target in a different place when it comes to the pair. This will cause you to struggle. If you know you are going to have to shoot a teal on the way down in the pairs, take it there in the singles. That way you will only have to worry about one set of hold points and sight pictures rather than two.
Unlike in Sporting, you won’t be shooting from inside a cage. In FITASC, you shoot from a hoop on the floor.
The targets will often be all around you, and a degree of movement will be needed. Always make sure you have enough room to rotate – not only to your kill point, but past it to allow you to follow through. This may mean moving position mid-pair. Don’t be scared to do this, it will add kills to your score.
Because you won’t be repeating the same shot more than twice, you don’t have as much of a chance to find the birds as you do in Sporting (with three to five pairs).
This means you really need to pay 100 per cent attention to the birds when you get to the peg, making references on the landscape for kill, hold and visual pick up points. Get as much information on line and speed of the birds as you can, so nothing surprises you once you are ready to call pull.
People have an impression that the refs in FITASC are unusually harsh. They aren’t (certainly not in this country).
If it is your first time shooting a FITASC competition, tell them so. They are there to help as much as they can. If you let them know, they will do their best to make sure your experience is a pleasant one.
At the worst, you might get a warning. This is no big deal and the experience will probably stick with you so you will be unlikely to make the same mistake again.
The main thing is to relax, use your head and enjoy the experience. You might even find that it replaces your usual round of Sporting as your preferred discipline.