Best of British

The country’s top Skeet and Trap shooters gathered for the British Shooting Grand Final 2019. Anita North reports

Charlotte Hollands battles the tricky conditions in the women’s Trap final

The last weekend of September saw Olympic Trap and Skeet shooters gather at Fauxdegla Shooting Ground for this year’s British Shooting Shotgun Series Grand Final. Fauxdegla is set just outside Wrexham in North Wales, and has four Olympic Trap layouts and two Olympic Skeet layouts among its facilities.

It is run by Mike and Debbie Faux and their team. Mike is a keen Trap shooter and his enthusiasm for shooting and for competitions shows in his efforts to ensure things run as smoothly as possible.

The Grand Final

This competition is the culmination of British Shooting’s Shotgun Series, which forms the domestic competitions used as a selection for British teams for Olympic Trap and Olympic Skeet.

Shooters qualify for the Grand Final based on their ranking at the end of the series, where they earn points based on their finishing position. They can also use one substitute competition from a list published by British Shooting.

The Final is contested over the ISSF format of 125 targets in qualification shot over two days, with the top six shooters in senior men, senior women and junior men categories taking part in a final to decide the medal winners and top six placing.

With smaller numbers in the field of competitors for junior women in both Olympic Skeet and Olympic Trap as well as Para Trap, there were no finals for these three categories, and medals were decided at 125 targets.

Matt Coward-Holley (centre) triumphed in the men’s Trap competition

Gusty wet weather on day one meant shooters had challenging conditions to contend with, which reflected in the range of scores on the board. In Olympic Trap, the end of the day saw Aaron Heading lead the field in OT with an impressive 75 ex-75. In Olympic Skeet, the field was led by junior shooter Mitchell Brooker-Smith on 73.

After a promising start on day two, the weather soon changed and rain, mist and squalls provided more challenging shooting conditions. Shooters battled on through whatever weather they were faced with for places in the finals. The weather worsened before the finals and the finalists had gusty rain to add to the challenge.

Finals – Olympic Trap

In the men’s competition Aaron Heading finished top of qualification on 122 with Matt Coward-Holley, Mike Wixey, Steve Scott, Nathan Hales and David Kirk joining him in the final. At the first elimination it was Steve Scott who finished in sixth place. Next, Nathan Hales bowed out, followed by David Kirk. Mike Wixey finished in bronze.

It was then down to the quota place winning World Champion and European Silver medalists to contest for gold. Matt went into the remaining ten targets with a one clay lead ahead of Aaron. Matt maintained form and finished one ahead of Aaron to take the gold medal on 43 to Aaron’s 42.

In the women’s competition, Sarah Wixey and Charlotte Hollands led the field with Caroline Povey, Kirsty Barr, Jessica Hayward and Zara Dunford joining the final. Jess is in her last year as a junior, but competition rules at the Grand Final meant she could opt out of the juniors and into the senior competition. 

Sarah struggled to maintain form in the final and was first to be eliminated to finish in sixth place. Next out was Zara Dunford followed by Jessica. Caroline finished in bronze medal position and that left Charlotte and Kirsty who were level on 31 at the 40-targets stage. At the end of the last 10 targets, gold went to Kirsty who finished one target ahead of Charlotte.

In the junior men’s competition, it was Tom Betts who led the field with a score of 108. He was joined in the final by Dan Campey, Lewis Owen, Michael Bovingdon, Ewen Ross and Ben Killian. 

Ben was the first to be eliminated followed by Lewis and then Ewen. Dan finished in bronze medal position. Tom went into the last ten targets two behind the experienced junior Michael. Michael increased his lead over Tom to take the gold medal with Tom taking silver.

In the Junior women, the medals went to Maddie Purser, Lucy Hall and Elise Dixon. In Para Trap, Reg Toms took gold with Michael Drever and Tori Clinch joining him.

Finals – Olympic Skeet

In the men’s competition, Ben Llewellin was number one with a score of 119. Dominic Cooper, Jack Fairclough, Freddie Killander, Mike Gilligan and Clayton Harris joined him in the final. Jack finished in sixth place with Clayton Harris next to be eliminated and then Freddie next to finish in fourth place.

Mike finished in bronze medal position. This left the race for gold between Ben and Dominic. In the last stage of the final solid shooting from Dominic saw him take gold, three targets ahead of Ben.

Amber Hill (centre) took gold in the women’s Skeet

The women’s competition was dominated by Amber Hill, who finished qualification on 118 to lead the field. Lara Dale, Alexandra Skeggs, Miao Cruikshank, Nicki Wakeford and Kate Brickell joined her in the final.

The order remained unchanged at the end of the final, Kate finishing sixth, Nicki fifth and Miao fourth. Alexandra took the bronze medal, and Lara Dale silver, two targets behind Amber who won gold.

In the junior men’s competition, Mitchell Brooker-Smith led the field with an impressive 121 to be number one in the final. He was joined by Oliver Harrison, David McNeil, Arran Eccleston, Andrew Payne and Denzil Grose.

Denzil was first to be eliminated to take sixth place, followed by Andrew and then Oliver. This left the medals to be contested. Arran finished in bronze medal position, while Mitchell finished the final with a solid performance to take gold two targets ahead of David.

In the junior women’s competition, as in OT, there was no final. At the end of qualification the medals went to Maddie Boyd, Annabel Lane and Kirstin Vogel. 

Well done to everyone who qualified for the Grand Final and congratulations to all the medalists. Don’t forget to get behind our teams! The race to Tokyo will continue into next year. Meantime, competitions continue over the autumn and winter plus there is training to be done. 

The World Cup Final takes place in October, and British shooters have qualified for that. Go GB! 

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