The sweltering heat at the Beretta World Sporting didn’t prevent shooters from giving it their all, reports Don Brunt
The Beretta World Sporting is an event that has seen some stunning venues over the years, and after a one-year break it had returned to the beautiful Holywell estate near Swanmore in the Southampton area for the 2019 Championship.
Sean Ponting was setting the targets for the first time and was concerned to make sure he didn’t disappoint. Happily, he succeeded in delivering a steady round of targets that were easy enough to send most shooters home happy with their scores, yet tricky enough to make those at the top have to work hard to be competitive.
The long route march through the estate was gone, having been cut in half to create a truncated circular route that was warmly welcomed, especially in the oppressive heat of Saturday.
A healthy entry of just shy of 850 competitors saw shooters from every corner of the UK competing, and although the shoot has yet to once more crest 1000 entries, as it did in the final years at Meon Springs, its popularity amongst the Beretta faithful is unquestionable.
The more compact course made for a cosy feel to the shoot, most stands being separated by just a short walk of 40 to 50 yards or less. With the hosts requesting that only coloured clays be thrown amidst the trees, there was a predominance of black targets in the array of Laporte Traps.
A couple of presentations were what might be described as slightly ‘shade sensitive’ when it came to acquiring the targets, but in the conditions there was little that could be done and most coped well with picking them up.
Course highlights included a report pair of driven birds that caught many napping, and a long midi across the trees that needed a gap. One of the three rabbits was clearly in rude health as it motored along at a blistering pace. Meanwhile, over at ‘Lucky 13’ a battue and exocet fast crosser were the death knell for more than a few cards.
The event got under way on Friday and saw some excellent shooting. The general consensus was that the course was fair and – cliché though it may be – it definitely offered something for everyone.
The rest of Europe was baking under record temperatures, and the South of England wasn’t untouched by the heatwave; the temperature climbed into the 90s on Saturday, which made for some very unpleasant conditions.
The sticky, airless environment was never going to be conducive to massive scores and there was no doubt that the heat was playing a role as more than a few top names made surprising errors.
On Sunday morning, as the final day’s shooting got under way, the score to beat was 111, which had been posted by Junior James Bradley Day and A Class shot Trevor Bell. The chasing pack was breathing a sigh of relief, as fresh air blew in and the inferno-like heat of Saturday faded into memory.
Phil Gray made his intentions clear as he blitzed his way around the course, finishing on an impressive 114 to smash his way to the top of the leaderboard. Plenty tried to emulate his performance, but nobody could get close and he stayed there to take the win. Bell and Bradley Day finished second and third respectively after a shoot-off in front of the house. Phil was understandably very happy at the result.
“It was a good shoot, whether you were in AA or just a weekend club shooter there were targets to entertain and test you,” he said. “Concentration was key, along with a little bit of luck, which we all need from time to time as there was plenty there that could be easily missed. I was very happy to shoot stand 13 really well and in the end I think that was where the event was won and lost.
As a Beretta shooter it feels very special to win this event and it’s something I have wanted to do for a long time. Being an Eley shooter as well makes it doubly satisfying and I have no hesitation recommending their Titanium fibre cartridges, which I used here for the first time. The event ran really smoothly, with no breakdowns, and the targets were good. Thank you to GMK for continuing to put on a great event year on year.”
Another successful year for the Beretta World then. As it approaches 30 years of top quality championships, 2020 will undoubtedly continue that tradition thanks to the efforts of GMK, the course setting team and the sponsors such as Laporte and Eley Hawk amongst others, all of them contributing so much towards making the event special.
For results visit www.berettaworld.co.uk