This year’s English Sporting Home International at Mill Hill Gun Club, Ireland, was the 45th match between the home countries.
On arrival at the ground you could instantly see how much effort had been made to make sure the weekend was going to be an outstanding success – one to remember for a very long time.
Thursday was the first day of the event with practice stands set up for everyone to familiarise themselves and to unwind from the journey.
Friday consisted of 100 targets over 12 stands. Mill Hill had put up a High Gun prize of 250 Euros, which was won by England’s new cap Martin Myers, who shot a fantastic 88ex-100. Stuart Clarke won AA with 85ex-100 and Chris Broomfield and Ed Solomons came second and third on 83ex-100.
Saturday started quite breezy with the threat of rain and some blustery showers. Course setter, Maurice Cavanagh, had set a perfect course, each stand had what most would call a ‘steady’ target and the second target of the pair was going to be a real test – at least there was a chance to have two shots at the first target if needed.
As the shooting commenced the wind speed increased and progressed throughout the day having a detrimental effect on the targets. The scores after lunch reflected this and were down by three or four from the morning session.
Overall High Gun was English shooter Chris Broomfield who shot 83ex-100 over the tricky wind-swept course.
A shoot-off was needed to decide the Runner-Up position between Arnie Palmer and Ed Solomons of England and Colin Dunne and Peter Hanifin from Ireland, who had all shot 81. A big crowd congregated around the shoot-off stands to witness what proved to be a tense and exciting match.
Ed came out on top with 24ex-30 to finish Runner-Up ahead of Colin Dunne, who shot 21ex-30 to finish third.
In the teams England continued last year’s dominant streak and won the Senior, Veteran and the Juniors events. The Ladies’ team came a very creditable second with new caps Rosie Brumby and Laura Meynell, whose score was enough to secure her High Gun in the Ladies.
I am sure that Laura along with Sara Chambers and Rosie will be a force to be reckoned with in the years to come.
Another new cap, Junior shooter Ryan Sperling, had a fantastic day when he landed himself a whopping four trophies.
Ryan shot 79 to take Junior High Gun and England Junior High Gun, and his score was also enough to give him the trophy for the Highest Junior, Vet or Lady. On top of that there was a new cup this year awarded to the highest scoring new cap, Ryan shot 79 to tie with Martin Myers in new cap cup and Ryan won it on count back – not bad for his first England experience.
Veteran shooter Fred Townsend was the overall High Gun in his class.
The shooting was not finished there. Sunday saw a further shoot, aptly named the ‘The Irish Classic’ and it turned out to be just that as they moved the stands into the woods to make a varied and challenging 120-target course.
Despite continued strong wind England captain, Chris Childerhouse, made quite an effect on the targets as he shot 106ex-120 to take the High Gun prize. Afterwards he said: “I would have loved to have shot this course on a windless day!”.
Sara Chambers shot an excellent 91 to claim the Ladies prize and Philip Simpson managed to beat his England team mate Brian Dunbavin by five clays to take the Veterans prize!
It appears the ICPSA and Mill Hill have raised the bar this year to demonstrate how an International shooting weekend should be – let’s hope next year will be equally as good in Wales.
This was my first time as England manager for the Home Internationals and I would like to thank all the team members for their professionalism and for keeping to the task of breaking clays despite the windy conditions. I would also like to thank former team manager Tony Heeks and his wife Linda for giving me all the help and advice to help me settle into the manager’s position.