After winning one of Clay Shooting magazine’s highest honours – the Nation’s Favourite Shooting Ground – it seems only right that the Classic Sporting and Classic Sportrap will take place at Southdown Gun Club and Shooting School this year on 1-4 June.
Southdown secured an overwhelming victory to claim the NFSG title after readers voted to create a dramatic margin for the Sussex-based school, and now, it will open its doors to entrants of the best independent clay shooting competition in Europe.
Since the competition started in 1995 it has grown to be the most loved event in the calendar, and the team at Southdown is fully aware of its importance to British and international shooters. It once hosted the Classic Sporting in 2008, but with new owners, course setters and a completely new ethos, the competition is set for a revamp in 2017.
Ground owner Shaun Miller told us how the ground had improved since he took over in 2010. “When I took up shooting again in 1999, I became a member and used to shoot a couple of times a week. Over time, Southdown seemed to be in decline and we used to joke about what we would do if we owned the ground. So when the opportunity arose in 2010, I jumped at the chance and put a plan in place to make Southdown a shooting facility that would suit everybody. Getting Bob Clarke on board was a deciding factor and he really has brought exciting, varied layouts to the club that get the best out of the ground.”
Bob has previously set courses for the Beretta World Sporting and other top flight competitions, and his experience has been invaluable to the rejuvenation of Southdown. He said: “The success of an event is all about balance, so I will be working hard to make sure that the Classic provides two fair courses that will be entertaining and challenging across the classes. The Clay Shooting Classic has always set the standard for Sporting competitions and I am really excited to have the opportunity to build the courses. I am up for the challenge and already have some great ideas for some new stands and interesting targets.”
While there are Skeet and Trap layouts near the main clubhouse, and several major areas for Sporting along the lane, the Classic Sporting course will make use of one rarely used gem in competitions: The Valley. This greenfield site will boast part of the course, and provide a real virgin-turf territory for English Sporting shooters. Bob said: “Rest assured, I will provide a truly Classic layout with new shooting positions to change the perception of the ground. I haven’t used the Valley layout much in the last few years, so setting a Sporting course there will provide some fantastic new positions to shoot from. And the plan is to put the Sportrap around the clubhouse – you won’t have to walk far .”
Making the Classic more available
Beyond the location, the Clay Shooting Classic is changing the days on which the competition will run. While it traditionally took place on Wednesday to Saturday, this year the event will open up for a morning rotation on Sunday. This decision has been made to ensure maximum availability to shooters who struggle to get time off during the week.
Most people prefer to shoot on Saturdays and Sundays, and previously limiting the event to just one day on the weekend meant fewer people got to take part in the best competition in Europe. But this change opens up the entry to more numbers and greater competition.
This is just part of making Classic a more inclusive event, and Shaun Miller hopes to set a new high bar for the competition: “The ground has a massive competition-hosting history over the last 30 years, including world championships, so my aim is to have all the major competitions back at the ground in my tenure, and make them the very best they can be.”
There are new sponsors for the Classic in 2017, all of which will be revealed in the March issue, along with the prize breakdown – but you can be assured of a massive prize fund and fantastic shooting opportunities on 1-4 June at Southdown this year. Fill out the form across to book your place today.
More shooting opportunities
Classic Sporting: The main event will split 150 clays over two courses. The Red and Blue layouts will each comprise 75 targets over 12 stands that will be shootable by all, so the top shots can battle for position with high scores, and those in the lower classifications can shoot to the best of their ability.
This year’s Classic Sporting will remain at the great value price of £85, and it will begin in the traditional manner, by employing a ‘shotgun start’ for everybody to begin with each stand full at 9.30am. The second rotation will begin at 11.30am so shooters can finish at the same time. Transport will be provided to those starting on the stands furthest away from the clubhouse.
On Sunday, the start time will be 9am and there will be no second rotation in order for any shoot-offs and prize-giving ceremonies to be conducted in a timely manner – so those who have travelled a long distance can get away in plenty of time for a good journey home.
Classic Sportrap: The Classic Sportrap is a select event that doesn’t run annually, but it still boasts one of the most sought-after trophies in the discipline. This year, shooters can take on 100 targets on top of the 150 Sporting birds each day.
The top prize was housed securely in Paul Simpson’s house for nearly a decade until 2015, when Martin Myers collected the trophy, but this year he will get a chance to win it back, but has to overcome some tough competitors to do so.
Entry to the Classic Sportrap will be just £39 – an affordable competition that should entice a large entry. There will be cash prizes for the top shots and sponsored prizes in the classes and categories.
Pool shoots: Trap and Skeet areas will provide plenty of opportunities for pool shoots at Southdown, and there will be support from sponsors in these areas. So whether you are looking to just warm up your barrels or get competitive in smaller events, there will be plenty of chances to win outside of the main events.
Services Classic: As supporters of the forces and services for many years, Clay Shooting magazine has ensured that members of the Army, Navy, RAF, Police, Ambulance, Prison and Fire Services are given the opportunity to shoot the Classic Sporting course at a discounted rate for their own prizes – as well as taking home bragging rights for the year between their branches and regiments.
How to enter
Entries are open now, and you can fill out the entry form on the next page and send it to Southdown Gun Club & Shooting School. The main event remains just £85 – fantastic value while so many other competitions are increasing their entry fees, and the Sportrap will cost £39. Pool shoot prices will be announced closer to the day, and the discounted entry for the Services Classic is just £49, but this precludes those shooters from entering the main competition.
If you don’t want to tear the entry form out of your magazine, you can download a copy of the entry form by clicking here. The school will also accept entries over the phone. To do this, call 01903 877555.