Hugh Burns bright
Course setters at Hillsborough hoped for some high scoring during the recent Silentnight Cup, after David Wallace won this event in 2012 with a 96.
The top score at a registered 100-bird event in the province stands at 98 – this record was set many years ago at Hillsborough and only a few shooters have come within a target of equaling it.
A clutch of shooters arrived at stand eight having dropped only a target or two but the last three hurdles proved the downfall of many.
Hugh Simms returned a 92 but Hugh Burns took High Gun on 94, just pipping Andrew McKeown’s Runner-Up score of 93.
County Down cracker
As always a fiercely-fought competition held according to tradition, on Easter Tuesday.
With 90-plus scores coming in from early morning, it was going to take a score close to the 98 national Sporting record to secure High Gun.
Work commitments have kept Alan Kirkpatrick away from some of the earlier competitions, but a well-deserved day off saw him on the course mid-morning and going very well.
Three down going into the last stand, Alan wasn’t going to tie the record, but with another straight he finished High Gun on a cracking 97.
Joe Tomlinson, Stewart Clydesdale and Hugh Burns were tied on 91 for the County Down Championship, and waited eagerly for Down resident Chris Aiken and Jim Burns to finish.
Chris made it to stand nine for the loss of three targets but finished on 90. Despite losing a couple of full pairs, Jim Burns made it to the finish line on 93 to take the County Down title.
A very enjoyable Sporting course for this event from Derryboye club.
There was something of a double-header when Rathfriland Clay Pigeon Club hosted 100-bird DTL and the annual 50-bird Ulster Single-Barrel Championship.
With the silverware up for the Ulster Championship, it seemed the single-barrel competition would take priority, with many signing up early on.
The additional race for silverware meant the regular 100-bird competition was slow to start. They finally got under way, taking out eight squads across the three layouts.
Irish international shooter, Jason Coffey finished with a superb 99/293. He faced stiff opposition with Gordon McDowell coming close on 98/288.
There were some other strong scores that threatened for High Gun, including a 98/292 from Jim Crozier and some 289 scores from the likes of William Heslip and William Armstrong.
Meanwhile, the Ulster Single-Barrel Championship was popular throughout the day and it was Artie Griffith who set the pace early, firing a 49 to dominate. As the afternoon wore on it seemed there would be no opposition for the Bangor man, but a late challenge made for 11th-hour drama.
The final line was made up of Darren Bell, Noble Patterson and Hugh Ervine, fresh from their efforts in the 100-bird competition.
Darren and Noble dropped targets on their first line, while Rathfriland man Ervine hit 25-straight to put the pressure on Griffith.
However, his second layout was not as assured and he finished on 48, one behind the eventual winner – Artie Griffith.
Shooting resumes at Rathfriland later in the year, with summer league action on the horizon.
Four Seasons FITASC
Signs were all good at Four Seasons’ eagerly awaited opening 50-bird team selection shoot on Easter Saturday, which proved to be a dry, bright day offering stunning views across Lough Money, from the Forest layout, to the St Patrick statue perched high on a hill.
A 25 on the Forest layout from Lewis Bryans and all seemed to be running smoothly towards a sizeable and potential High Gun score, but it just got away from Lewis on the tricky peg three of the Lough layout.
This left Lewis tied with father Phillip on 44 – a good score but would it be enough?
With a testing teal and a tricky last peg on the Lough, a High Gun score of 46 was predicted. Exceptional shooting from Winston Gregg saw his 47 steal the day.
Shooters eagerly await a return to Four Seasons in high summer for the Ulster Open.
Good omens at Ballydugan
The first two shoots of the season looked to kick it off to a good start for Ballydugan, the venue for the 2013 Sporting International in September.
The course for the second registered shoot of the season had undergone quite a change from Ballydugan’s opener in February, but nevertheless it had the credentials to yield some very high scores.
Joe Tomlinson reached stand seven for the loss of only four targets but, like many before him, the last few stands proved very costly and he finished joint runner-up along with Hugh Burns, on 87.
Lewis Bryans has been scoring steadily over the opening shoots, and even with similar trouble to Joe over those testing closing stands, Lewis took his first High Gun of 2013 with a very respectable 89.
A very enjoyable course, the bitter cold and persistent rain playing its part in keeping the scores down.