Now a regular fixture on the calendar, the Perazzi Grand Prix continues to provide tough-as-nails targets for the technical shooter. Don Brunt was there to see who rose to the challenge.
Few places give as warm a welcome as Mid Wales Shooting Centre, and Jonathan Williams and his team have learnt a thing or two about running major events in the decades since the ground opened.
This year’s Grand Prix Sporting retained the two 75-bird course format, with nine stands on each layout. The event doubled up as the Welsh Open. In addition, the Welsh Open Sportrap would be held alongside the Grand Prix, meaning those who travelled from a considerable distance knew they could get in 250 targets in one day.
Asked in advance what the shoot would be like, Jonathan had implied that it would be tough. In this he was proven very much correct. Both courses were extremely technical and demanded total concentration on every target; there were no gimmes.
There were a lot of birds that you expected to break when you pulled the trigger – but they didn’t, because either the lie of the land or the subtle line of the target was deceptive.
Red started with a fairly innocuous pair of crossers and was followed by a big teal that was easier to shoot than it looked at first. Next up was a mini incomer that needed to be shot head-on, followed by a high, climbing crossing shot thrown from a tower with considerable force.
This required a big transitional move, unless you were confident shooting it as an ultra-high quartering bird, and it caused plenty of problems, regardless of the strategy chosen to approach it. The speedy pair of a low quartering and high driven midi at the next stand was a tough ask as well.
An overhead/incomer pair were pretty friendly, but the respite didn’t last long. At the next stand, a rabbit followed, along with what was probably the toughest bird on the course: a climbing, curling, left-to-right dome. The last three stands on Red were a little more forgiving and responded well to being shot more instinctively.
Red proved to be the softer of the two courses. There was definitely an advantage to starting there and getting a reasonable score under your belt before tackling the Green, which had similarly technical targets but often at a considerably greater distance. This was especially notable on the final day when the wind blew birds even further away from the guns.
The first stand was all about concentration, while the second saw a quartering-away overhead and a decent midi crosser. A technically demanding pair of opposing crossers followed, and then a teal and midi driven combination that wrecked more than a few cards.
A sim pair of left-to-rights demanded an early first shot and a precise follow up; they looked relatively simple, but there weren’t many who managed 10 straight…
Stand 6 saw a rabbit chondel that needed almost no lead, followed by a quick midi. The next stand had a target that no one could fail to take seriously: a long-range battue that became extreme in Sunday’s wind. Shot over a wide-open, featureless field, these targets highlighted the difficulty of judging distance over open ground.
A long-range, flat going-away bird needed a precise shot with minimum gun movement on the next stand and was followed by a midi crosser that also tested muzzle control.
The final stand had two right-to-left crossers. This was as friendly as the shoot got, but even here each bird deviated slightly from the line they looked to be following and it was easy to miss if you took them for granted.
Billy Baughan and Chris Childerhouse shot the two courses in superb style on Friday, each finishing on 137, but Richard King went one better. His 138 was matched on Saturday by Martin Myers and Nick Hendrick; however, Hendrick’s fellow Guerini shooter, Josh Bennion, eclipsed this score by a single target to end up on 139.
That should have been the winning score, considering the difficulty of the course, but Guerini team leader Richard Faulds had other ideas. He demolished both courses to finish on a stunning 143.
Anyone wanting to beat that on Sunday would have faced a Herculean task even if the weather had remained calm, but when the still conditions became a 15-20 mph breeze punctuated by faster gusts, that task became near-impossible.
The big birds on Green 7 were face-on to the wind and they were soon being pushed out by 15 yards or more, making for some very heavy going. Mark Stevenson and Phil Gray shot 72 and 71 respectively on Red, which was less affected by the change in conditions, but it was a big ask to repeat those scores on Green and neither man could manage it. This meant that Faulds had claimed the title in style, leading home a Guerini 1, 2, 3.
In Ladies, Lucy Pitt’s 129 won through, with Rebecca Adlam finishing second. Juniors went to Bennion, and Arnie Palmer took Vets with 135. The course was undeniably tough, but the course setter had made sure that everything was entirely visible and that the shooter had plenty of time to make their shot.
Still, the Perazzi has never been known for being easy, and it doesn’t look likely that it will be making compromises with its target setting any time soon.
The Sportrap was no walk in the park either, with plenty of long tricky targets that humbled some of the very best. Once again there were plenty of very technical birds, with some awkward combinations in the sim pairs.
Stewart Cummings’ 92 looked for some time as if it might be enough, before both George Digweed and Arnie Palmer went one better. But once again it was Richard Faulds’ extraordinary run of form that won the day, as he put in a 96 that would prove unbeatable.
For Perazzi Grand Prix results visit www.midwalesshootingcentre.com
For Welsh Open results visit www.wctsa.co.uk