Mike Bartlett reports on the month’s shooting, and the inevitable role of the wind in the season’s early competitions
Since the last issue there has been the English Open Compak at Orston and the first England Sporting selection shoot at Southdown. We have also been booking our international shooting trips for this year, but before all that we shot two more Sunday doubles.
First up were Forhill and Grange Farm. Unfortunately, Forhill had so many trap breakdowns that we fell four stands short of completing the course; we had to leave by 12 to get to Grange for last entries. At Grange, with the majority of people gone, we had a trouble-free round that saw us both putting in 89s. The weather was good and it was feeling like spring was in the air.
The following weekend we did Orston and then Kegworth. With card numbers 1 and 2 we were the first to start at Orston – that was a mistake. There would have been a lot of benefit in seeing some of the targets shot before we took them on ourselves.
There were some pairs that could be shot either way round, but in practice the less obvious way was the better option. Neither of us shot well here and I particularly struggled all the way round.
Kegworth was another tough course, and it was once again windy. Even the machine, Martin Myers, found it tough here. He put in a 91, well below his average. As for me, I shot better than I had at Orston, but I still struggled and managed only an 85. Cheryl fared even worse. All in all it was a weekend we were glad to put behind us.
The following weekend was the English Open Compak at Orston, and as we were on a late squad, we managed to squeeze in Forhill first. Unfortunately, Forhill was still suffering from technical difficulties, including a slow crosser with a flight that varied by over 20 yards in the strong winds.
Orston was busy. It hadn’t had the winds in the morning, but in the afternoon they came along with a nasty hail storm that started on peg 2 of our first layout. Again, due to the winds there were a couple of crazy targets that were massively different for the morning squads.
Needless to say, all the best scores came from the squads in the morning, That’s shooting for you – there are some things that no-one can do anything about.
The following weekend was a busy one. We shot College Farm first. It had been windy all week there, but when we shot it the weather was still, which showed in the scores. I was one clay off High Gun with a 91 and Cheryl was one behind me with a 90.
It was another great course with some really tricky combinations that had a real impact on the scores. All targets were hittable though. There was nothing silly or overly edge-on, which seems to be a bit of a trend at a lot of grounds recently.
Next was the Southdown England selection shoot. It had been proving to be one of the windiest Februarys on record, and the Saturday of the shoot was no exception. The winds were blowing in formidable gusts of over 40mph.
Cheryl shot a fantastic 93 and was joint winner of the Ladies Sportrap, tying with another 93 that came in the following day, when conditions were much better. I was happy with my 87 as it rained all the way through for our squad.
We then braved the Sporting, where a tough course was made even harder by the savage winds. Cheryl struggled to stand on several of the exposed stands and shot 81. With my bulk I fared better and managed a decent 87, which was fifth on the day.
In the lead was Richard Faulds on 92. The weather was much better the second day, and this was again reflected in the scores; a 95 eventually took the top spot. We couldn’t shoot on the second day as we were booked in for some practice to prepare us for the England Fitasc selection shoot the following weekend… which you’ll be able to read all about next month.