Don Brunt saw shooters tackling close technical targets at the 2019 Jack Pyke English Open
The Jack Pyke English Open took place on 19-23 June, with 886 shooters making the journey to Sporting Targets in Bedfordshire to compete for their share of a £7,000 prize fund, and every entrant going home with a goody bag comprising a Jack Pyke gun cleaning mat, bore snake and other giveaways.
Andrew Clifton and his team put together a 15-stand, 120-target course that would test the best yet also please the large number of C Class and Unclassified shooters who take part every year.
The course began on the right hand side of the ground with a fairly friendly going-away target and gravity rabbit, but stand 2 offered a considerably tougher challenge: a sim pair of teal, one of which was at range and flattened quickly, making it very easy to miss by shooting over the top of it. Stand 3 was the first of several that were shot from raised platforms.
Sean Smith took the lead on day 1 with a 110, which was a strong score, but on the form of previous years most expected it to be beaten. However, it proved good enough to stand unbeaten against the reigning World Champion Richard Bunning, who brought in a 109 on the second day, as did Josh Arbon.
Due to the topography of the ground, many of the first 10 stands were on one side. Here it had been necessary to set targets so that competitors were shooting low into banks, thus ensuring dropping shot wasn’t an issue on other parts of the ground. Consequently there were plenty of crossers showing top or dome.
These proved to be deceptive on both line and lead, with the result that plenty of shooters missed them out in front. A fast going-away pair made up of a mini and a standard needed quick reflexes, while the rabbits down among the fir trees had a knack of bouncing at just the wrong moment…
One interesting pair called for a 90 degree shift in stance between birds, while a close crosser and what seemed like eye-wateringly long midi proved to need almost no lead at all.
The third day saw Graham Stirzaker and Pete Humphreys raise the bar to 112, but the course was definitely a little harder than it had been in recent years. This was underlined when Ben Husthwaite couldn’t do more than equal this score on the Saturday.
Out on the other side of the ground, an overhead was followed by a strong, fast, looping right-to-left that needed a good gap. Next up was a crosser and teal that were friendly enough.
The following left-to-right looper and 70mm proved to be somewhat trickier to read and the latter especially saw shooters of all abilities being caught out. A fast quartering bouncy bunny was easy enough to miss while the going away bird that accompanied it wasn’t too tricky.
The final stand saw a pair of driven birds from one of Sporting Targets’ high towers. These were at a good height, but they weren’t under much spring and many shooters ended up giving them too much lead and missing in front.
This was the last chance for those who wanted to break into the lead; Henry Collins came close, but in the end he joined the 112 club, a score that was to remain unbettered.
The four 112s shared the High Gun prize, each going home £400 richer. Josh Arbon finished top in A Class with his 109 while in B the win went to Sean Smith for his 110. Stamati Lagoudis took C Class with a 96 while Unclassified went to Eddie Thomas on 101. John Simms took Vets, Cheryl Hall the Ladies and James Bradley Day the Juniors.
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