In case you missed any of our coverage, here is the final round-up of the British Schools and Young Shots Championship.
Josh Bennion shot a perfect 50-straight to lift the High Gun trophy at Clay Shooting’s prestigious British Schools & Young Shots Championship at the Atkin Grant & Lang Shooting Ground in Hertfordshire on 4 May – beating some of the UK’s best young shots including last year’s High Gun, Alfie Tibbles.
The BSYS is widely regarded as ‘the big one’ for under-18s, and this year it attracted more than 200 young shots with teams travelling from far and wide, including the stalwarts from Strathallan in Scotland. It’s the highlight of the school shooting year, with teams and individuals from all over the country competing.
This year the event received a major boost with Webley & Scott and Armsan lending prize sponsorship with their O/U and semi-automatic shotguns, on top of sponsorship from BASC, Seeland, Atkin Grant & Lang and Clay Shooting magazine.
John Bright, CEO of Webley and Armsan’s UK distributor, Highland Outdoors, said “We’re really pleased to support the British Schools & Young Shots competition and are very impressed by the enthusiasm and skill of these young people. The future of British shooting looks very positive.”
There were some also some fabulous category prizes, including a massive £500 for the winning under-14 team, donated by BASC.
Bloxham’s A team were victorious on the Red course, winning an Armsan 6125 semi-auto with a decisive total score of 212, ahead of Millfield A2 on 195 in 2nd and Warwick A 3rd with 185. Warwick took the Old Pupils category.
Charlie Soanes, second placed overall, won the Parent & Child category shooting with his father Philip. Their score of 93 was three targets ahead of Will and Tim Fenner’s 90.
- High Gun
1st Josh Bennion – 50
2nd Charlie Soanes – 49
3rd Brody Woollard – 48
1st Bloxham A – 212
2nd Millfield A2 – 195
3rd Warwick A – 185
- Old Pupils Team
1st Warwick – 129
2nd Kimbolton – 120
3rd Kings High – 90
- Parent & Child Team
1st Charlie & Philip Soanes – 93
2nd Will & Tim Fenner – 90
3rd Sam & Derek Beales – 88
Josh collected a terrific haul of sponsored prizes, including a Webley 900X 20-bore over-and-under, a year’s BASC membership, a year’s membership at Atkin Grant & Lang, a Seeland clothing voucher and a year’s subscription to Clay Shooting.
He was delighted with his win, which follows a tremendous start to the clay season for the 18-year-old from Stoke-on-Trent, who is coached by Nick Hendrick. He also won the English Open Fitasc Sporting Junior title at the end of March and the UK Junior title at Garlands in April.
That placed him top of the GB Junior rankings, winning him his first international Fitasc cap – and he was looking forward to travelling to Hungary to compete in the European Fitasc Championship in mid-May.
As in previous years, the 2019 championships consisted of three separate courses of varying difficulty: Red, Blue and the BASC course – the latter renamed from previous years’ Black course.
The Red and Blue courses each consisted of 50 targets shot over seven stands, and the BASC course for under-14s was 32 targets shot over four stands. Ten guns were available to be won across the individual and team categories on the three courses, which included Ladies, Cadets, Parent & Child and Old Pupils competitions.
Josh shot his 50-straight on the testing Red course, set by Charlie Stewart-Wood and his team. The day was bright and sunny, broken by sudden sharp hail showers and a stiff breeze that added to the challenge.
Will Fenner took an early lead with 47 ex-50, only to be overtaken by Brody Woollard with 48. Brody’s 48 topped the board for some time until Josh posted his 50. It was an unbeatable score, but with some excellent young shots still out there it could still be equalled.
In the end Charlie Soanes came closest – but he had blown his chances right at the start, missing his very first target. He hit everything else for a score of 49, taking second place ahead of Brody who finished a creditable third.
Bloxham School dominated the Blue course, with the top three individual places going to Bloxham shooters. High gun was Tom Owen with an impressive 46 ex-50, which won him a 20-bore 900X over-and-under from sponsors Webley.
Close behind was his Bloxham team-mate Ed Ellis on 44, and third place went to another Bloxham pupil, George Sawbridge. Not surprisingly with scores like that, Bloxham’s B1 and B2 teams took first and second place in the teams category by a considerable margin, pushing Cheltenham’s B team into third place.
- High Gun
1st Tom Owen – 46
2nd Ed Ellis – 44
3rd George Sawbridge – 43
1st Ami Hedgecock – 40
2nd Freja Ostland – 39
3rd Ellen Macdonald – 38
Holly Bryant – 38
1st L Gidding – 38
2nd H Lazell – 34
3rd O Baker – 32
1st Bloxham B1 – 204
2nd Bloxham B2 – 183
3rd Cheltenham B – 169
- Ladies Team
1st Cokethorpe – 105
2nd Kings High 1 – 100
3rd Kings High 2 – 99
- Parent & Child Team
1st Sophie & Jeremy Herrman – 79
2nd Tom & E Oliver – 78
3rd H & MR Craig – 58
Ami Hedgecock took High Gun in the Ladies category, while Cokethorpe took the Ladies team prize ahead of Kings High first and second teams, who took second and third place respectively.
Charlie Stewart-Wood was delighted with this year’s event. “With the staggered start times the courses have been busy all day, and everything has run smoothly,” he said, adding “we’ve been really impressed with the young shots’ attention to safety as well as the standard of shooting. Their gun handling and general behaviour has been exemplary.”
He was particularly impressed with Josh’s winning 50-straight. “We try to strike the right balance with the targets on each course – we have to separate the top shots, but we don’t want to discourage people by beating them up,” he explains. “But it’s always an achievement to straight any course, just with the mental pressure. They’re all easy to miss!”
He also commented that Atkin Grant & Lang was firing on all cylinders this season, having already held a CPSA Premier League shoot and the Lyalvale Express Masters, with 450 entries, ahead of the BSYS Championship. The venue provided a lovely setting, with stands set along woodland paths flanked by bluebells.
Back in the clubhouse, the team entered the scores on the CPSA computer system, providing a constantly updated leader board on a TV screen that was followed avidly throughout the day. The organisation was slick and efficient, with everything running to time and teams getting away by 5pm after the prizegiving was finished.
Clay Shooting editor James Marchington, who presented the prizes, commented “I enjoyed the day immensely. It’s heartening to see the standard of young people entering our sport, some of who will undoubtedly become the big names in years to come.
“Atkin Grant & Lang did the event proud, setting up and running a superb shoot, and I am grateful to the sponsors who put their money where their mouth is and supported the next generation with some great prizes. Roll on next year!”