Mitchell Brooker-Smith is facing down the storm

Mitchell went into a fraught final in pole position

Mitchell Brooker-Smith starts the British Shooting shotgun series with a bang.

Round 1 of the British Shooting shotgun series, kindly hosted by the National Clay Shooting Centre, Bisley took place on 27-28 April. This was going to be a different season compared to 2018.

Two team selections were being crammed into one competition: the CPSA’s England team selection and British Shootings’ Great Britain team selection! This format would also apply to round 2 of the shotgun series.

The Friday before the competition my family and I traveled to Bisley for the pre-event training. When we arrived, the sun was just above the horizon, bathing the landscape with the perfect amount of light for breaking targets.

As a bonus there was no wind whatsoever, so the targets flew straight and at the perfect height. As the morning progressed, I managed to shoot two 24s and a 25-straight for a total of 73 ex-75 so I was more than happy with my day’s training. All I could do now was try to remember what I had learned and put it into play the next day.

We arrived at the shooting ground at 9:00am on Saturday. To everyone’s disappointment, the weather conditions were the complete opposite to the day before.

Short sleeves were not going to be an option. My first round was at 10:30am and the wind was still blowing a gale – we were shooting during the start of Storm Hannah. Although the odds didn’t look promising, I had a decent start with a 22 ex-25.

In conditions like these I couldn’t complain! I managed to keep my form, shooting two more 23s, ending the day on 68 ex-75. This put me in a good position for day 2, and I couldn’t wait to come back and see what was in store. 

The weather conditions on day 2 were much better; the wind was tamer but there was still a cold chill in the air. I had an earlier start on Sunday, so the icy air was at its most bracing. It didn’t stop me from starting strong, shooting a 24 on my first round of the day! I then had a long wait until my second round, so I took for shelter in the clubhouse until it was my turn to shoot. 

My last round of the competition was at 1:30pm. My squad was one of the last to finish the qualification. My motivation and self-confidence had been building up throughout the weekend and this was the moment it payed off.

I managed to end the qualification with a 25-straight, giving me a final score of 117 ex-125, a new personal best and first bib number for the Junior Men’s final. Out of all the other competitors I managed to finish joint second in qualification alongside Jeremy Bird and just behind Ben Llewellin’s 120 ex-125.

I have watched a few finals by this point, and one thing I have noticed is that they are always a completely different kettle of fish to the main shoot. This was going to be the second final I competed in, and going into it with bib number 1 gave me an advantage over all the other finalists. 

Throughout the final, David McNeill was hot on my heels and we were tied all the way up to 40 targets. Unfortunately, I faltered slightly, and David managed to overtake me. The Scotsman took gold on 54/60, leaving me with silver on 52/60. Congratulations to David – it was a tight final – and to Luke Young for winning bronze!  

As I sign off on this column I have a few weeks to prepare for my next competition, the England team selection shoot at Doveridge at the end of May. I’ll tell you all about it time.

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