The Open that almost never was…

Outsider Dave Ferriman lifted the coveted British Open trophy at the Championship that almost never happened. James Marchington reports

As the super-final reached its climax a rainbow appeared, adding to the drama

Dave Ferriman, the 25-year-old gunroom manager at the popular Sporting Targets shooting ground in Bedfordshire, is the new British Open English Sporting Champion.

He earned the title in a tough battle with some of the biggest names in Sporting, culminating in a shoot-off style super-final which saw him lift the historic Daily Telegraph cup in a year when many feared the championship wouldn’t happen at all due to covid restrictions.

Dave was delighted – and not a little surprised! – to find that he had joined
the exalted ranks of British Open champions. “I was keeping an eye on
Sam Green and George Digweed through the final, and at the end I thought I’d done it, but it wasn’t very clear.

“Then George turned to me and said ‘Well done’ and I thought ‘Have I won it then?’ I still wasn’t 100 per cent sure until they said there’s a shoot-off for second.”

Dave had never expected to make the super-final, but shot a good score of 113 ex-120 on the Saturday, qualifying to return for Sunday’s 75-target final. He missed the second target on the first stand, but went on faultlessly to shoot an impressive 74 ex-75, guaranteeing him a place in the super-final. 

Dave Ferriman took the cup in the end, winning himself his first British Open championship

Level with Dave on 74 were Sam Green and George Digweed. Four shooters were tied on 73, leading to a shoot-off for the remaining three places in the super-final. Peter Simpson was eliminated, having to be satisfied with the veterans high gun and 1st in AA Class, while Chris Biddlecombe, Chris Childerhouse and Stuart Cumming joined the others in the super-final.

The weather added to the drama, a sudden downpour drenching the contenders and spectators alike as they took to the first stand. Dave, shooting in a navy T-shirt and no shooting vest, looked calm as he smashed clay after clay with his favourite Lyalvale Express cartridges and a Miroku MK38 which he only recently got to replace his Krieghoff.

“I’d certainly go back to a Krieghoff, but I needed the money!” he comments. “When the financial time is right I’ll get another one.”

The tension mounted as the shoot-off progressed, with the top shooters neck-and-neck. On the last of the three stands the rain stopped abruptly, the sun burst through, and a stunning rainbow framed the scene.

The CPSA and Steve Lovatt’s Clay Shooting Company had done a tremendous job of staging the event, but even they couldn’t have arranged such a picturesque climax. We listened intently as the scores were read out. 

Dave had won the championship by a single target, with his super-final score of 22 adding to his 74 from the morning’s final. George Digweed, also entering the super-final with 74, had managed 21, while Stewart Cumming and Chris Biddlecombe starting on 73 had made up a target to draw level with George.

George Digweed took second place behind Dave, losing out by one point with 21

That meant a shoot-off for second and third place. George quickly confirmed his runner-up spot, while the other two went on to sudden death before Stewart emerged third overall, leaving Chris to take the top spot in AAA Class.

Dave was over the moon, posing with the coveted cup which bears the names of Britain’s top Sporting shots since 1926. He commented it was the biggest achievement of his shooting career to date, trumping his selection to shoot in the England team. The prizegiving ceremony was unlike normal because of the social distancing regulations – but that didn’t detract from the excitement.

William Page won Colts with a 69 ex75, closely followed by Oliver Keates on a 68 ex75. There was a shoot off between Juniors Darcy McBride and Henry Bevan who finished on 68 ex75, and Darcy just pipped Henry to the post by 11 to 10.

Amy Easeman won Lady Junior High Gun, as well as taking Lady Runner Up after a shoot off with Hannah Gibson. Amy commented “I though the final shoot was a lot tamer than the first round, but again there was something there for everyone.

I found the battue particularly tasty in the way it curved towards you. The last stand having three singles was also a great way to finish.” Tanya Faulds won Lady High Gun with a 68 ex75. Sam Nunn took the honour of Disabled Standing High Gun with a 61 ex75. Paul Bailey won Disabled Sitting with 58 ex75.

It was a tremendous ending to the highlight of the competition year – which many feared would be cancelled when the Covid lockdown kicked in at the end of March. Thanks to hard work behind the scenes, this CPSA Major Championship at least was able to go ahead.

The event was shot over five days, from 2 to 6 September, at Garlands Shooting Ground near Tamworth in Staffordshire, with Steve Lovatt of the Clay Shooting Company setting the targets, and CPSA staff hard at work on booking-in and running the scoring system.

Shooters went round in squads to comply with covid regulations

Over 1,000 entrants shot the 120-target course over the first four days. Each day the top five shooters from each class (AAA, AA, A, B, and C) and the top three from each category (Ladies, Seniors, Veterans, Juniors, Colts, and Disabled Standing and Disabled Sitting) were invited to shoot the 75-target final on the Sunday morning. The top six scores from the Final qualified for the 25-target super-final on Sunday afternoon. 

The week saw the British Open Sportrap, which culminated in a shoot-off on the Saturday between James Attwood, Richard Faulds and John Lee who had all shot 98 ex-100. James was crowned champion with 24 ex-25. Richard took runner-up with 21 and John finished one behind on 20.

The event wouldn’t have been the same without Rizzini, distributed in the UK by ASI, as well as Gamebore and Musto, who provided prizes, including a Rizzini BR110 to each of the Sporting category high guns. Promatic traps provided support around the ground, while Teague offered chokes as raffle prizes. Rizzini sponsored the pool shoot with a £100 daily prize.

Around the course with Becky McKenzie

I should have been competing at the Eurocash Fitasc event in France on 5 September, but Covid-19 put a stop to that so I entered the British Open Sporting at Garlands. Steve Lovatt always puts on excellent targets, and I wasn’t disappointed – well, not with his targets; my shooting, on the other hand, was left wanting!

Stand 1 After some serious rain earlier on in the week, Friday turned out rather nice. This stand was a gentle start, with a pink target quartering away right to left, then on report a steady left to right crosser. Fighting through some nerves (yes it does happen), I actually managed to straight this stand!

Stand 2 had a low right to left incomer, then on report from behind the trees came a medium length and pace right to left crosser. The first target made me tighten up, as it looked so easy, and the higher crosser looked ok. However I totally misjudged the speed of the second target. First pair was a hit and a miss. Not enough respect on that second bird. Next pair dead, another pair dead, then the  brain kicked in and I got a kill loss – I had eased up again on the second target.

Stand 3 was in the wood, by the first pond. First target was a left to right rising clay, followed by a sort of incoming crosser. My timing was out and I came away with 7 out of 8, missing the first of the rising targets purely by not trusting myself, hanging on and not squeezing the trigger at the right time.

Stand 4 was a disaster!  A nice pink rabbit right to left, and a long left to right battue. I hit the rabbit and missed the battue. Hit the rabbit, missed the battue. I threw my toys out of the pram and missed a pair. I decided to get on the battue quicker, which led me to over-lead the rabbit, and get the battue wrong again. After that I calmed myself down, and shot a pair dead for 4 out of 8: not good enough.

Stand 5 was a pair of teal, the first one close, the second further away, quicker and at a steeper angle. 7 out of 8 here, much better.

Stand 6 was a simo pair of overhead targets. I watched the previous shooters miss a lot of these, so my plan was to take them a lot earlier, as that’s the way I like to shoot overhead targets. I was chuffed with my score of 8 out of 8 here.

Stand 7 had a cracking simo pair of right to left crossers. I am pleased to report I hit all eight, although every one of them was rather chippy.

Stand 8 was a white left to right lowish crosser, and a long right to left standard crosser. First pair I hit the white and chipped the crosser. Next pair hit the white, then missed the longer crosser. Then I missed the next pair. The last pair I smashed up.

Stand 9 was an on-report pair of rabbits, right to left and left to right. I got pair dead, pair dead. Then on the next pair the first rabbit bounced and I missed it, then got the wrong hold point for the return rabbit. I then killed the last pair for 6 out of 8.

Stand 10 was another simo pair, a quartering away target and a crow. There were a few issues on this stand with no-birds, but it was quickly fixed. I missed the first quartering away target and finished with 7 out of 8.

Stand 11 was up on the mighty platform: a right to left white crosser, then a screaming left to right green. I couldn’t see the green target so well against the green background. I only managed to hit one green for 5 out of 8, and was slightly disappointed as it was a cracking target.

Stand 12 was on report – a driven standard followed by a driven midi. I hit the standard, then the midi came out different to where I expected so I missed that. I changed my hold point on the second target, hit the standard – and again the midi came out different. I came to the conclusion that the first midi had been a no-bird, but the ref never called it. On the third set of targets I knew where this darned midi was meant to be, so I missed it behind instead! Finally the last pair – pair dead. It was a good finish, but I was a bit miffed the ref had missed the no-bird. 

Stand 13 was a right to left looper, with on report a really good left to right tower bird. I missed the looper and took a tiny bit off the back of the crosser. I had decided the looper looked slow but it wasn’t. I got rather mad and smashed the lot for 7 out of 8.

Stand 14 was an orange right to left away low over the pond, crossing into the far bank, then a long right to left dropping crosser. I smashed the orange and took the crosser on – miss. Smashed the orange, missed the crosser. I tried something different on the next pair, then I changed my hold point again on the long crosser, and shot it dropping: pair dead – a sneaky target! 4 out of 8.

Stand 15 This was a long left to right battue, and a horrible low incoming green target! I smashed the battues and missed two darned frogs! 6 out of 8.

I finished on 93/120. Not a poor score, but way off where I thought I should be. I thought Steve put on an excellent selection of targets, with something for everyone.

My new (used) Krieghoff K80, is exactly how I want it to be. It moves smooth and fast, and the custom stock that Midland Gun Services made me, is perfect. I have to get to grips with the speed, and don’t fully trust all the sight pictures that I present to myself. That will come with time, and practice. 

I came away on the Friday feeling a tad dejected – but to my surprise I had qualified for Sunday’s final. No Sunday lie in for me, as my squad start time was 9.45am! 

Sunday’s targets were a little softer than I would have expected for a final – but I didn’t straight the whole shoot; no one did! There were three 74s out of 75, which was awesome. It was a pressure shoot, as you just knew you had to hit everything!

I shot average, hitting the harder stuff, and missing some dolly targets. My 63 wasn’t bad, but left me in fifth place. Above me was Emma Stacey on 65, and Hannah Gibson took bronze on 67 after a shoot-off with Amy Easeman who took silver.

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