Essex teenager Matthew Coward-Holley stunned the Double Rise establishment by taking the British Open High Gun on 13-14 April at Nottingham and District Gun Club.
Even at his young age Coward-Holley is no stranger to success, with Junior High Gun titles at events such as the Krieghoff Classic and Home International to his name.
Success on this stage was unprecedented, though, especially with the field dominated by a very small number of far more established names in recent years.
The first of those big names was Yorkshire plumber-by-day Paul Chaplow. Shooting a Krieghoff, Chaplow was shooting to win for his fourth English Open in five years, and did the ‘double’ in 2009.
The British Open, meanwhile, had the name Mullarkey stamped firmly all over it – Ian Mullarkey, another Krieghoff shooter, had taken High Gun for the previous consecutive three years.
By the time the first shooters took to the stands, the conditions had made it clear that this match was not a by-the-book affair.
High winds, which kept up for nearly the entire weekend, meant good scores were exceptionally hard to come by on an already challenging course.
When the dust settled, Coward-Holley, shooting a Perazzi with Cairngorm loads, had scored 93 and was one of only two shooters to break the 90 mark in the British Open.
The other was Austin Coxhead on 90 – enough for him to take A Class.
Chaplow took third place on 89 – but if he was disappointed not to add another British Open to his trophy cabinet, he can be happy with collecting his fourth consecutive English Open.
His 89 in the English was enough to edge Ian Mullarkey into second by a single target, while Coward-Holley scooped third.
“After coming third in the English Open on the Saturday and only being three targets away, I knew I would have to step up to try and win the British on the Sunday,” Coward-Holley told Clay Shooting.
“I was absolutely delighted to take high gun on the Sunday despite it being a very windy day, which took the targets off course very quickly. Despite this, Nottingham put on good targets. This is a good start to my season.”
Next up for young Matt are the DTL England selections at the beginning of May, and the Krieghoff at the end of May.
Meanwhile, Paul Chaplow said: “It was great to take the English Open Double Rise – it was the seventh time I’ve won this event. Im just starting to shoot more regularly after recovering from a serious illness and not knowing if I would be able to compete again. It was a worrying time.
“I reckon Matthew Coward-Holley will be a name to watch in the future. He has lots of talent and an old head on young shoulders. That’s a big advantage in this game.”
And Austin Coxhead said of his performance: “It’s a good start to the season. The wind definitely affected the scores.
“I could have had a few more, but the wind was blowing me off the stance position – but I guess it was the same for everyone.”
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