Mike Bartlett sets out to answer the most important question of all: who will cook dinner?
February was a time for booking competitions. Many of the majors opened for booking this month and experience from last year tells us that you need to be on the ball if you want to pick your day and times. The Fitasc and Compak events were also filling up fast as several of them are in the UK this year which is a rarity.
Cheryl and I are also now in full swing getting ready for the first events of the year like the Essex Masters and the Fitasc and Compak Grand Prix in Cyprus.
We have been busy doing two or three competitions a week and it is starting to pay off, with our scores pushing up into the 90s now. On a recent weekend we started off on Saturday with a 100-bird registered Compak at Westfield. There were very strong winds, which made things interesting to say the least!
Some already-quick crossers were accelerated to light speed by the strong gusts behind them. Our first layout had two tricky pairs: a fast driven midi combined with two wind-powered crossers. Cheryl straightened it and I was one point behind on 24. The next layout wasn’t to Compak rules, but was the same for everyone.
A big teal caught me out; the wind was bringing it back in to land some 20-30 yards out, so most were shooting it on the drop. I missed it twice, once by trying to shoot it on the way up and the second time by waiting for a drop that failed to come in because the wind calmed at just the wrong moment.
I missed two more on my last stand. Despite these setbacks I still ended up with a respectable 90, but Cheryl pipped me with a 91. That meant that I was cooking dinner! On the Sunday our first competition was at Forhill, which was a good shoot apart from a couple of breakdowns.
Cheryl ended up on 96 and I shot 93. We then went on to Grange Farm where we both shot poorly on a tough course. I managed to get one back here, beating Cheryl by three targets and getting a meal of my own in the bag. We managed to get booked in at Hornet and shot it on one of the first nice weather days of the year. It was the first time this year we didn’t need a coat to shoot in.
Hornet is a great little ground – the course setter Kevin did a brilliant job with the targets and we had a great squad to shoot with. There was a lot of technical stuff and some big birds in the middle that dented many a score card – including mine. Cheryl pipped me again here with 91.
I had managed a 90 after a couple of lapses of concentration. The next weekend we decided to spread our wings and try a couple of different shoots. First up was Meadowcroft. We both shot poorly and were plagued by no birds and breakdowns. I got a win against Cheryl, but with both of us shooting in the 80s it was a shoot to forget.
We then trekked an hour to Four Counties, which was really busy. We were asked to start at stand one and shoot in sequence, which would have worked if everyone else had done the same, but instead it took a long time to get round because most people were jumping about. It was a tricky shoot with lots to trip up unsuspecting shooters.
Cheryl shot an excellent 92 to come joint third, one ahead of Richard Faulds. I ended on 88, considering what I dropped I was happy with it.
Mike Bartlett is a familiar face on the Sporting circuit and the man behind Magic Bore gun-cleaning products. His partner Cheryl Hall is one of Britain’s top lady Sporting shots.