Back with a bang

Mike Bartlett’s getting back in the swing of things, but with blustery conditions the course of clay birds never did run smooth.

With the game season in its last week we are now back to two shoots on a Sunday.

We both like Forhill, which is a small club shoot in the Midlands. This time of year, if it isn’t too wet, it’s a great place to go first. Cheryl shot High Gun with a 90. Meanwhile I struggled on two stands, messing up my timing, using the wrong technique and eventually ending up on a poor 81.

Next was Grange Farm, which I favour because of director Adam Curtis’s encouragement of Junior shooters, whom he lets shoot for free. This includes my son Billy, so I take advantage of the policy by going to Grange Farm to give him some tuition with his double-barrelled 28 bore. All the refs know him and are great with him, giving him lots of encouragement and birds on report where required.

The shoot at Grange Farm was frustrating for both of us. My rustiness prevented me from shooting a decent score, with over half of my misses made on the last pairs. I ended up on 85 but it should have been much better. Cheryl found it even tougher, shooting 82. This was our first double up of the year and only our first two completions since our break, so it could have been a lot worse.

On the following weekend we attended a small beaters’ day in horrible conditions and stayed with friends, so it was a fortnight later that we next made a shoot. That weekend we repeated our Forhill and Grange Farm itinerary. There were strong, gusty winds right from the start, which only increased throughout the day.

Once again the first shoot was at Forhill, where John Timmins had set the course. The wind was blowing from a different direction to what had been forecast, which made one stand unshootable for us where a sim pair of orange going-away targets ran away from the stand over a hedge. Cheryl and I tried both ways round between us but could only manage to hit one target before the other dived into the hedge.

Elsewhere John had compensated for the unexpected wind by bringing most of the targets in, which made for an easier shoot than usual. Cheryl shot a good 92 and I managed a 90 but it wasn’t good enough to win. Meanwhile, Billy shot a 50-bird course and managed his best score, hitting over 30 of them. Not bad for an 8 year old.

Then it was off to Grange Farm, where it seemed that the weather had kept people away. It was very quiet. There didn’t seem to have been as much consideration made for the wind when setting the targets here, and many clays on the first few stands would stall and drift backwards in the strong afternoon winds.

A sim pair of low incomers also proved tricky, with the wind pushing the second target into the grass before I could get a shot off at it on two occasions.

There are some big banks around the one side of the shoot and it was a shame that there wasn’t more use made of these to shelter some of the targets. It was no surprise that all of the top scores were shot in the morning in the less windy conditions, but it was nice to be out pulling the trigger again. Next week sees the arrival of my made to measure Z-Gun; I can’t wait to start using it.

I will then have a demonstration gun with a right-handed try-stock that I can set up to fit anyone who’s interested in trying a Zoli.


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.

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