Over 1,000 competitors were whittled down to 60 for the final of the Handicap Classic 2013 on Tuesday 7 May. Over a period of 14 weeks, the competition saw big names such as George Digweed and Chris Childerhouse on the books, facing off against hobby shooters and newcomers to the sport – all with an equal chance of qualifying for a shot at the top prize of a Browning B725 Heritage Hunter II worth £5,400.
Robert Cross designed the tough course that tested the competitors, using a wide variety of speed and angle among the trees and across the panoramic view of the whole estate. The trademark layout of the ground – the grouse – was revered and reviled in equal measure by competitors, and proved to be a real test of skill and concentration.
After a celebratory lunch, a word from the event sponsors, which included Clay Shooting magazine, Browning/Miroku, and Eley Hawk, the winners were announced. Gary Smith was the outright winner with a score on the day of 63 added to his handicap of 36 for a total of 99. This beat close competition from Pete Hurst and Kevan Marks in second and third place respectively.
Browning’s David Stapley presented a delighted Gary with the brand new Browning after lunch. Gary said: “This is probably the best day of my life. I’ve never really won a competition before and I am so proud to win this gun. It’s beautiful.” David Stapley said: “It’s such a pleasure to present our prize to a winner who doesn’t finish on the podium regularly.”
Managing Director of the Royal Berkshire Shooting School, Dylan Williams teased the competitors after lunch, with news that he is organising a significant new event in October – “the biggest event, not just in shooting, but in sport.” More details as they are announced – and there will be a thorough review of the Handicap Classic in the July 2013 edition of Clay Shooting magazine.