Looking ahead to clay shooting in 2021

Jasper Fellows looks ahead to some of the top clay shooting events and competitions of 2021.

The IOC chairman visits the stadium where the Tokyo Olympics are due to be held this year

It’s fair to say 2020 was a bit of a wash out. Despite our best intentions many competitions, from the mighty Olympic games to CPSA registered shoots, were cast aside as the world dealt with more pressing issues. 

Fortunately, many events were postponed rather than cancelled. That means 2021 is now packed to the brim with top level competitions and competitors itching to climb back onto the podium.

Of course, uncertainty still looms large and while we have tried to gather accurate information on some of the best events and competitions to look forward to throughout the rest of 2021, it’s always worth double checking with event organisers before heading out this year.

Olympic Trap and Skeet

Checking with the organisers before leaving home is particularly important if you intend on taking part in one of the bumper crop of international events planned for this Olympic year.

Don’t forget, many countries have now changed their entry requirements, so make sure you keep an eye on both the British Foreign Office advice and advice from the foreign office of the country you intend to visit. Trust me you don’t want to land in a foreign country only to be sent home again.

Matt Coward-Holley (R) won bronze in the first and only World Cup of 2020

With that being said, there’s plenty to look forward to and if the results from the competitions that did take place last year were anything to go by, we should be expecting British Olympic Trap and Olympic Skeet shooters to dominate across the globe once again.

By the end of February, we’ll be seeing the first event of the ISSF World Cup series, as shooters head out to Cairo, Egypt on the 26 February. Last year Matthew Coward-Holley found his way into third place during the first event, which also happened to be the only event able to take place, giving him the quickest ever podium finish in an ISSF World Cup. 

After Cairo, the ISSF World Cup shooters will be heading on to New Delhi, India, on the 18 March. This India event will be used to help British Shooting decide who should receive the remaining quota places for the Olympics later in the year, so will no doubt be an extremely competitive event for any Brits attending.

Once the battle for quota places has ended, it’s over to Changwon, South Korea on the 16 April then Lonato, Italy on 5 May before finally to Baku, Azerbaijan, for their last chance to pick up points in the final event on 22 June. 

While the adults only had one World Cup event last year, the Juniors fared even worse, as all of their events were cancelled. Hopefully a year out has only strengthened their resolve as the Junior events are back on this year, starting on 3 July in Suhl, Germany, before heading over to Almaty, Kazakhstan, for the Junior World Cup final at the end of August. 

The ISSF World Cup series usually marks a high point in the year for international OT and OS competition. This year they’re set to be overshadowed by the colossi that are the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Postponed from last year, the Olympic Flame is set to ignite on 23 July to mark the grand opening of Tokyo 2020, and yes that is still the name, with the event running until 8 August. Just over two weeks later The Paralympics Games will open, running from 24 August until 5 September. 

At the time of writing, British Shooting is still in the process of filling Team GBR quota places. There are already a number of extremely strong Olympic shooters who have passed the Minimum Consideration Standard criteria for selection including Rio 2016 bronze medallist and Trap superstar Ed Ling and his wife Abbey. If the stars align, and both Lings end up on the podium you can be sure there won’t be a dry eye, or glass, in all of Somerset. 

FITASC

Away from the Olympic disciplines, FITASC appears to be back to its usual pace, with a packed calendar for 2021, kicking off with the African Championship in Pretoria, South African from 16 March. The famed FITASC Grand Prix series will begin on the 31 March with the Cyprus Grand Prix. 

The FITASC Sporting and Sportrap Grands Prix will see shooters hopping across the globe hunting for silverware. While English Sporting is generally the preferred discipline here in the UK, there are still plenty of top-notch British shooters who will be looking to perform well in the FITASC leagues.

After some truly spectacular appearances from both Sam Green and Mark Winser over the past few years, we’re sure to see them both shoot well across the globe and hopefully claim some medals for the Brits in this decidedly French competition. 

English Sporting and Sportrap

While the Olympics may take the crown for the greatest Trap and Skeet event of the year, it’s the English and British Opens that

grab the attention in English Sporting – plus right up there with them, our very own Clay Shooting Classic, acknowledged as one of the ‘majors’ in the Sporting calendar where the top shots battle for the honours. 

Orston Shooting Ground will once again be playing host to this English Sporting and Sportrap festival from the 26-30 May. Shooters who registered for last year’s cancelled competition will have their entries automatically carried through to this year’s event, with two free pool shoot entries added to help make up for the tears surely shed when the 2020 Classic failed to materialise. 

The British Open Sporting was able to go ahead in 2020; the CPSA have yet to announce details of the 2021 event

Aside from the cancellation of the Classic, one of the most disappointing losses of last year was the 2020 World English Sporting and Sportrap Championship.

As the event alternates between the United States and the UK every year, there was some fear that we wouldn’t be able to witness the best English Sporting shooters battling it out on home soil until 2022. 

Thankfully, the National Sporting Clays Association (The CPSA’s American cousin) agreed to a postponement rather than a cancellation, allowing EJ Churchill to host the event this year from the 5 to the 11 July at its beautiful West Wycombe Estate.

The 2019 event was dominated by Americans, with Texan Cory Kruse taking the English Sporting title. Here’s hoping a return to English soil will see more titles going to the Brits this year.

Shows and Events

Abbey Ling and husband Ed have passed the criteria for Olympic selection

While country fairs and shooting shows are always a bit of fun for the visiting public, especially if they have a clay line, it’s easy to forget just how vital they are to the country sport and outdoor economy – as many small firms, from garment makers to engravers, make a significant portion of their income from these events. Thankfully, many of the top shows are back on again this year, though of course with a few changes.

The first major trade show of the year will be The Great British Shooting Show, with doors opening on 23 April for the three-day event. The organisers have been working hard to make sure that everything is in place for a safe and secure show, even going as far as to change from their usual venue, Birmingham’s NEC, to Peterborough’s East of England Arena and Events Centre to ensure they can adhere to the government’s stringent Coronavirus guidelines. 

Clay Shooting Magazine will be at the event, along with our Future Field Sports partners, so if you are making the trip out to Peterborough why not pop along to our stand for a chat?

The Northern Shooting Show is back for 2021, running from 8-9 May at the Yorkshire Event Centre in Harrogate. A relative newbie on the block, the Northern Shooting Show has grown into one of the biggest shows of its kind in the UK and features a fantastic clay line with a manufacturers demo area and the CPSA running have-a-go sessions.

The Northern Shooting Show is back on in May

One of the most shocking cancellations last year was The Game Fair. This stalwart of the industry has weathered a number of storms over the years and is set to return to form from 23-25 July at Ragley Hall in Warwickshire.

Touted as the world’s largest countryside show, The Game Fair always has an impressive array of gunmakers and clay orientated stands on offer. The Game Fair Challenge and Champion of Champions will be making a return, with the CPSA remaining positive and hoping to make a return to all of the events they were forced to forgo last year.

Normally, by March we would be reporting on the winners of the coveted CPSA Awards. This year, however, the association has decided to postpone
the event until October, citing a limited clay shooting season in 2020, along with health concerns as its reasons for postponement. This delay gives all CPSA members more time to impress their fellow shooters and score some more points ahead of the award ceremony. 

But wait, there’s more!

While the main media focus of 2021’s shooting calendar will undoubtedly be the Olympic Games, it is here, at home, that we will see the majority of the competitive action.

With the British and English Opens, ground centric events like the Essex Masters and the Churchill Cup, The Schools Challenge and a huge array of sponsored events to look forward to 2021, is set to be a busy year for any competitive shot.

We are particularly looking forward to watching some of the UK’s fine young shots continue their rise through the rankings both home and abroad. No doubt hometown talent Lucy Hall will be continuing to see off competition both young and old at East Yorks and across the globe.

We’re looking forward to the Game Fair returning to Ragley Hall in July

Another Trap youngster, Theo Ling will also be looking to make an impression this year, particularly if his brother and sister-in-law both make their way out to Tokyo. 2019’s CPSA Emerging Shooter of the Year Ami Hedgecock is worth keeping an eye on too, as she continues her Compak journey and works towards her dream of representing GB.

Of the more experienced shooters, Sam Green will continue to be one to watch, as he carries on emulating his hero, George Digweed, by attempting to take every championship title he can at events across the globe.

Of course, we are also eagerly awaiting British Shooting’s final decision
on who will be heading off to Japan, as no doubt they will be some of the country’s finest shots and we wish them all the greatest success.

Continued uncertainty

Thanks to the double dose of chaos caused by both Brexit and Covid-19, there’s still a great deal of uncertainty both in the UK and globally when it comes to hosting events.

Many organisations are erring on the side of caution, avoiding solid plans or dates for fear of changes yet to come. GMK, for example, is very keen to host both the Benelli SP’Auto and Beretta World Sporting Championships, but, at the time of writing, was unable to offer any solid dates. 

We’ve already seen the ICTSF DTL World Championships moved from 2020 to 2021 and now into 2022. Unfortunately, we will probably be seeing more events follow this path. While it may be frustrating for us to see these competitions moved, postponed or cancelled, one cannot blame the organisers. 

Everyone we’ve spoken to, from heads of industry to small ground owners, has been desperate to get their competitions and events back on track in the safest, most responsible way possible.

We, as clay shooters and gun owners, pride ourselves on adhering to exceptional safety standards and we should only expect the same of those running our competitions.

That being said, we have a hell of a lot to look forward to, with medals to be claimed for the glory of queen and country, or for bragging rights in the clubhouse, trade shows and award ceremonies to attend and plenty of clay breaking action to be enjoyed over the rest of this delayed Olympic year. 

No matter what the rest of 2021 has in store for us all, there’s one thing that you can be sure of – Clay Shooting Magazine will be here to bring you enough news, reviews and interviews to keep you entertained and informed for the rest of the year and beyond.


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