At the end of another big year for Richard Faulds, Benjamin Lycett meets him at Owls Lodge to talk shooting, kit and the good times
My interview with Richard Faulds begins with a leisurely drive down to the superb shooting ground Owls Lodge. As I drive through the gates, I am greeted with the sight of its inviting lodge, welcoming you to come in out of the autumnal winds.
Walking in and settling down with a warm drink, I can already see the subject of this interview. He’s not in the room, but the walls are adorned with imagery depicting favoured memories and successes, both individually and as a family.
The views from my seat showcase the adventures and joys to be found outside, witnessing shooters honing their skills with an array of stands and layouts. The focus this month, however, is on one half of the ‘Faulds duo’, Richard Faulds, legendary shooter and 2000 Olympic gold medallist. We pass the morning discussing his shooting career, his kit, new additions to the family, Owls Lodge and more.
Firstly, congratulations on the new addition to your family — and, of course, a new member of Team Faulds waiting to experience the joys of shooting when they’re older. It seems fitting to start with how you got into the sport.
“Thank you. I first started shooting when I was eight years old. Growing up on a farm, both my parents used to shoot, and it was a natural follow-on for me to start. Back then it was more game than clay shooting. Dad organised some lessons for me with a chap who conducted casual tuition, Tony Duffield — sadly Tony isn’t with us any more, but he gave me my first introductory lessons and I loved it. Everything went from there really. As I shot more, I got better and better and that started me off.
“I’d say my professional career began with the Junior British FITASC team when I was 13. At the time, the team was Carl Vickers, Alistair Evans and myself. Bear in mind the team was made up of under-21s and all these people in their early 20s were giants compared to me. It was fun and intimidating, but a superb start to FITASC.
“I also won the British Open C Class championship in the late 80s/early 90s when I was around 12. My name’s on the front of the trophy somewhere…”
Along with a successful and varied shooting career, we are also sitting in this fantastic lodge. Tell me more about the creation of Owls Lodge.
“Owls Lodge’s history begins with this site being our old family farm. We moved from Sussex in 1987 to Long Parish and my parents bought the arable farm here. In the early days when I shot Sporting, we had a manual trap on an embankment over a disused railway line and my dad used to sit on the embankment with a box of clays. I would be at the bottom of the bank and he would throw the clays, telling me when the box was empty.
When I started Double Trap in 1994 in a serious way, there was nowhere to really shoot it, so we got planning permission to create a layout here. Over the years, people wanted to shoot with me and have me teach them. We then added a Skeet range a couple of years later, then diversified into Sporting and landscaped the grounds.
“About 10 years ago, though, we went to town and finished it all off. We built the lodge, which has been here seven years now. This has been something that Tanya and myself have done and built from scratch. We love it and it’s our pride and joy – we’re very proud of it.
“In terms of the future, we are as big as we can get in terms of size, but we have a bit of everything here now to accommodate most people. We do lots of pay and play, tuition, charity and corporate events, so we cover all bases if we can.”
Memories and anecdotes
With such a diverse shooting history and a long list of accolades, what’s your most treasured memory?
“Without doubt my best memory would be winning the Olympic Gold in 2000 – anyone who knows me would agree with that. I’ve been lucky enough to collate 21 world titles from various disciplines and events – from Sporting to FITASC, each one of them has a special memory for one reason or another, but the Olympic gold tops them all.
“One anecdote that sticks in my memory was Melbourne, pre-Sydney Olympics, when I trained with Russell Mark from Atlanta, the defending champion. He invited us to train with him for a couple of days before the event. After shooting a few rounds he suggested we put money on one, so we put $20 on a round of Double Trap. About five or six rounds in, I looked down and there was $20 – he had already given up. I was beating him by a good few rounds and he thought he couldn’t catch me up.
“However, to get me back for that, he set us up on a sea fishing trip with his dad, Brian Mark, who had a boat that was his pride and joy. The day of the trip saw incredibly hard rain and he didn’t really want to go out, but there was a canopy on the boat so we still went to have a bit of fun. We met his dad and watched as he reversed the boat down the slipway. As he braked, though, the boat slid off the trailer, bouncing down the concrete and into the water.
“The trip included myself, Ian Coley and Peter Terry, who at the time was my sports psychologist. We all looked at one another, all asking if the boat was ok, but we were assured all was well, so we ventured out to sea. About 10 miles out, we began to fish – but we noticed the bottom of the boat beginning to fill with water, so naturally we said, ‘We need to go now.’
We were assured that all was fine – the pump would remove the water as it was only rain. This wasn’t the case – it was sea water and the pump ended up burning out. I put on a life jacket and we headed as fast as we could for shore. God knows how we made it but I’d say that was definitely one of the scarier memories of my shooting career.”
“My longest and most loyal sponsor has been Lyalvale Express. They have been fantastic over the years – 25 years, in fact. I hate to think how many cartridges I’ve shot over the years but they have been simply fantastic. British made, consistent and the only British cartridge to win an Olympic gold medal.
“In terms of my gun, I’ve been with Caesar Guerini since 2013. They are a simply fantastic gunmaker.
“Trap-wise we are looked after by Promatic and have been for the last four years. And my glasses are supplied by Pilla.”
“I shoot a Caesar Guerini. The brand are relatively new as they started in the late 90s. It’s a fantastic product and great value for money. The quality and look are fantastic and the handling is excellent. I personally have a custom stock on mine but it’s a nice gun straight out of the box.”
“For the last 12 years I’ve stuck to the Lyalvale Supreme Competition cartridges and I went though a spell of shooting 6½ at everything. That all started from the World FITASC in Prague in 2007.
“In the last three years, though, I’ve been shooting 8s. On a typical 100-bird Sporting, I will put 100 8s in the bag and two boxes of 6½s. Nine times out of ten, I still have the two boxes at the end. I think most of the time it’s just related to confidence.”
“When it comes to competing, 99 per cent of the time I like to use solid ear muffs – no electronics or gizmos. I like silence when I’m shooting.
“Sometimes, though, I will wear plugs and muffs. For instance, when you’re shooting at the Olympics with about 5,000 people sat right behind you, watching your every move, you really don’t want to be able to hear anything. Similarly, if you’re shooting for a World Championship with 200 people, you want focus and silence.”
“My glasses are from the Pilla range – they’re the X7s – and I’m just waiting for a set of the new progressive lenses, which I saw at the British Open. I don’t use a large range of colours, just a light purple or a dark lens. I like simplicity.”
Every shooter has a personal effect or token that brings them luck. What special charm can you not be without?
“Without doubt it would have to be Tanya – she’s been fantastic over the years. The support she has given me, the way she talks to me, knowing what to say and when, works. To be able to share a sport like we do, with your closest friend, partner, wife, makes it all the more enjoyable.”
You and Tanya have more or less become your own sporting brand. Can you tell me a little more about the dynamic?
“Tanya and I are always looking at ways to improve the business and encourage people to shoot. She’s great with ideas and a woman’s touch makes a great difference also. We both love it at Owls Lodge and to be able to share all of this – sport, business and everything – is a real bonus.”