Mike Bartlett shoots up and down the country, and tells it like it is about the targets.
The first shoot we had this month was the England Fitasc Selection shoot at Eriswell Lodge. Sadly the targets were more Compak than Fitasc and the shoot was really disappointing.
The layouts were very confined and one of the best areas on the ground wasn’t used. Three of the layouts had the hoops all in a line and only a few meters apart, which isn’t the norm for Fitasc.
One layout had a small platform where there wasn’t enough room for everyone to view the targets and nothing was more than 5 or 6 feet above the ground on this layout.
Cheryl was runner up in the Ladies. It was several people’s first experience of Fitasc on our squad and by the end some of the newbies were commenting that they wouldn’t be trying it again soon due to the cost and the quality of targets.
The following weekend was an England Sporting selection shoot at Kegworth. We got there early, planning on combining it with another shoot on the way home.
Unfortunately we suffered a huge number of no birds. This really isn’t on, especially at a big selection shoot and when you are paying a premium to shoot it!
On the Sunday we ventured out to a small club shoot in the next village that we can see from our house. We tried to go incognito by not wearing anything branded, and it worked for a short time. We joined and paid for a round of DTL and skeet each.
We were waiting for the round to start and a very kind older gentleman came up to us and said “we are a very friendly bunch here and if we can see where you are going wrong we will put you right”. Then a young lad doing his D of E rendered me speechless, much to Cheryl’s amusement, by asking whether it was the first club we had ever been to or were we members somewhere before.
In the end Cheryl answered him and said that we had just moved into the area – thankfully. In the end our anonymity was short lived; Cheryl was recognised by one of the members and after that we had an audience for the rest of our shooting.
The Essex masters was next and although Cheryl won the shoot for a second time we were disappointed with the targets. The shoot always runs like clockwork and the organisation is second to none but one course had 10 birds going away and three incomers and the other had seven going away and four incoming.
This year the railway wasn’t used and the shoot was really confined and restricted, with no real distance between stands. There was loads of sim pairs and most targets were really close, creating an experience reminiscent of Skeet or DTL rather than Sporting.
It was a shoot where you were afraid to miss rather than one where you felt you were building a score, and the results reflected that with loads of sky high scores. The price had also increased £5 from last year but we felt the quality of targets had definitely dropped.
For something a little different, which made a nice change, Longridge put on a Super Sporting shoot. For those that haven’t heard of this discipline or don’t know what it is, it is 10 stands of 10 birds each, with each stand using three traps.
First you shoot each possible pair in a cycle, with the second target on report. Then you get two simultaneous pairs. It’s a really fun discipline. The targets often resemble Fitasc targets, ranging from some really big birds to some close stuff that will test your reactions.
It was a tough shoot, which was reflected in the scores, but I managed a joint High Gun with an 89 and Cheryl came in just a few behind. If you haven’t tried Super Sporting before it’s well worth giving it a go.
Next up we had another registered shoot at College Farm the day before the Compak UK Championships weekend. This was another excellent shoot with a good variety of targets.
There were more going -away birds than usual, but there were plenty of other targets with tricky angles and some good long birds too. Cheryl shot an 86 and was third overall and I shot an 85 for fifth. The High gun score was 89, which goes to show how tough the shoot was.
The UK Championships for Compak was next at Barbury and this year Barbury set the targets and it was a much better affair. There were a couple of eyesight tests, as much due to the conditions as anything, but the variety and level of difficulty were spot on.
Martin Myers shot a 100-straight, which given that there were some really tricky sim pairs was a phenomenal score. Cheryl won the Ladies and qualified for the GBR Compak team.
Lastly was the UK Fitasc Championships at Garlands. Steve Lovatt set a great course on the Saturday with a really good mix of targets. Unlike the previous Fitasc selection shoot, this one had some proper targets and some great combinations that made for a fun and challenging competition.
If this was your first Fitasc experience then you wouldn’t have been disappointed. I shot a 91 on the first day and Cheryl shot an 87. The second day didn’t see much change – the odd target here and there had been altered, but most of the differences were hoop positions. This was disappointing, but the targets were still different enough to up the ante from the previous day.
I was ill overnight and felt awful all Sunday, struggling as a result and only shooting a 76. Cheryl shot well except for an unexplainable loss of all four targets on the pairs of one stand, which cost her the win.
She ended up in a shoot-off with Beckie McKenzie for silver. Cheryl shot really well and came out on top, leaving her second overall to Guy Franklin.
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