Dunk.............Dunk.............Oh well there's always next week - Tales from the circuit.
The Usual Suspects 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004

Home Internationals

What a performance, me and Little Kev somehow managed to blag our way onto the team to represent England in the Home Internationals – they were desperate you know. Speaking of which it’s ever so surprising how people try to achieve their best results for the Grand Prix season but won’t represent their countries when they get the call up?

Anyway, as I said earlier, what a performance, first off we were going to stop in a bed and breakfast then we were camping - which seemed the best idea right up until we saw the weather forecast for the weekend, gales and wintry showers! Then it was a case of find another Bed and Breakfast at extremely short notice, oh what fun we had!

Due to the fact me and Little Kev were going to Scotland Sam and Amanda had decided to – wait for it – yes you’re right………go shopping, I can’t remember whether I was more nervous at the prospect of representing England or due to the fact the old credit card would be getting a good old fashioned battering!?!

Eventually arriving, after an awful journey, in Dunfermline we found our B&B and decided to do a bit of exploring. Now can someone please tell me why oh why oh why they arranged the home international on the same day that Rangers and Celtic had been having a game of football, everywhere we went people were staggering about going from one pub to the next.

After a quiet drink in town we decided to leave and go to the pub just round the corner from where we were staying for a game of pool or three, nothing to do with the fact one of the locals we met lunged at me and Kev attempting to give us the good old fashioned Scottish welcome.

One good thing about the Home Internationals is it doesn’t start until 10 a.m. so it gave the welsh shooters plenty of time to recover from their night out, rumour has they returned to their lodgings at around 3 in the morning!

All too soon we were being piped to the course, by a man wearing a skirt oh it was a kilt was it. I was shooting with the French-Welshman (he’s alright really) Richard "Rambo" Budgie sorry Beaugie and a Scottish guy who I can’t remember his name because I’m a prat.

The Scots guy went first then Rich and finally moi sorry me funny things you learn when you shoot round with foreigners! First lane a 35 yarder and a 52 yarder, Scotsman missed the first but got the second, Rambo went second missed the first and the second, at this point I fell about the floor laughing and generally taking the piss. I sat down looked at the first target, remember it was only 35 yards away, lane 17, you could see they’d both given it left hand edge, the wind had got up a bit though but not by much so I thought give it inside left edge just for the damn thing to fly across the kill! Missed the second shot as well. Excellent start, we can now see why you shoot for England!

At the next lane Richard missed the first but got the second, again I was falling about taking the pi%$ when Richard turned around and with a look just like in the film Rambo when he says "Don’t push me!" apart from Richard said "Matt…….. Bo$%ox!" so I christened him Rambo! Went down well with him as well………….not. Anyway he got his own back when I sat down and could only manage one hit.

Lane twenty and our first clear lane, bloody hard work and we call this fun.

Onwards and downwards. The first three or four lanes were set out in a field and least said about these the better, well all I can say is we felt sorry for the French Welshman as we let him hit these whilst we didn’t. I couldn’t believe it, no matter what I did it just wasn’t right. Give it four inch at fifty and it’s too much, next shot similar distance, same wind conditions give it four inch again and barely hit the faceplate! Must be said also when Rambo sat down he did wait for the wind to drop plus he was shooting at 900fps with Bisley mags in .22 honest!! Time to try and wind him up to see if he’d crack, but no Rambo remains ice cool.

The next lane was a pair of stander’s, all I can say was I dropped the muzzle on the short one, seem to remember it being a good idea at the time, not! All I could think whilst missing the targets was you’;d better laugh it off cos if you took the sport serious you’d cry.

He is human after all I cried as Richard missed his fourth target, must have been a duff pellet. Actually it was a duff target cos it actually fell for me! At Least I wasn’t the only one suffering as the tell tale sound of DDDDDDDDUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNNKKKKKKKKKK cried out across the open landscape.

Moving onwards I seem to remember all three of us actually cleared the next lane, see I told you this sport was easy. Spoke too soon as at the next lane I made a complete balls up……moving swiftly on was just remarking to Dorian Falconer about his team of sgooters not having true welsh heritage when he remarked his dad was Scottish………………..keep the old gob shut Matthew!

Starting to actually feel the cold now and the sky’s turning decidedly grey so can we hurry along now chappies. Onto the final lane the scot’s down quite a few, the english maybe onre or two in front whilst the french-welshman …………….. is a git sorry is six down.

Richard cleared the final lane to finish six down both me and the Scot missd one of the targets, so I finished on 26 and the Scot 20 I think. Rich had shot a blinder, I think I made him realise why he’d stayed away from the sport with all the insults, but he showed there’s life in the old dog by maintaining his composure and he put in the top score of the day.

Rumours were floating around that the welsh had taken the title but an hour later the results were announced and the English had taken the title by six shots, excellent.

Little Kev had been busy during the waiting around he’d entered both side shoots, long range and dump shoots, and won them both winning two presentation packs of Budweiser, lucky for me he was feeling generous and he let me have one, cheers Kev.

To all those that told me to rename this column I think I’ve finally lived up to it, so all it leaves me to say is DUNK……DUNK……Oh well there’s always next week!

European Championships

I always look forward to this event, it’s the last chance of the year to meet up with everyone and have a good p£$% taking session plus it’s at the midland game fair so it gives ft a chance to be seen by the masses which is never a bad thing.

Anyway arriving early Saturday morning, yes I’ll admit I came in the wrong entrance – my excuse was I followed the signs for shooters thinking that’s what I was, anyway eventually blagging my way to the correct car parking area first job was to go and find breakfast. I know it would be a good idea to check the gun out, make sure it’s shooting in the right direction and all that but hay-ho.

Suitably fed and watered, with ten minutes to go before the off, it seemed like a good idea to fire a couple of shots on the plinking range. Ten shots later, what a waste of time that was as all that grease was pumping through the veins and shots were going everywhere – didn’t want to win the stupid European champs anyway, tinpot title that it is.

After the briefing the cards were handed out and I found I was shooting with Dave "Number 1 Scot" Penman and Timothy "John" Williams, we were starting on lane 3 so at least it was only a short walk for us. Dave started us off and promptly missed his first shot – obviously in awe of the talent he was shooting with, not – he made sure of his second shot though. Tim shot next and he missed one of his first shots as well.

Sitting down at lane 3, I was glad I had the body of an Adonis, o.k. an overweight six foot two orangutang shaped Adonis may be more appropriate but still an Adonis! Where was I, oh yes sitting down it felt like you were bent double everytime you breathed in the cross hairs lifted off the target, time for cunning plan number 1. Stop Breathing! After almost turning blue, holding my breath for a minute, I realised that it may help if I pull the trigger luckily when I did down the target went, yippeeee. Whilst the first target may have taken around a minute the second, even though it was longer took about ten seconds – boy was I glad to be clear after that lane, can I go home now?

Moving on a few lanes, the first three lanes or so were uneventful as there wasn’t any wind, there I was cross hairs set perfectly in the centre of a 45 yard target just for me to yank them straight across to the edge of it, was I well pleased with that shot! We were now all level, time to concentrate me thinks – more like time for the serious p"£$ taking to begin.

To those who didn’t go to this event, I won’t be able to explain how difficult it was to see and accurately rangefind your targets, it was bleedin dark in them there trees it didn’t help having the sun shining at you from the side either. Again I digress, Dave – after his earlier blip - was now in flying mode the targets were just dropping no matter what he did, Tim had missed a couple and I was still one down right up until a 50 yarder that yet again I pulled out of the kill as I snatched at the trigger. It was a stunning shot, my follow through was perfect, cause I saw it all the way to the target as it split again on the right hand side of the kill, doh.

So there I am two down, with both missed shots caused by the plonker behind the trigger! We weren’t even half way round the course so things weren’t looking good at all. Rumours were filtering through that we were on the easy part of the course as well, the last eight shots in the bottom corner were going to be the deciding factor – oh good at least the weather was nice.

Time to take the mick of Dave chatting to his adoring public, no he was doing a sterling job, chatting to all and sundry about the sport of FT. Just a thought but maybe next year we could have advertising hoarding’s for the BFTA and any sponsor’s of the European champs all the way along the railings separating the shooters and the public, also what about having the marshal’s handing out flyer’s detailing all of the aspect’s of the sport and where to get further information?

Back to shooting, Dave was still one down as we neared that evil stander set at the top of the tree, Tim was still three and me two. Dave missed it but Tim got it as did I – just a walk in the park, honest!! Moving swiftly on to the bottom corner Dave and Tim suddenly decided to start missing a few well quite a lot really I just continued picking edges of the kill and luckily they kept on falling.

Two down with two lanes to go, one being a standing lane! On the long walk back from the end of the course there was a massive variety of scores that we were hearing about, a couple one down others that you’d expect to be doing the same well out of it all I could think was If I could hold it at two down I’d at least be in with a shout of the top ten overall.

Dave and Tim continued their run of bad luck missing the standers, they didn’t look that bad, ranged at 37 and 27 yards respectively. All was well on the first shot as the target fell obediently. The second shot felt even better, cross hairs dead centre, just pull the trigger slowly and snatch I pull it across to the right hand edge of the kill, well done Matt!

Three down with one lane to go and what a lane it was both 50 odd yards! Luckily for me they both went so I finished three down on the day, not sure how Dave and Tim finished, well I am but I’ve forgotten sorry boys.

Come the afternoon session the wind really got up and there was some superb shooting from Brett Walker showing the true potential of his Zenith, makes a change………….just kidding Brett. Anyway top scores were 2’s and 3’s with masses on 4’s and 5’s so come tomorrow it was still all to play for.

Day 2

Wasn’t shooting until the afternoon so had a bit of a lie in hence arriving at 8:30, time to have a quick walk round the show and then get back to see how people were doing ready for this afternoon’s session. Must say I was a bit disappointed with the show, nothing really of interest other than the falconry display.

Anyway back to the shoot, on the second day they rejig the draw so you’re shooting around with people who’d scored similar to you on the previous day, unlukily for me I was shooting with Stu "Laughing Cuckaborough" Hancox and Dave Baines. I say unluckily, its just I can never keep a straight face when Stu’s around plus its intimidating shooting round with some of the top shooters in the country!

Indications from the morning were that the course was a lot tougher it was also noticeable that the wind had reared its ugly head and yet again the final eight shots of the course were going to be the deciders. Brett Walker had shot, by his own admission, like a complete an utter numpty dropping ten – he wasn’t too impressed to say the least.

All too soon it was time to go to the plinking range and check the zero, fired five shots just to see the wind was moving the pellet between nothing and an inch at 50 yards, but would it be doing this in the woods? Amanda and Sam were just contemplating opening their first bottle of wine, so I was glad to be going onto the firing line!

It was good to find I’d got an even shorter walk than the previous day as I was starting on Lane 1 like I said earlier though I did feel intimidated/out of my league because of the guy’s I was shooting round with. All too soon the start was sounded, Dave decided to go first then Stuart and finally me.

Lane 1 Kneelers, luckily down they all went, onto the next lane – oh nearly forgot whilst I normally like shooting last I absolutely hated shooting last in this event, it always felt like I needed to rush the shots as the group behind were waiting.

Things were looking good right up until the third or fourth lane when I came to a 40 odd yard target, yes it was windy but not that much so I gave it just left of centre just for it to fly out of the kill, thankyou very much! Stu and Dave were still clear, no surprise there then.

I didn’t have to wait too long for Dave’s first mistake, he shot the first stander sat down – me and Stu were too busy talking to pay attention to what the lane was designated as. Anyway Dave promptly stood up and missed the second longer shot, cursing under his breath as he did so. Speaking of cursing we tried to have a bet with Stu to see how long he could go without swearing, we even told him we’d start deducting targets, but I think all he could manage was around a minute – mind you I can’t say anything about his language!

Moving on through the course, god it was a lot windier than the previous day also it kept on swapping sides, I got caught out again on a longer target as the pellet sailed by the kill but I still couldn’t complain at being two down. Dave was also two down whilst Stu "Modest" Hancox was clear!

The other shooters around us were having a few nightmares though, Jonathan Noon was down a few, as was Tim Finley whilst Andy Calpin and Ian Taylor were keeping tight lipped on their progress throughout the course.

Looking down the course of fire I could see that the evil stander from the previous day had been changed into an even more eviler kneeler and as we made our way to the target I felt sure I was going to miss it. Maybe it was the worry about missing the kneeler that made me miss another target around the 45 yard range – again didn’t give it enough wind!

Anyway the kneelers came and went uneventful, couldn’t see what the problem was really didn’t bother me one bit! OK I’ll admit it I was shaking like an extremely shaky thing in the wind but it fell over so that’s all that matters! Dave was three down as was Myself, Stuart the unstoppable was clear!!

We were now hearing how bad it was in the final eight shots of the course, many shooters wouldn’t tell you just shook their heads as they went by but it seemed common place to drop three or four of the final eight!

Dave was the next to miss another target, putting him four down, now if only I could stay three down maybe I could finish in the top ten not only that maybe I could avoid a shoot-off. Luckily for me both targets at this lane fell obediently.

Six targets, three lanes to go. The three of us cleared this lane but due to a back log of shooters in this bottom corner we had to wait and watch Ian, Andy and Jonathan shoot this lane. Stu needed to beat Ian, Andy and Jonathan by at least a target to win the title, however Jonathan was having a bad day Andy wasn’t doing so well either so it was left to Ian to mount a challenge. Anyway we watched as Ian missed one of his shots, and Stu in his own charming manner strolls upto Ian and says "Can you feel it slipping away from you Ian?".

It now looked odds on that Stu would clear the course, however on the next to the last lane – after watching Dave hit both targets – Stu double dinked it so it was now game on! Stu’s now five ex 78 as was Ian. I sat down on this lane gave the first target edge of plate, which was the same I’d been giving them all along this section, only for the pellet to fly straight – well impressed.

At the next lane Dave again dropped both targets to finish four down – seven overall – Stu sits down and promptly misses the first shot! He makes sure of the shorter second shot though. From being clear to three down in three shots, he was well gutted.

I sat down needing both these shots to force a shootoff with Dave, The first longer of the two I parrallaxed, re-parrallaxed it, then re-re-parrallaxed it 50 yards. What to do, the last long shot went straight, give it edge of plate, pull trigger and down she falls. Second shot 40 odd yards, knowing that I needed this to stay level with Dave I starts shaking like an extremely shaky thing but somehow managed to slip the trigger at the right time to watch the pellet all the way to the target! Luckily down she went.

Time to leave the course to let Ian’s group get on with it, to cut a long story short Ian showed true class by dropping the final pair to add the European title to his belt along with the world title he won earlier in the year. Stuart got back to the carpark and stripped his gun as he’d decided to sell it and just as he’s about to walk back to the course to help bring it in it’s announced he’s wanted for a shoot-off!

Stu was due to be shooting off with Andy for second and third, whilst I was shooting off with Dave Baines for fourth and Fifth. Me and Dave were up first so we tossed a Muesli bar up in the air – we didn’t have a coin – and it was decided that Dave would go first. Two targets one at 47 the other at 52 yards shooting sitting.

Dave drops the first but on the second he shakes his head in disbelief as it stays up. Anyway I sit down range find the first, load the gun and just as I pull the trigger lift the muzzle, good one Matt. On the second I could see Dave had just been taken out of the kill so I gave it about a kill and it struck just below centre. Wow still in with a shout.

Kneeler’s next, I’ll admit I was prying that they’d say stander’s next but hay-ho. Dave drops both targets, I follow suit. Now the stander’s. Dave misses the first but drops the second. I lower the gun on aim for the first shot and all I can remember thinking was bleedin hell this is steady, move the cross hair to the left of the kill, wow still steady, oh yes nearly forgot pull the trigger and down the target falls. Second shot again lower the gun, bleedin hell this is steady, move the cross hair so that’s it’s at least a kill of wind on the left, wow still steady, pull the trigger and DDDDDDUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNKKKKKK the f’ing pellet goes straight. It was a stunning shot, even if I do say so myself, perfect at 9 O’clock!

It was at this point Dave turns around and says "for F£$%’s sake hurry up and end it Matt cos I’m knackered". He promptly went and missed the targets standing again. All I was thinking all I need now is a split on one of them, wasn’t bothered about hitting it cleanly a split’ll do. Lined up on the left hand side of the first targets kill, pull the trigger and down she goes, excellent.

Various other shoot offs ensued but the top three places were as follows first Ian Taylor, second Andy Calpin and third Stu Hancox.

All I can say is: It’s been a funny old year……. There’s been up’s and there’s been down’s but generally more up’s than down’s. But if there hadn’t been any down’s then there couldn’t have been any up’s so……………….Amanda give me my bottle of cider back! Yes I know I’ve had six already, but……….

See you at the home internationals if not hope to see you all, next year.

UK Champs

Given the choice between a hunter shoot locally or do a couple hundred mile round trip and do the UK champs, no question really which one I was going to do. I’ve nothing against the hunter shoots, no really I haven’t, it just doesn’t appeal to me – if it did I wouldn’t have shot any FT this year and would have done the hunter league instead. Other reason for me doing the shoot at Harrier’s is we’d arrange to go out with Little Kev and his better half Sam after the shoot. Glad I’ve got that off me chest now let’s get on with the shoot.

Russ Spencer had phoned earlier on in the week to see if I was going to the shoot, so we had to make a slight detour at Junction 30 to pick up Russ , well so he could follow us, down to the shoot. Just one point when Russ is following don’t, when leaving the motorway, suddenly change lanes as he nearly ends up in the side of your car, eh Russ.

Arriving bright and not too early at Harriers – for the first time ever we managed not to drive straight by the gates! – we were surprised to see such a good turnout, in deed you couldn’t park anywhere near the shoot for all of the cars! Time for some breakfast.

As me and Russ were the some of the last to arrive we ended up shooting round together, whilst Amanda and Sam went off shopping. Harriers ground is a mixture of open fields, fishing ponds and thin woodland so you get a good mix of shooting only thing that is always there is that darned wind!

Early indications were that, despite the wind, you could only drop a couple on the main event if you wanted to be in contention for the top prize, indeed the top score when we arrived was Cliff Church, 3 down with a couple four down and then another group six down. It was to be a combined event – Main event, dump shoot and silhouette’s all counting towards the overall prize.

Anyway things were not looking good as we made our way to the start of the course, the conditions were definitely getting worse – o.k. I won’t build it up then, the conditions hadn’t changed at all. Russ wanted to shoot first and promptly missed the first but got the second, all he said was he couldn’t see what it was doing out there. I sat down and the first target, around 50 yards, was peppered both sides but the wind was gusting left to right, what to do, what to do give it half a kill and down she falls. The second followed suit.

Moving through the first couple of lanes Russ was struggling to see where he was missing I just remarked that today was going to be about who had the balls to keep inside or be able to pick which edge of kill to aim – boy would these words come back to haunt me.

All was still going well as we passed the first 4 lanes and then I was caught out on a short’ish target, around 45 yards. Russ was maintianing his score, I was still confident as we made our way into the first wooded bit and missed the short kneeler, excellent.

Was still happy with the score though, as I never really do that well at Harriers anyway. Wish I hadn’t said anything as DDDDUUUUUNNNNKKKKKKK. The wind was gusting , the target was set up a tree, it’s string was even bowing but the damn pellet never moved! Three down and hot even halfway round the course.

Time to buckle down, James Osbourne walked by saying he was two down with two lanes to go – he finished six down! Thanks for that James. Phil James also walked by he had finished three down, but we won’t go on about that – nah it was stunning shooting in those conditions.

Anyway onwards and upwards I believe that’s what they say. Russ was now around six or seven down and me three but it didn’t matter as we were having a laugh and as Russ said it was better than being couped up in the house all afternoon.

We were soon joined by Stu Hancox who walked the rest of the course to see how we were doing, luckily for the both of us we managed to hit all the targets while he stayed with us. Russ dropped a couple more shots whilst all I could think of was I wwas still three down and I could now see why the bottom corner was going to be the deciding factor. All the targets looked at least 50 yards and set out in the open.

All too soon the final two lanes were upon us Russ had made it here 11 down whilst luckily for me I was still three. Russ nails the first two targets. I sit down the first targets 53 yards pellets on the left hand side of the face plate so I give it a good six inch and watch as the pellet arc’s across into the centre on the kill, this FT games easy! Second shot just slightly shorter, only a yard or so, it’s set more out in the open so again I give it the same, and watch as the pellet starts to arc and then flys dead straight right to the edge of the plate, Damn Biiiiiiaaaaaattttttttcccccchhhhhhh!

Final lane and again Russ nails them. I sit down and give the first a coupe of inch and it flys straight whilst the second I give inside edge of the kill and it barely touches the face plate. Well impressed with myself!

Straight onto the dump shoot! Looking at the first target maybe we should have done this instead of the main event! For dump shoot read bleedin small kills set at stupid ranges coupled with a nasty wind! Now add in the fact about 70 or 80 people had shot and some hit but the majority of people missed these targets then you get the picture don’t ya.

Things went from bad to worse as I just couldn’t get the hang of these, Russ was flying though, well he was until he succumbed to the might of me moaning a bucketful. He’d had an amazing start but Russ finished on a 11 whilst I’d had an extremely poor start and finished on 9 and boy was I pleased to have done that.

Silhouette’s, James Osbourne had cleared these so that put paid to winning this event. There were also Monty on 17 and Lee Hadlington, oh and Hugh Osbourne on 17. I started out alright clearing the chicks and them piggies, just fell fowl of the turkeys and the Rams well I’ve never been any good with sheep, but that’s a different story. Ending up on 17, I offered to decline the shootoff against the other four but Little Kev was having none of it. I’m actually glad I did it as I ended up with second place!

Anyway a good shoot, shot like a fool but there’s nothing new there then and remember Dunk….Dunk….Oh well there’s always next week.


This year it’d been moved to the Sunday and there wasn’t going to be a master’s event because of this up until a few days before the event I wasn’t even sure I was going to attend, even though I consider it to be one of the best shoots of the year. However cos the other half wanted to go to Southern Monkey World it was decided we’d go down on the Sunday morning, after getting knocked out in the first round of both events we could then drive down to Bournemouth spend the night there and goto Monkey World on the Monday!

It must be said thing’s didn’t exactly get off to a good start, first the alarm didn’t go off so we woke up at 5 O’clock, we had originally intended leaving at 5! Then, whilst travelling down the M1, we were both too busy admiring all the souped up cars, we missed our turn off! So it was now to do some creative driving to get us back on track! Creative being the word it must be said, honest we kept to the speed limit mister occifer.

Whilst doing this creative driving numerous phone calls to little Kev were made asking him to fein illness inorder to put a halt on proceedings or failing that do a streak up the firing line – that’d certainly stop people in their tracks. Luckily for us we arrived just before 8:45 – we were due to start at 9:00!

In the first round I was due to meet Dave Doe, oh lucky me I never wanted to win the showdown anyway much prefer the plate! Found out I wasn’t shooting in the first group so could have taken my time afterall, time to go on the plinking range.

Fired three or four shots, everything seemed ok. I don’t know about you lot but this year I hardly seem to spend any time on the plinking range, granted sometimes I wish I’d spent a lot more time on it but…….

All too soon it was time to begin and we found ourselves starting on a standing lane. Dave wanted to shoot first, and he promptly missed his first shot to which I offered my sincere condolences – honest! He nailed his second shot though. I sneaked the first and the second was a stunner, well oh right I sneaked both shots but both targets fell and that’s all that matters.

Over the next couple of lanes we carried on matching each other by dropping the targets on the lane. I was just feeling grateful that he’d missed his first shot giving me the lead when, on the long kneeler I lifted the muzzle out of the kill and hit the plate at 12 O’clock. Panic set in and I couldn’t work out if I needed the front lens up or down, or whether I needed all the lenses down and also the front Butler creek cap with the hole in it. I was getting counted down from ten by this point, so I just thought F’it dialled my 35 yards zero and aimed dead centre, luckily it went.

Both one down as we walked down to the start of the course, time for a change of tactic – we both must have been on the same wavelength – time for the verbal abuse to start! "Dave, you might as well give up now!", "why?","Well I’ve just been reminded that the last time two times I’ve shot at Newbury I’ve won the comp, e.g. The master’s then it was a clearance at the Inter-regionals", modest that I am! The reply I can’t repeat on here by the way.

It was noticeable how much windier it was down here, well that’s my excuse for shooting like a plank, as we made our way onto the final lane I found myself two behind Dave as he cleared this. Time to got to stats to see who I’d got in the next round!

1st round of the plate I’d got a bi so cajoled Steve Gallop and Trev Ryan into having a go round the course, the one behind the stats tent. All I can say about this course is "where was the wind?" All the way down, up until the bottom two lanes it was just a case of pick an edge and I finished on a 18 beating the other two by at least three shots. All I can say was they weren’t exactly taking it serious as they were talking about Jackass!

2nd Round proper and I found myself up against Daniel Eley, not exactly a walk over, we were on the top course. I was shooting first, all was going to plan all the way upto the first target it was just the pellet had other ideas as it flew across the kill, the second fell obediently though. Daniel nailed both of his targets, 1 down already maybe I would get knocked out and be able to head to Bournemouth early on?

Moving through the course things stayed the same until we reached the kneelers when Daniel double dunked them, again I offered my commiseration’s and we moved on. 1 up on him excellent. After this Daniel struggled a bit and dropped one more whilst I remained 1 down.

Time for the long walk back to the start of the course for the final three lanes. These three lanes were set in the open part of the course so it was time to be brave with the wind either that or be stupid. Stupid or brave it seemed to work and we got to the final lane, standers, and I needed one of them. Luckily both went, I was through! Daniel decided he was going to finish in style, but by his own admission his heart wasn’t in it and missed them both.

No rest for the wicked, straight into the third round. I was drawn against one of the Zenith boys, Stuart Murray, now the last time we met at Newbury was the BFTA Champs in a shoot off for ninth and tenth places I was very lucky with a pair of standers and pushed him into tenth, so this was going to be one hell of a grudge match.

Being the shy, retiring, modest type of chap I am I didn’t mention once the fact about the last time we met at all, ok. maybe five or ten times then. To be honest I was struggling from the start and after the kneeling lane I was already two down on Stuart, things were not looking good at all.

Starting on the bottom part of the course I couldn’t believe my luck when Stuart started to miss target after target and he left the door wide open, well it’d be rude not to take him up on the chance he gave me wouldn’t it. Brett Walker was mulling around in the background, giving friendly abuse, whoever won out on this comp would meet him in the next round. What time is it oh four in the afternoon, What Amanda’s gonna kill me!

Like I said Stuart had left the door wide open and at the final lane I needed just one shot to goto the next round, I did however advise him that all bribes would be readily accepted if he really wanted to get through, again the response was unprintable.

4th round, time to meet Brett. Back to the course behind the tent. I managed to get Nathan "Splitter" Reeve to Marshall us round this round just so we could have a good laugh no matter who went out. Starting on lane three Brett’s shooting went to pieces he was missing no end of targets, I know he’s a crap shot but he’s not normally this crap – just kidding Brett, also getting my own back for all the hassle. I thought I could dish the abuse out, but get him and Nathan together and even I ended up telling them to shut up!

Anyway as we approached the bottom couple of lanes, we were both missing plenty of targets, Brett was harping on about how I should let him win so I made him an offer I’d let him win if he’d give me his Zenith. That kept him quiet for a few seconds and allowed me to concentrate on the task in hand.

At lane one I needed three out the last four to take this round, Brett was again harping on about how he should win this round so again I put my offer to him I’d let him win if he’d give me his Zenith – I’ll get one someday, believe you me! Brett remained quiet enough for me to nail these targets.

Final lane Brett got both his shots and I was just settling into the first shot when again he started rabbiting on about his Zenith, aaaaaarrrrrrrrrrggggggghhhhhhhhh! I had to get the last two shots just to keep him quiet.

I’d made it through to the final round in the plate, bumping into Little Kev I asked him if he’d go down and see Amanda and tell her that I’m sorry that I was in the final of the plate competition so it wouldn’t be long now before we’d be on our way!

Amanda must have been in a good mood at the moment Little Kev had talked to her as she’d set a drink and some food up with him, in all the melee of the shooting I hadn’t realised I’d had nothing to eat since five this morning!

The final in the Showdown proper was the same as last year, between Tim Finley and Andy Calpin, I was up against Wayne Twelvetree. Time to begin and I was to shoot first, oh good.

Starting on lane six we had a massive crowd behind us, well two people other than Wayne, Nathan and myself – the crowd was watching the proper final. Anyway I started off well staying clear as did Wayne.

After the first three or four lanes I ended up being two up it wasn’t to last long as a stupid mistake at one of the targets meant it was still wide open. Walking back to the open part of the course, lanes one, two and three I bumped into a few people who asked how I was going to be honest I was that nervous I just wanted to get on with the course so I apologise if I wasn’t talkative.

The wind had really picked up by now and I was very lucky on these, Wayne dropped another so it was 1-3 still fairly open. Moving swiftly on, sorry if this reports a bit sketchy I’m writing it two weeks after the event. The final lane I needed one of these to win the plate, I was chuffed to see that whilst the back one was around 50 yards the other was a full size kill at 25! I was still confident of getting both right up to the moment I saw the first pellet going dead straight, I’d given it around a kill of wind! DDDDDUUUUUNNNNNNKKKKKKK, bo£$%£$.

You should have seen the sight picture on the second shot, even though it was only 25 yards away I struggled to get the cross anywhere near the killzone. It felt like I’d been on this target alone for over a minute, but still I couldn’t get near the kill, time for a cunning plan! Well no, not really, I was sure the time was getting close so decided the next time I got the cross near the kill to drag it across and snatch the trigger. It was a stupid idea but it paid off, thankgod. Wayne sat down and nailed both do it finished up 18 – 17, I’d won the plate!

Walking round we were just in time to see Tim and Andy shooting off, they’d finished on 18 apiece. What must have been going through Tim’s head when he did the final two shot’s standing I don’t know but he nailed them both , top shooting!

Amanda finally made an appearance just in time to see me collect the plate and then it was time to bomb down to Bournemouth for the night.

G.P.9 Castle.

Christ hasn't it gone quick, only seems two minutes since I was gearing up ready for the Welsh Open oh well another year older another year......... something or other.

Generally I've had one hell of a Grand Prix series results wise, by my standards, granted I've not won anything but then again I've not come last in ought neither - so that's always a benefit. In fact on the run upto this event I was in eight place, in AA grade, only problem was there were lots of top class shooters - the like's of Cliff Church and Ian Taylor's - who hadn't done all of the shoots so all they needed was one more good result and I could find myself ending up way out of it - good so no pressure going in to the last event then!

So here I am at the final shoot needing to have one hell of a result or at least keep up with those around me just so I could finish in the top ten. The only slight problem I have is the fact that when I look back at the results I've had at Castle - let's put it this way they've never been that great, O.K. they're f'ing awful. But never mind I never wanted a tin cup anyway.

Team wise Ripley had kicked everyone else's arse it also looked like we, Daystate that is, would take second with Zenith and Anschutz fighting it out for third and forth. Stuart Hancox had taken AA grade back in Scotland whilst as mentioned earlier the rest of the top ten positions were going to be decided at Castle. In A grade, and also B and C grade, all the top positions were wide open.

Castle's ground is amazing it comprises semi mature woodland, open fields, thin brush, thick brush in fact you name it they've got it.............. What about water?...............O.K. maybe not quite everything but most things then...........clever cu*%.

Anyway the day of the shoot dawned and it was with a fair bit of trepidation the Hirst mobile set off and promptly got lost, I can hear the Bisley crew shouting "Nothing new there then Matt!" as I type, luckily for us we nearly crashed in to Steve Gallop (who'd also got lost) and we were soon pointing in the right direction.

I wasn't too chuffed with the weather conditions, it must be said, since setting off it had remained warm and dead calm. I always prefer to have a stiff breeze blowing as it levels the playing field a bit plus it also makes you think about the targets a bit more, although by the time we got to Castle the breeze was starting to pick up so maybe it was going to prove interesting after all.

On the plinking range all I could think of was that I needed to have a good shoot hence the reason I gave up trying to put anything like a group together after about 10 or so shots. Come on let's get it started...........

Can't remember what lane it was I'd drawn, come on I'm writing this a week after the event, it was the final one before you shot the only lane out in the bottom field - there were three quite close together, go on admit it you know exactly where I mean don't you? I was drawn against Bobby Banks and Davinia Wainwright, Bobby wanted to go first then Davinia and finally me. Could be around lane 13ish?

All too soon the start was signaled Bobby sat down dropped both targets a did Davinia, I sat down didn't feel confident of the ranges but down they went. At the next lane Bobby missed the first, said it went straight but managed the second. Davinia got the first but missed the second. As for me I sat down and the bleedin wind got up, thank you very much, I thought you like wind Matt - only if we all get it, anyway I gave the first target about an inch out of the kill on the hand side just to find out I'd slightly overranged it as the pellet split at one O'clock, time to give a little bit of caution to the second me thinks sod it give it the same and down she falls. At least we were all one down.

Moving swiftly on, on to a kneeling lane, Davinia has to take these standing and missed the first whilst me and Bob nailed both. Next up a pair of nice stander's, it could be said these didn't exactly endear themselves to Bob as he missed both I was lucky and nailed them. I was joined By splitter Reeves he was shooting in the afternoon, something was mentioned along the lines of all the best shots are shooting in the afternoon to which the air rapidly turned blue and he was dispatched to go and annoy someone else, just kidding, he was sent to see how everyone else was doing.

As we turned the bottom corner it was noticeable that the wind had disappeared, well it was still there but you could follow your pellets all the way to the targets and see they weren't being moved at all. So all the way up the 42 52 alley, I know not every lane was 42 and 52 yards but everytime I took any real notice of what ranges they were that's what they kept coming up at! Luckily they kept on falling as well.

Moving upto lane 23 it was as though someone had just flicked a switch as all of a sudden the pellets started moving it was now time to pay attention to what was going on and err on the side of caution and give an inside edge. The Bisley crew also made an appearance Moses was praying to the wind gods I'm sure as he walked by me - I had a dead center split! The same gods however were on my side as it went though!

Indications were it was looking like a very high scoring day, although there were one or two casualties, Tim Finley was four down, Dave Harrison, like me, was one, Dave "Top Scot at the worlds" Penman was also four down. Finally back at lane one Nathan made another appearance asking how I was doing it seems there were one or two of us one down but most were down between two to four targets, time to get the head down and concentrate on the task in hand. Lanes one to four were set in the field, oh good, so it was nigh on impossible to judge what was going on with the wind time to examine faceplates.

All was still going well up until target three, I'm still kicking myself for doing what I did now, I was there in the kill finger ready to trip the second stage when the whistle blows, panic sets in and numpty brain becomes firmly engaged, oh just pull the damn trigger it'll go. No it won't as I drag the gun across the faceplate just prior to pulling the trigger and the pellet moves about 4mm to the left of the crosses resting place. Oh just in case you're interested about the crosses final resting place it was on the left hand edge of the kill. Boy was I well chuffed with that shot. After the whistle I managed to recompose myself and drop the second shot, even though I was still smarting.

The next lane came and went in a blur, then onto a set of standers, all that can be said was boy what a set of standers they were. Didn't look particuarly long but once ranged it confirmed they weren't a walk in the park. Managed the first cleanly but got the second with a split, boy these Daystate's are good.

All the way down the start of the course, with the exception being the bit in the field, it was a case of pick an edge and slip the trigger it was one of those days where I could do no wrong - don't happen very often but nice when it does. Yet again as mentioned earlier it was as though someone had flicked a switch, as soon as we got to the bottom part of the course, three lanes to go, the wind appeared - or had it. What laid before us were two targets, the first looked long, very long whilst the other looked around 40 odd yards - time to exercise a little caution me thinks.

Sitting ranging the targets I got a shock at how far the longer one was 40 odd yards, re range it, exactly the same O.K. go with it. Now what's the wind doing well it's coming over our backs but you could see on the faceplate all of the misses on the left hand side, dare I give it dead centre, what to do, what to do, oh f'it and slip the trigger and down she falls waaaaahhhhhhheeeeeeeeyyyyyyyy missus. The second one followed suit.

Two down with two lanes to go, oh how glad I was when I saw the second to the last lane both 50 odd yarders! Sit down range the first 51 yards'ish wind coming in from the left - time to come out the kill, give it half an inch and pull the trigger, just for the pellet to follow the cross hair and stay out half an inch. O.K. I can accept that next target, a couple of yards longer aim dead center just for it to sweep out to the left by a couple of inch! You Bast£$%, although thinking about it I'd still go back and shoot them exactly the same way now, so can't complain.

Four down with one lane to go, luckily for me both went. Bobby finished on a 42 and Davinia on a 39 so good shooting all round. The good news for me at least was that I'd beaten or drawn with the people I needed to maintain my eighth position, and depending on what scores were dropped I might even move up a place or two.

The wait for the end of the afternoon's competition to end was a long one, only for Amanda and Davinia was the sight of Ian flying a kite in a pair of shorts! He's certainly coming out of his shell since he became world champ! Where was I, oh yes the afternoon's competition. By about 3 O'clock rumor's began circulating that someone was only one down, what?!? We'd shot when it was calm those who shot in the afternoon definitely drew the short straw with regard the wind conditions. Anyway who was this top shot? none other than Little Tom McDonald from Bisley, unfortunately whether the nerves got to him or the pressure of people watching, we'll never know as he ended up on a 42! Boy I can't wait till he's got a little more experience under his belt, potential world champ - maybe - if so you read it here first.

Once the results were gathered in the shoot off's were called. There was me, Tim Finley, Chris Smith, Ian Taylor and Matthew Knock, Now Matthew Knock had gone home I wasn't bothered about being in the shoot off Chris and Ian weren't bothered about the shoot off it was then I had a cunning plan. Amanda had decided that I should be in the shoot off, so I had a word with Tim and we decided to shoot off using his spring gun with a 4 mag scope! Boy them targets look a long way off on 4 mag! Anyway Tim showed his true class by beating me by hitting 2 of the four targets whilst I....................hadn't.

Eventually around eight O'clock it was time for the prize giving, I was stood waiting for Dave Harrison to be called out, why Dave I hear you all shout, he was the one below me in the standing's. He was called out as finishing ninth in double A so I fully expected to be called next, however Ian Taylor was called, maybe I'd got it wrong and I was now out of the top ten, gutted! Nick Murphey was the next called then Andy Calpin I was just about to say to Amanda I bet I've just been pushed out of the top ten when I was called after finishing fifth. Fifth I couldn't, still can't, believe that I finished fifth, well chuffed. There's no stopping me now.

There's no stopping me now, well all was well until I went to the club the following Thursday, let's just say I missed more than I hit......Oh well there's always next week!

G.P.8 Fenlands.

Having just got back from Ireland the previous Tuesday I must admit I was still knackered from all of the travelling so even though it wasn't too far away I wasn't bothered about going but then Amanda mentioned that we could always stop at home and finish paitning the fence. Within five minutes the car was packed and we were on our way.

At six in the morning the temperature gauge was showing 18 degrees by the time we arrived at the shoot, around eight'ish it was showing 23! I hate hot weather I do, but at least shooting in the hot weather is better than painting the fence in hot weather - I'll reserve judgement on that statement me thinks.

It was nice to see all the competitors who had travelled from England had had safe journeys home, Ian Taylor was that delighted at winning the world Champ he decided to treat all the girlies to an outing of his legs, Paul Wilson had even sobered up - well just about.

As I said earlier I hate hot weather so didn't walk the course or spend too much time on the practice range in fact it could be said I did sweet FA other than engage in conversation, well pi$$ taking, of Nathan "Splitter" Reeves. Speaking of Nathan, it was around the time of spotting Nathan that Amanda had to be dragged off his grandad - he was walking around scnatily clad in fact the rumors doing the circuit hinted that if it got any hotter he was going to srtip down to his leopard skin thong!

Moving swiftly on.

All too soon we were called to shoot and all I can say was it was baking hot - too hot even though it was only 9:30. Arriving at, unlucky for some, lane 13 I was met by Clive Marsh and Dave Croucher who like me were feeling the heat already. The sun must have really got to me as I elected or was that was pushed into shooting first.

The groundis set in a quarry like area the course started out in the open and meanderred along making good use of all the angles available eventually finishing with you shooting across a couple of lakes - all good fun.

As I sat down, making sure I didn't sit on any the snakes we had to watch out for, I was jsut ranging the first target when I notied grass across the kills - so yes I'm to blame for the first whistle! After restarting I settled down and thank god the first couple of targets fell. Next up was Dave who followed suit by dropping both targets then Clive who again copied what we'd just done.

My first miss came five lanes later, target 34, I made it 55 yards for some reason, just for the pellet to strike high. Luckily for me or rather unluckily for Dave and Clive both missed this target. I was just thinking thankgod for that when at the very next target I go and miss range that as well! Good decision I hear you all cry - not.

It was around now that I started to feel like I wanted to go home, it was too hot for me, we'd only fired 12 shots! But anyway like fools we all carried on regardless I was fortunate that targets were falling Clives gun suddenly decided to shoot at least a kill high and Dave seemed to be caught out by the wind that seemed to make an appearence every so often. You couldn't really call it a wind cos you could hardly feel it but it'd move you across kill if you weren'y paying attention.

My next miss was when I got to the lake, target 45, ranged it around 65-70 yards. After ranging it for the third time at the same distance all I could do was shoot it on the max just for the pellet to strike high. The funny thing was the next, shorter, target which again I actually ranged three times as well also read 70 yards? What to do oh fu$% it give it fifty yards and down she went, wa-hey missus.

Target 47, the least said the better, again couldn't get a range below 65 yards so shot it on 50 but didn't see where it went. It must be said though I finished the first half of the course four down so was well happy - but still wanted to walk off the course and go home. It was that bad I 'd drunk two bottles of pop and had to go back to the car and get another!

Making our way back to lane 1, in the open part of the course it was clear that a lot of the shooters were having problems with the heat, as you were reguarly hearing people muttering 10 down, 12 down, or two down. What the f£$5, Two down Yes theres always some smart arse, well arses actually as Tim Finley and I na Taylor were reportedly two down.

Lanes 1 and 2 had to be treated with caution as you could see where people had been blown across, I was cautious with the first three but didn't engage brain on target 4, DOH!

It was around about this time that I stopped filling my sheet in with targets hit and ranges, basicly I couldn't be bothered it was two hot. I'll also appologise for the short article cos at around lane 8 we took the decision to basicly run round the rest of the course - it had broken the three of us. I finished the course 13 down - shite score, Clive finished on a 32 and Dave had a 35. We were just happy to be leaving the course.

Congratulations goes to the world champ Ian Taylor finishing on a superb 48 followed by Andy Calpin on a 46 with a group of five shooters on 45. See ya'll at Castle.

World Championships - Northern Ireland 2003.

If I was at all skeptical about going to the previous two grand prix's then how about this event! If someone had suggested to me when I started FT shooting four years ago that one day I'd be taking my gun across the water to compete in an FT event I'd have laughed them off the course.

The run up to the event hasn't been a smooth one what with all the rumor's being banded around, it must have been hard for the organizers hearing these, what with being on our doorstep's but also so far away and unable to answer in person. But to their credit's they've always been at the end of a phone line, for me, to answer any questions or quash any of these rumor's.

Speaking of the organizer's - how's this for service. As me and the old trout were coming across and making a holiday of the shoot we set off on the Saturday before the event, a couple of nights before we were due to set off we received a phone call from Peter O'Hagan saying that he'd arrange for someone to come and meet us at Newry and take us to the gun shop - who stored the gun prior to the event - also to the local tourist information center so we could have a packed week prior to competing (you've got to watch them across there as they'll do anything to try and wear you out so you can't compete!). Anyway as said earlier we were met just outside Newry by Peter's brother Brian who did all of the above and more, thankyou very much sir!

Enough of the bumph prior to the shoot let's move it along.

Practice day.

Well practice afternoon really, what can I say...................well I fired a couple of shots on the practice range! O.K. O.K. first look at the venue for this years world champs and wow! Mature woodland reminded me a lot of a cross between Redfearn's ground and Weston Park, it was also noticeable that there was a strongish wind gusting across the practice area, one second you'd need to give nothing at fifty yards then it'd take a good couple of inch.

Met up with a few of the other competitors who had decided to come across namely Stu Hancox, Little Kev, Dave Harrison, Bobby Banks, Nathan and Alan Reeves. Speaking of Stu it was good to sort out a few of our differences and it was also on the practice range that he asked me to represent England in the team event, nobody else would pay the 4 quid to be in the team!

Names that were being banded around to take the title were Stu Hancox- obviously, Nick Murphy, Dave Harrison and Ian Taylor.

Anyway after firing three or four shots, then having a brief conversation with Nathan Reeves about the merits of Daystate pellets - ask him about it, oh and ask him what his grandad was talking about on the practice range, it was time to head back to our digs!

Day 1

The first day dawned and what can I say I looked out of the bedroom window and I was disappointed, where was the wind! Everything seemed flat calm. By the time we'd got to the venue and were due to start though it had reared it's ugly head with avengence.

My shooting partner for the day was Martin Mueller from Germany luckily for me he'd decided to shoot first, unluckily for me we'd be drawn to start on Lane 9 later to be christened by me the Meadow of Doom!

All too soon the start was called and Martin got started hitting the first but missing the second, I followed suit. At the next lane Martin did the same again, I sat down with the wind blowing right to left, first shot give it an inch off the right edge of kill just to see it clear the kill, thankyou very much! Settling down for the second shot and suddenly it was noticeable that the wind had changed direction, O.K. give it just outside left hand edge I was lucky to hit the face plate as the wind hadn't changed at all. Oh well three down out of the first four!

Onto the next Lane and Martin nailed them, I however didn't. The wind did swap shot to shot, time to relax as I was now out of running for the title - not that I thought I was in the running you understand but at the end of the day you've got to be in it to win it. At the next lane I managed my first clear lane!

Walking onto the next part of the course it was time to reflect on what had just happened, maybe it was nerves or maybe it's the realization that whilst you may shoot reasonably well at club level moving upto the world stage is too big a leap, whatever it was it was now time to - give up and go home - naw, move onto the windy part of the course.

Paul Wilson who was now following me and Martin was three down and remarked that through the windy section he'd be happy to drop, come out of there, another three down, unfortunately for him he dropped three in the first six shots! Well out of character for him.

For me my nerves had now calmed down and I came through the windy part of the course having only dropped another two shots! The targets must have heard of my prowess on the early part of the course and just fallen over out of sympathy either that or they were laughing at me.

Onwards and downwards, walking back to the start of the course I was thinking if only I could hold onto seven it may give me a chance on a top ten position, alas it wasn't to be as I dropped a couple more targets along the easier part of the course, you numpty Matt. These lanes though were killers, it felt like you were bent double just to try and find a suitable shooting position, every breath you made lifted you off the target, spose it's my own fault for enjoying my food so much!, i.e. being a fat pie eating b!"£$%d

Realization kicked in again and I dropped another couple of targets, we were due to finish shooting the course in the Meadow of Doom!

Twelve down and into the Meadow of Doom - if I hang onto this score I could finish in the top 52, won't that be an achievement! Again it wasn't to be, the meadow certainly kicked my arse and I finished 14 down, the meadow stage had taken seven shots off me!

The only consolation was I'd beaten the German that I was up against, must add that on the final two shots I was under extreme pressure cos all the way round the course I'd been taking the mick of Chris Large and his 'wife', don't ask, Chris had finished 14 down when I was 14 down with one lane to go luckily I managed to drop them both COs I wouldn't have been able to live it down.

Top scores for the day were Stu Hancox and Tim Williams tied on 8 followed by a group of three shooters tied on nine - Dave Penmen, Eric Moe and Dave Harrison. What can I say other than I think after today's result I can justify the title of the column or maybe I should alter it to "Dunk....Dunk....Dunk....Dunk....Dunk....Dunk....Dunk....Dunk....Dunk....Dunk....Dunk....Dunk....Dunk....Dunk....Oh well there's always next week - Tales from the circuit." - what do you think?

Day 2

After shooting like a prat the previous day it was time to try and save face, this should be fun, not. The course had only had minor alterations made to it, a few of the targets had been moved further out and the kneeling and standing lanes had been swopped - oh good that means a 49 yard stander! Amanda had become firm friends with Paul James better half Di, she'll kill me if she reads this, the previous day, so they were off to find the nearest off license to get a bottle of wine or two whilst we were shooting.

I was paired up with Kevin Allen, whom I'd met at Redfearn's ground a while ago when he and Ken Hughes had come across to shoot the Anglo-American, so at least I knew it'd be a laugh even if I did get my arse kicked. Start lane was to be Lane 11 the lane after the meadow of doom.

The first mistake I made after getting to the firing line was asking Kevin if he wanted to shoot first or second, whilst I usually prefer to shoot last Kevin had decided he wanted to shoot last forcing me to shoot a clean set of targets, thankyou very much!

Luckily I read the wind correctly on these first two targets, the first went right to left the second left to right and they were only maybe 7 or 10 yards apart more or less side by side distance wise! Kevin nailed them both as well. At the second lane I was greeted by a target that no-one had got anywhere the killzone, one of the misses was around an inch off the kill to the left whilst the other had been over ranged but was a good inch off the right hand side of the kill - what to do? Age old adage - if in doubt give it nowt - which I did only for it to split on the right hand side creating a nice central hit on the kill zone and the target stayed up! Luckily for me Kevin did the same.

Moving onto the next couple of lanes I remained one down whilst Kevin missed both his standing shots, which he wasn't the least bit impressed with. My next miss came a couple of lanes further on, after a short walk - for those who were there it was the fifty yarder around Lane 15 on the first lane before you doubled back on yourself up to the windy part of the course. The shot felt right, it looked like there was wind on the target but unfortunately for me there wasn't any wind as the pellet never moved. Kevin nailed both of these.

Dave Penman following a couple of groups behind had me in stitches as he was teaching the German's how to swear in Scottish and they were teaching him to swear in German - which basically revolved around a universal word Schiz$%.

Anyway, back to the story. I remained 2 down over the next couple of lanes with Kev four down, compared with yesterday I was flying confidence was at an all time high - right up until around lane 19 when I missed one of the reducers, it was bleeding windy up there and it must have been all of twenty yards'ish.

Again confidence returned on the next couple of lanes right up to the final lane right up at the top of the windy section, it was blowing an absolute gale and admittedly the targets weren't very far but all I could think about was the previous day where I'd missed both of them. I don't know if it was a good thing or a bad thing as I was blown around the faceplate on the first shot but after twice getting within an inch of the kill I thought oh f£$% it and pulled the trigger and the target went, what! Trying the same on the second of the two targets I seem to remember that I just about managed to hit the faceplate.

After this lane I was four down, not bad if I could hold this through the rest of the windy section. Reality struck as I tried to get near the faceplate on the 50 yard stander, all I can say is I was around an inch off the faceplate when I snatched the trigger and down the target went, Kevin nearly fainted at seeing the target fall, me being my restrained quiet self just carried on without shouting and balling - honest - it's partner fell obediently. Anyway Kevin steps up and he's platting fog on the long stander pulls the trigger and down she falls - must be a duff target if both of us got it, he remarked that watch him miss the shorter of the two - which he dutifly did, numpty.

At Lane 25 I relaxed too much or was that nearly died due to lack of oxygen snatched the trigger and missed the first target but nailed the second, you were bent double trying to shoot it - stupid target anyway. Kevin nailed both of these so he made a target up on me, I was now four down and Kevin 7 or 8. Time for the long walk back to the start of the course.

After walking the ten or so miles back to the start of the course, O.K. maybe it was 91/2 miles, I was relieved to find a bit of a queue forming at least my heart rate would be given chance to slow a bit! By the time it was my turn to take the shots my heart rate must have dropped to around 120bpm so I was nice and relaxed when I took the first two shots. Thankgod my heart stopped at the right moment as I nailed both of them as did Kevin.

At the next lane a particularly nasty 50 odd yard target with the second being somewhat shorter but higher up on a tree branch, I managed to get the longer / harder shot but never saw the pellet strike the faceplate with the second, never mind or words to that effect flew round in my head as I stood up to let Kevin take his shots. Low and behold Kevin did exactly the same as me hit the longer but missed the shorter of the two targets.

The targets along the start of the course reminded me a lot of Weston Park in that they were extremely dark whilst outside we were in bright sunshine, O.K. they were set on a huge angle up the side of the hill so when you come to think of it they didn't have much in common with Weston Park after all - I'll shut up now and take some more medicine.

I faired quite well through this bottom part of the course only missing another target, however the meadow of Doom was ahead, so I wasn't confident of finishing six down I might even do the same as yesterday and miss seven targets up there, who know's?

The first targets in the meadow were stander's, oh good, I seem to remember the first being 40 yards and the other 30'ish yards so hardly gimme's, I was lucky Kevin wasn't. I as just thinking maybe I'd tamed the meadow when DDDDDDUUUUUUNNNNKKKKKK a 45 yarder with no visible wind decided that there was some after all and deposited the pellet over the opposite side of the kill.

Moving swiftly on to the final couple of targets I was on a high right up until I range found them at 55 and 50 ish yards, there was misses to the right, misses to the left, oh soddit give it nowt and down they both went, damn I'm good - just maybe I could finish in the top 52 after all!

Looking at the score cards I'd finished seven down whilst Kevin finished twelve. Boy was I relieved at missing seven. Walking back to the car's I cajoled Kevin into coming and meeting the wife and we spent the next hour educating him in Barnsley speak - poor lad, I bet he was glad when we went.

The overall leader after Day 2 was Stu Hancox he was 14 down with a group of three shooters two targets behind, would you have bet against Stuart not retaining the title for a third time? I know I wouldn't.

Later this evening was arrange a night of food, entertainment and drinking - for further information see Paul Wilson!

Day 3

Day 3 dawned and unbeknown to me I was lying in 8 position, it's a good job really as I would have probably needed the toilet at every lane! Speaking of toilets, it appeared that Paul Wilson had consumed one or three too many drinks the previous night as he couldn't focus on anything so decided it would be a good idea to stop in bed for a couple more hours as he was the one due to drive back to the ferry port that night.

Anyway I was pleased to find I was partnered up with Paul James, a club mate of mine also better half of DI the drunkard and Mike Pries Walther designer extraordinaire. Now the worrying thing was that I regard Paul James as one of the best spring gun shots in the country so it's always a bit embarrassing when he kick's your arse with the old boinger, he was flying with it as well seven targets clear of his nearest rival the umpteen times springer world champion Stephen Garrett.

Starting on the same lane as we started on the previous day I was hoping for a repeat performance of the previous days if not better, but it was always in the back of my mind about the first day I might add. Paul decided to shoot first then me and finally Mike.

Paul looked a tad nervous as he approached the first couple of targets and I can't remember if he came off the lane hitting one or having missed both targets - look to be fair I've all on remembering my own name let alone how the people have shot who I was up against. I managed to get the first two targets as did Mike.

At the next lane Paul managed one but missed the other as did me and Mike, for me the shot felt good but unfortunately the pellet decided to make me look like a numpty. Moving on to a couple of standers, Paul was still missing more than he'd hit, I went up got both targets swiveled round to decide how to climb down form the shooting position and caught a rock with my great lumbering foot. As most of the lanes in this section were set up an incline, to get from the marshaling positions to the shooting position, the rock gathered momentum and all we could all do was watch the rock tumble down the hill and clout poor old Paul's gun - I was gutted. We offered to let him get his gun set up on a target to make sure everything was all right but he'd hear nothing of it.

At the next lane I felt a right pr£$%, anyway Paul settled into the first target and promptly dropped it and then the next, this continued for the next two or three lanes, must make a mental note - when having difficulties with gun hit with nearest rock! I was still feeling guilty, even though Paul was now hitting things, and I missed another in this small section a 50 yard gimme - I could see there wasn't any wind on it but still gave it some and the pellet landed on the cross. It was also at this lane where Amanda' tried to teach Mike some Barnsley saying's ("AhcudateascabbbbyyyHosandgubackfortjocki" - which in normal language is "I could eat a scabby horse and then go back for the jockey!", so now you know - I'm glad you do COs Mike couldn't understand any part of it.

Moving upto the first part of the windy section the first lane were a set of kneelers, I managed the short one but missed the long one - never mind I've never been any good at these anyway. In this windy section I was flying right up until the last lane before you doubled back on yourself, got the first but missed the second, haven't got a clue where it went - it's the only target I missed on all three days!

Recapping on the scores I was now 4 down, Paul about ten and Mike was maybe 6 down I'm guessing at my partner's scores COs I don't really know. My next miss was right at the next lane the short reducer, it was another of those targets you knew the pellet was going to end up going straight but you end up going for a split wobble at the wrong moment and pull the the cross hairs a pellets width out of the kill, boy was I impressed with that shot at least it proved one thing.............my range finding was spot on.

It was after this miss that I thought ,oh f£$% it just enjoy the shoot, if you manage a top ten position excellent if not so what! so all I could do was turn around and laugh which totally baffled Mike COs all he could say was "What is this?, why you laugh when miss?!", he was as baffled with the laughter as the entire German team were when Richard Beaugie went up to collect his Veteran's trophy at the previous years world champs and we all went BBBBBBAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!.

Walking back to the start of the course we bumped in to Paul Wilson who had finally surfaced he didn't look too bad, at least he could focus now although when he called me Dave I did begin to wonder.

What can I say about the start of the course other than I hate shooting kneelers up hill, as I missed the first shot but still managed to turn around and laugh about it. It was now time to dig deep and stop shooting like a pillock, O.K. maybe that works for other people but not me I just continued having a laugh as I now felt like I was way out of it - so at least the pressure was well and truly off, even more so when Ian Taylor came by and said he had finished five down!

Over the next couple of lanes you could tell the pressure had got to Paul he'd dropped around 15 targets (time to hit the gun with a brick - or was it hit Paul?) If I'd been in his position, well I don't think I'd ever be that good to be in the position he started day 3 on, but if I had been I'd have chucked the teddy out big time.

Anyway moving up to the field of dreams rather the meadow of doom I was still holding 6 down, so well chuffed, right up until the fourth target - you know the one where you nail the long one on the lane but the short sticks two fingers up at the kill as it flys by. Seven down with the hardest part of the meadow to come.

Bumped into splitter Reeves where he told me he'd finished three down - top score for the three day event - I was well chuffed for him I told him the Daystate pellets were the best! "But I've shot Ripley's?", "No" I said "If it hadn't been for the fact that the two I gave you on the practice range to help clean your barrel out with then you'd have struggled, honest!", his reply is unrepeatable.

Anyway three lanes to go and I needed to nail them to put in a half decent score, luckily for me I nailed them all to finish seven down, Mike finished ten down whilst Paul finished 22 down he'd blown it unfortunately on the last day still as I always say DUNK........DUNK...... Oh well there's always next week.

Ian Taylor had done it and it couldn't have been won by anyone more deserving, well it could me but I must learn to not shoot like a prat, Nathan Reeves had retained his Junior title, Dave Harrison took the veteran's, Davinia Wainwright took the ladies title and England - which I'm proud to say I shot for - took the team title. Congratulations to all.

All I can add is thanks to all involved in the NIFTA setup for the worlds it certainly was a damn good event with one of the best courses I've ever shot.

Rumor's are that there is a two day event to be scheduled in the future and if it goes ahead all I can say is if you've never been to Ireland go for it you won't regret it.

G.P.7 Och Aye the Noo Scotland

The run up to this event didn't go smoothly at all, I was due to go with Paul W because my better half had decided that she didn't want to have to travel all the way up there as we are off to Ireland on Saturday the 26th, waaaaaahhhhhheeeeeeyyyyy Jilly Jolly times - ooh I'm going to Barbados, well Analong, Ireland.

As I was saying, I was due to be going with Paul W but he ended up being ontop of the rosta for work so he couldn't make it, so what to do? Tell Bainesy that I couldn't shoot for the team, then Cyril "ex Huddersfield now Scottish git" Dyson started badgering me to come up to bonny Scotland so in the end I persuaded some idiot, o.k. a damn fine chappie, in the name of Russ Spencer to go with me and we'd stop at Cyril's for the night - which was a bit worrying bearing in mind that the men from up there all wear Skirts.

Eventually arriving at Scotland at 8'ish - many hours after setting off from home, o.k. around 5 1/2 hours, as we took a slight diversion, we were greeted by Cyril on the clubs quad bike, luckily he was dressed normally, he was off painting targets it was special paint they were using but more of that later. For the saturday night they'd arranged a SAR - Sporting Air-Rifle - shoot, to be shot with open sighted BSA Meteors with a bottle as first prize to be followed up with a stovie sp? supper.

What a laugh we had, many of the competitors just couldn't get it up, ask Cyril, however one man who could was Russ "Can't See" Spencer. "So how'd you do it Russ?", "Well I just pointed it at the blurred target and pulled trigger. The shooters I was with kept telling me i hit the kills", so a man who admits he's got bad eye sight won an open sighted shooting competition, Russ was just hoping his luck would hold out for the FT shoot in the morning! After devouring the Stovies, don't have a clue what was in em but boy they were really tasty and drinking the bottle of whatever it was it was time to make tracks to Cyril's place. I don't know how they teach em to drive in the police but christ I couldn't keep up with him!

Arriving at Cyril's 2 minutes later, well it seemed like it, we met his wife did the guided tour of his house and sat down watching Rambo drinking ice cold Beck's and just generally chit chatting away. 3 Beck's later and the Glenfidick came out, now Cyril being the tight git that he is gave us all a small measure - yeah right imagine a goblet similar in size to a Tea cup that you get from the sarnie van full of this Glenfidick - also bear in mind I don't drink!

At this point I'm thinking oh my god how the hell am I going to drink this, then noticing that Rambo had finished and, well what can I say, a film of a rather adult nature started. Pour old Helen was desperately trying to get the channel changed but all Cyril could say is "There's two girls kissing and you want to change the channel!?!". Anyway after downing the Glenfidick, Cyril manages three to my one, and more kissing by the girls it was time to rest our weary heads as we were up at 6a.m. - four hours time!

6a.m. arrived and with it a wake up knock at the door, boy did I feel rough - I now know why I don't drink very often, a couple of litres of Orange juice and I was still not looking forward to the day ahead.

Arriving at the ground, after yet another terrifying drive trying to keep up with Cyril - good job he wasn't in the golf, we arrived just in time for breakfast, bacon sarnies - they were good but not as good as the stovies! Only three hours to go before the start of the comp!

I'd better fast forward to the start of the comp or else we're going to be here for a long time. Got to mention Dorian, god he looked rough and for once it wasn't self induced!

All too soon it was time to make our way to our respective start lanes I was unfortunate to have been put with Cyril - time to go off on a tangent. Bearing in mind Cyril is the course layer outerer - yes I meant to put layer outerer - you'd expect him to know where your lanes are wouldn't you, no he didn't so after walking the first couple of lanes of the wrong part of the course we had to walk back on ourselves and then right to the end - you can tell he's ex-yorkshire we're never any good with directions!

Back to the story, our start lane was target 21 which looked a good 50 odd yarder and the second looked slightly shy of 50 - it's always easier to state this when someone's been around with a laser to tell you the distances. Anyway joining me and Cyril was Jenny Taylor, wife of - for how much longer we don't know if she keeps on beating her husband - Graham, Jenny decided to go first then Cyril and finally me. We actually did it the correct way by asking first Jenny to select the hand that held the pellet then Cyril, we wouldn't cheat Jenny would we?

As the start was called Jenny settled in and proceeded to miss the first target but hit the second, Cyril not to be out done did the same it was time to give the first target extra care. Luckily for me down it went as did the second, how they fell I'll never know as I was visibly shaking - it's the last time I go drinking with Cyril!

Onto the next lane a set of standers, oh good! Jenny and Cyril struggled on these recording a double DDDDUUUNNNKKK whilst I managed to drop low on the first, it was 52 yards afterall, whilst I got a good connection on the second.

The bottom part of the course was very similar to the last time I had shot here, basicly lanes chopped out from a plantaion of Christmas trees, with targets set high and low using all the angles available - a very well designed course I might add, so congratulations to the designer. There was also a strange wind moving through the bottom side of the course that kept changing direction and ferocity you definitely had to be on the ball if you wanted to be succesful here.

Moving on we now entered a part of the course that seemed to be full of reducers, all was well for me up until target 27 - yes one of the reducers - that split on the right hand edge of the kill, two down and I've only fired 7 pellets.......it doesn't bode well. In my defence I'd got the shakes, I'm definitely not drinking ever again..............'another cider dear?'.....'Oh go on then'.

Where was I, oh yes, I was just thinking about the two misses when DDDDDDUUUUUUNNNNNNKKKK, brain fart, and I miss another. I want to go home. Time to concentrate, 3 down after 10 shots, have a drink of pop, oh christ who's drunk all my pop, grab Eric on the quad bike and send him back for some water.

After being determined to string a few shots together things did get a bit better, not much, as the next ten targets all fell obediently. One question for the scottish contingent reading this, where did you get that paint from was it specially made to go crazed or what? Looked way cool.

Unfortunately we'd now got to another reducer lane and yet again I split on the right hand side, it was time to do something that I wouldn't reccomend doing - but it seemed logical at the time........honest........it was time to adjust the windage across! It helped cos at the next reduced target, target 45, I followed the pellet all the way into the centre. Talking about centres, what can I say about Cyril 'Poxy Splitter' Dyson, he must have had about two splits that all fell obediently, o.k. so had I but I'm writing this so I'll make out that Cyril was the poxy one, plus mine were all dead centre splits!

By now we'd arc'ed round the bottom part of the course, the water was still nowhere to be seen so we put in a radio request and he dutifly brought it, must be said far better service than you normally get at any G.P. down south.

The final four targets - of this section - loomed, two kneelers set on posts and two sitters set out on a fence. I'd just watched Jenny and Cyril fluff these shots so feared the worst, I gave the first an edge of kill and that's where the pellet stayed whilst on the second I wobbled across the kill and down she went, wwwwaaaahhheeyyy!

The pressure was on, on the last two targets of this section, as first Jenny then Cyril hit both targets, when I sat down the wind reared it's ugly head - well actually it seemed to die down a bit but I thought I'd make it sound like I had the harder shots - I had a good shot on the first whilst the second was one of those dead centre splits! Nathan if you're reading this I've told you before buy a Daystate and all your splits go! I was now 5 down, Cyril 6 and Jenny 7.

Time for the long hike back to the start of the course. It was noticeable, walking from the bottom part of the course to the top, how much stronger the wind got it would definitely be a case of giveing it a few kills up here! This top part of the course was set more in the open and with that strengthening wind would prove testing.

Targets 1-4 were set right at the end of the narrow lane that we had just walked up and boy was it blowing through, when I sat down and took that first shot I was around 2 kills off the edge of the killzone and luckily the tree swayed away from the crosshair as the pellet only just snook in, time to give the second target just a little bit more, this one didn't move as much and snook in the left hand side! Targets three and four most of the misses were on the left so I though dare I give it nowt, luckily I did and the targets fell obediently. No dead centre splits there.......................honest.

Things started to go well again for me and the targets continued to fall right up until target 10, oh and then another poxy kneeler didn't go for me - target 12 - it helps if when you move the crosshair across the target and out of the kill you don't pull the trigger..........must remember that.

It had to happen sooner or later a DOUBLE DDDDDUUUUNNNNKKK lane 8, everything felt right for both shots but unfortunately the pellets had other ideas drifting out to the right. I was on for a reasonable score before I did that you numpty.

The final four lanes loomed and I was determined that I wasn't going to miss any more amazingly I didn't to finish nine down, with Cyril finishing on a 37 and Jenny on a 38. Leaving the course I was met by Little Kev doing his information gathering of scores, he'd managed a 36.

Top score on the day was by Dave Harrison with a 45 Closely followed by Russ Spencer on a 44 superb shooting. It also seems Russ, after showing his prowess with the open sighted meteors, has been asked to represent Scotland in the Home Internationals - assuming he doesn't qualify for the england team.

Moral to the story is don't drink Glenfidick! Althought it did give me at least five dead centre splits..............HHHHHMMMMMMM.

G.P. 6 Emley Moor

I must admit to not looking forward to this event at all, it's been all go recently what with sorting everything out to goto Ireland for the world champs, practising for the aforementioned event, a hectic work schedule at the moment oh and it's always in the back of your mind that all those bleedin up hill shots at Emley are going to cripple you!

Anyway arriving nice and early it was a bit of a surprise to find many of the competitors were already there, even more surprising was the fact that the mornings session looked fully booked and I hadn't pre-booked - it's not fair I want to shoot in the morning and no-one will let me shoot so I'm going to stamp my feet until someone puts me in the first group - stop the press rewind a mo, pre-booked - but luckily for me Trev had already booked me in so there was no need for a paddy after all.

Emley has got one hell of a ground basically a woodland setting with a wide variety of options when laying out courses but generally 90% of these are uphill. The place also suffers from the weirdest wind, no I'm not talking about Wayne after a night on the ale, it's one of those winds that don't feel much but it'll take you straight across the kill if you're not careful also swapping sides at the drop of the hat, come to think of it it does sound like Wayne.

On the plinking range things were not looking too good, the day previous up at Ponty both myself and Ian Taylor had been having mega problems with our guns (mine was getting progressively faster and faster, even though I was having to add lots to the height - you work that out cos I can't, whilst Ian T's was dropping the odd shot a couple of inch's low) all good fun. Anyway as I was saying my gun was still getting faster and faster so at 8:35 it was time to take the gun to pieces to drop the power. Now normally I don't mess with gun's, Cos I don't know what I'm doing, but surely even I can't mess up altering the power? O.K. I'll admit to altering the power, then wondering why the readout on the chrono was getting higher, try turning the allen key the other way, ooohhh never thought of that!

At around 9'ish we were called for the shooters briefing, luckily just as Trevor was shouting for everyone my final shot registered 775 on the chrono, not having time to put a shot on the sighting in range it was going to be a case of suck it and see!

Starting on lane 21 I met up with an old mate Steve Grimshaw, not seen him and his Ripley sideborad for years - well since the European's anyway. We were busy chewing the fat when we were also joined by John, sorry I couldn't remember your last name.

Time to draw the straws to see which order we'd be shooting in! Steve lost and decided to go first then John and finally me bringing up the rear. Anyway by the time it was my turn to shoot all sorts of things were going through my head, what's the rest of the team going to think when I try to explain why I finished on 3ex50, why didn't I miss the shooters briefing and set the gun up properly, what's for tea?

Anyway what to do on this first target, for once I managed to think logically, well I've knocked the power down somewhat so I'll need to add a few clicks on, what's the range of the first target - 50 yards'ish - o.k. give it 50 yards and add a few clicks at least on the clean targets I'll be able to see where I missed. Slip the trigger, got a bollocking, sorry about the use of profane language, telling off the other week for saying I pulled the trigger so from now on it's slip the trigger, bang goes the gun and I follow the pellet all the way to the target and watch the target fall - Oh my god! Anyway move onto the next target, range it, give it the same number of clicks and down that target goes - maybe I don't have to worry about making excuses after all.

Moving round these first couple of lanes, o.k. I was starting on the back end of the course but you know what I mean, everything was going swimmingly the wind seemed fairly consistent all I was giving was my first mil-dot on whichever edge of the kill zone I thought the wind was moving across. Sorry, just reread the last paragraph and it sounds very big headed and I don't mean it to be it's just all of the lanes felt comfortable to shoot from and the targets were falling, for a change.

Stop the press, it had to happen sooner or later, I got to the final lane on the course Lane 25 (our fifth lane) and I just couldn't get comfy, the targets were shortish range (43 and a 47 yarder) but that shooting position, christ I was uncomfortable. Also I might add that I hadn't been paying any attention to the fact we'd moved round so what wind there was, was coming straight at the firing position. My first definitely pulled shot stayed on the cross at three O'Clock the other went somewhere else, I never saw it.

Hiking back to the start of the course, what a hike it was, there seemed to be plenty of DUUUUUUNNNNNNKKKKKSSSSS happening which pleased me no end, just as long as I don't finish last today I'd be happy. 3/4's of an hour later we reached the start of the course, I need to start exercising seriously. The unfortunate thing about Lane 1 was that it was clear and Steve had to shoot, the exercise must have done him good as over the next 10 shots he only missed 1 of them, jammy git. Over these ten shots the breeze seemed to die a little and most of the time I was giving inside the left edge which seemed to work as I stayed clear.

We were now at the bottom of the steps, this is where I usually fall to pieces, in previous years everything I ever do at this point the wind/pellet does the exact opposite luckily for me the curse of the corner had jumped onto Steve as for some reason after that run of hits he went to pieces. Meanwhile me and John soldiered on. Speaking of John, on the first ten targets he scored 4ex10 the next 10 he had a 7ex10.

Things, as I said were still looking good for me right up until target 19 the shot felt good but the wind wrong sided me, ho hum! Steve was struggling over this ten shots whilst John scored another 7ex10. Dave Penman was having a nightmare on the lane in front as he was now saying he was 15 down, Des Edwards, his partner, was also beginning to struggle after doing so well over the first part of the course.

Moving swiftly on, the shoot did seem to flow through rather well without too many interruptions, I was still in Jammy git mode all the way up to the standers. You must remember these The first was way up a tree 32'ish yards away whilst the other was only half way up the tree around 30 yards off. The first shot felt good but wasn't, something to do with the prat behind the butt dropping the forend as he takes the shot, engage brain next time Matthew, luckily the second shot fell.

Steve at this point was pulling his hair out the god's had definitely turned against him whilst John had another 7ex10! The final ten targets loomed, so quick I hadn't realised I was 4 down, rumours were rife that there were a lot of high scores kicking about Ian Taylor was four down with ten to go, Nick Murphy and Tim Williams were proving just how good their Zenith rifles are - nothing to do with their shooting abilities you understand.

I must admit to dreading this final set of targets, mainly because a fire was smouldering just off the course and every so often the wind would pick up and deposit the contents of it's smoke across the course thus making visibility zero - look I know the fire didn't make a blind bit of difference but it upset one of the shooters so I'm putting it in here o.k. just for a wind up!

Where was I oh the final set of ten targets, just my luck they contained a kneeling lane, I never wanted to finish 4 down anyway! By the time we reached the kneelers I was more surprised than anybody at being still 4 down, even more surprising was the fact I left the lane still four down!?!?! Unfortunately at the very next lane I thought stupidly I was a reasonable shot and whilst all way through the course I'd been giving the first dot on target 38 I put the dot in the centre of the target and proceeded to watch the pellet fly across the kill and out the other side, you numpty.

The final two shots flashed by as I was still a bit peeved with being a numpty and I finished on 45ex50 well chuffed. Steve finished on a 20 and John on a 32 after scoring a 4,7,7,7,7! Coming off the course to find out I was lying in second place behind Tim Williams with Nick Murphy, Ian Taylor, Dave Sargeant and James Woodhead also on 45's. It didn't look like we'd stay in second place as the wind had all but disappeared by the afternoon, well it looked that way but the blank faces of Trev Ryan and Russell Grew showed it hadn't.

By the end of the day I'd finished second so went home a happy bunny, O.K. I was in a shoot-off with Nick Murphy and Ian Taylor. Ian Taylor won the shoot-off with Nick Murphy second and me third. O.K. maybe I'm skipping over this a bit too quickly Nick was shooting a right handed gun Left handed in the shoot-off and he kicked my backside, there you go everybody happy - just don't tell anybody O.K.

It's been pointed out as well, due to my results over the past couple of shoots that I should change the name to something more appropriate along the lines of "Poxy Bleeder shoots again" or "That big headed NEFTA t$£T's column" well please be patient with me cos I'm sure normal service will return pretty soon.


One final thing I've just been reading over my previous years reports, what does everyone think of the format of the Grand Prixs this year? All I'll say is that last years reports certainly seemed a lot funnier so there must have been more banter going on. It's also more noticeable that this year after people have shot they slope off home straight away, we seem to be missing the social side of the sport and without this we may just find the sport continuing to decline until the predicted death of FT occurs, just a thought.

G.P. 5 Dorset

Was looking forward to this shoot for a long time as we were going to make a long weekend of it and also, Amanda had told me, I was going to visit some long lost relatives who live down south on the Monday. Anyway all too soon the weekend came and the first hurdle Amanda wasn't feeling too well, women you can't live with'em and you can't shoot'em.

After coaxing Amanda into the old jalopies and trundling along at just below 70m.p.h. speed limit, honest occifer, we arrived at Bournemouth and it was bloody hot. Now me and heat don't exactly got together, where as Amanda can sit out in the sun all day long so guess who decides what we're doing for Saturday, you got it the other half! Six hours later on gas mark 5.........

On the Sunday I felt a bit rough and wasn't looking forwards to the shoot especially when everything started to go wrong, firstly the breakfast was late, so that made us late for setting off, we then realised we were about an hour away from the shoot not the half hour that the dear wife had estimated, "well it's only three squares on the map.....", "yes dear"!

Eventually made it to the shoot around 8:40, again - honest we stuck to the speed limits occifer can't imagine why the radar gun says we were doing 70 in a 40 zone. As I was saying we made it to the shoot around 8:40a.m. to be greeted by two cars, well 1 van and 1 car, where is everybody had we got the wrong place? Getting out of the car we realised that the shoot was a couple of hundred yards away but as the standing for the cars was on a grass banking a couple of the shooters had wussed out and daren't park there cause they wouldn't get out again, wimps. Not me I had confidence in my driving ability - more of this foolhardiness later. Time to set off for the shoot again.

Arriving at the shoot around 8:42 a.m. we were greeted by the usual suspects, or was that the usual nutters who are daft enough to travel to the far reaches of the U.K. just to fire 50 shots and then pack up and go home? I'll let you decide.

As there was now less than 20 minutes before the start of the shoot it would now make sense to go check the zero on the gun, well to any normal person it would have but as usual I decided to just sit back and chat, oh and go and book in - found out that the BFTA had realised I was a crap shot afterall and I had been demoted to A grade - can't I go back down to C grade please I don't like playing with the big boys!

Around 8:59 I decided it would be stupid to have come all this way not to check the gun out, disaster struck half way between the car and the plinking range as the shoot briefing was called, ho hum or words to that effect. Been a few rule changes since the last shoot, namely that stop watches will be used if not then the person holding the stop watch will lose their shots from that lane, can't wait to see who falls foul of that one first! Anyway time to get to the first lane and start.

The course itself was set out in a small open woodland, to be honest it didn't look too hard a course until you factored in the breeze coming through, the key to this shoot would definitely be to keep on top of what it was doing at all times. I was due to start on lane 11 and finish on a pair of kneelers - oh good. Greeting me as I arrived at lane 11 was Tony Boucher, who was all right as southerners go especially when I found out he was only a token southerner as he is originally from Leeds and only moved darn sarth for work.

The start of the shoot was called and I asked Tony if he wanted to go first, which he decided he would, thank god as I didn't fancy having to batter a northerner into submission just to make him shoot first. For once I actually started off quite well, Tony was struggling a bit but at least we were having a laugh. My first miss was lane 15, target 30 I was steady on the left hand side of the target just waiting to move the cross hairs across to where I wanted them when, bang DDDDDDUUUUUNNNNKKKKKKKK! the pellet hit the plate exactly where the cross hairs were, life's a bitch aint it. My next miss came soon after with a similar shot I was just trying to place the cross hairs when I had a brain fart and pulled the trigger, maybe my trigger is set a tad too light after all. Oh well two down in the first nine lanes - not a good start by anyones standards.

Regaining composure, honest I didn't chuck the teddy out of the pram for a change, I managed to hit the next three targets before yet again dropping another shot. Looking back it was my standers that were letting me down I mean that's two of the three misses were standers, need to practice them or maybe it's time to try a glove?

Tony was now stringing a few together indeed he'd got the two standers I'd missed, Little Kev walked by with a cheesy grin on his face - obviously on a flyer- he was three down too while his partner Nathan "you'd do a lot better with a Daystate" Reeve was clear. Still a long way to go though.

Moving further up the wood the course designers had obviously put a lot of thought and effort into building it as some of those back targets were extremely hard to range find due to them being silhouetted by the sunlight. I managed to string a few more shots together, giving the back ones around a quarter inch outside the kill and anything below 47 yards edge of kill, all was flowing well until the last lane.

Now the last bleeding lane, a reducer set at around 35 yards up a tree and it's partner 53 yards at the back of the wood, which do you think I'd miss? Yeah that's right the poxy short one. The wind had changed direction now and was moving left to right so there I was on a 35 yard target, not much wind so just give it inside edge, slip the trigger and the pellet lands at 3 O'Clock about an inch away from the right hand edge of the kill! How much wind is there? Ignoring the fact that I'm a complete and utter numpty I promptly gave the back one a quarter of an inch outside kill and it dutifully falls, go figure.

Walking back to the start of the course 4 down I was reasonably happy, well no I was well f"£$%d off, two bleeding standers and a close one dropped what a tosser. As I walked by Little Kev I asked how he was doing now and all he could say was he was well out of it whilst Nathan was flying. Arriving back at the first lane we were greeted by a shortish shoat and another silhouetted one, to be honest I was still reeling after missing the short shot on the final lane and didn't take much care on the dark silhouetted target and promptly miss range found it, so now five down oh good! Must say whilst I'm on about the first couple of lanes it was nice to be able to sit down on benches whilst your partner shot!

Back to the shooting, again I strung a few shots together again only to be caught out by the wind swapping sides at the last minute and moving the pellet across. All I I could think of now was I wonder whats for dinner, god arn't these fifty shot courses long - maybe we could organise to have a sarny van half way round a course for all future G.P's? I was still thinking of food at target 11 when hmm bacon sarnies, steak sarnie, DUNK, fish and chips, what the f£$k! That'll teach me for not concentrating.

The end was now in sight, well those bloody kneelers were, it shouldn't be allowed you know kneelers on the last lane o.k. maybe for everyone else but not for me. Concentrating on the task in hand, instead of food, saw me through to the end of the course to finish on a 43 Tony finished on a superb 25. Trev Ryan, one of my Daystate team members on the lane previous to us, finished on a 41. Top scores in the morning was 45 followed by quite a few on 44.

In the afternoon Nick Murphey put us all in our place by finishing on a 47 closely followed by that big ugly midland geeza Neil Daniels on a 45. Time to leave, well try to as I wheel spun my way up the grass field in a Colin Mcrae stylie - at least I managed to get out.

Oh almost forgot, visited the relatives on the Monday at Monkey World Amanda's been spending too much time with them soft southern shandy........

Speaking of which


G.P. 4 Kent Woodsmen

Couple of things happened at this shoot, firstly was without the usual co-pilot - because of this I had to change from the morning session to the afternoons session and then changed the plans at the last minute, yet again, and decided to drive down to the shoot in the morning - there's nothing like being indecisive!

Had shot Kent once before, back in my first year of competition, all I could remember was all the stoppages due to the trains on the track running along the back of the course, that and the bloody long drive but hey-ho it's what we choose to do as a hobby.

Anyway back to the co-pilot, Paul Wheatley was charged with navigating the green flying machine down to deepest darkest Kent, whilst he did do a magnificent job I still prefer to have a female blonde haired navigator - the mini skirt just doesn't suit him!

Arriving bright and early, whilst the navigator had got us straight there the pilot had miscalculated the flight time - my excuse is I'm used to getting lost having a massive argument then getting beat up by her in doors, around 9:45 it was time to hit the, don't be silly cos I aint going to say the practice range, it was time to hit the sarnie van. Suitably refreshed it was now time to walk the firing line and dish some abuse out. Oh nearly forgot whilst I have no control over my other half it's good to see John Briscoes got Julie well trained, when me and Paul made our order at the sarnie van it reminded Julie that John needed a drink so being the under the thumb type of person that she is, she dutifully grabbed a bottle of drink and walked off in the direction of the firing line - got to remember to ask him what his secret is!

The course at Kent is basically woodland split by a large field, so it basely can be described as a bloody long walk! Weather wise it was red hot, but it did look like there may be showers later on, there was also a gusting breeze coming across the course left to right.

Bumping into Dave Baines and Trev Ryan their score cards told how hard a course it was - seem to recall both around four down. Monty was two down so he was having a flyer, Little Kev came by and he wasn't best pleased at all he'd dropped around ten and still had the start of the course to do. Time to goto the plinking range and try to work out an action plan!

Back at the car the weather seemed to take a turn for the worse, it cooled down went dark time to put the leggings on cos it's gonna rain! I'd literally just put my leggings on and a waterproof top and the sun comes out. Time to strip back off and the sun disappears again - oh sod it if it rains it rains!

Up at the plinking range, the conditions didn't seem too bad, not bad if you call giving it nothing with the first shot, needing two kills of wind on the second then nothing again with the third. After a bout ten shots of it repeating this it was time to admit defeat and try to come to terms with doing a 300 and odd mile round trip to shoot like a second rate numpty. Time for some more fodder.

Top score from the morning session was 44, with Trev Ryan and Tim Finley on 43's. All too soon it was time to start, all was well until I realised that I was shooting a lane behind Nathan Reeve - I'd had enough of him at the Anglo, just kidding Nathan. It got even worse when Nathan's granddad was on the same lane as him so I was volunteered to shoot with him and young Tom McDonald - Tom's alright as southerner's go! Starting lane 6, the last lane in the top part of the field for those that were there, the first two targets fell, however on the next lane Nathan had a lucky splitter, whilst I didn't. Didn't want to clear the dam course anyway.

At the next lane Nathan had another splitter that went whilst me and Tom again didn't, all this way to end up on 50% ho-hum. The next lane went for me, wa-hey another clear lane maybe it won't be 50% after all whoops spoke too soon as target 19 stayed put. I don't get it on lane 9 get the short one then the long one (gave both around an inch out of the kill), next lane target 19 visibly shorter (but not by much) the wind gets up so give the same as the previous lane and the pellet goes straight. Little Tom was struggling a bit he was missing them high, but he soon sorted it by dropping a few clicks off - he'll be a damn fine shooter one day just needs to slow down a bit and use the time available to him on a lane.

Moving further into the bottom wood the wind certainly wasn't as strong but it was still gusting enough to push the pellets across the kill so it was far from easy. I went and dropped another couple of targets, 24 and 25, gave one wind that didn't need it and didn't give the other one enough - boy isn't FT good. Still wasn't doing too bad at 5 down, Tom was around 50% and Nathan - the little git - was three down I seem to remember.

I must admit now that the splitters had now passed to me and whilst Nathan dropped another target I had one or two fortunate splitters , Nathan if you're reading this if you had a Daystate you too could have as many splitters as me!

The luck did leave me on target 30 as an unfortunate gust physically pushed me out of the kill. Trev Ryan turned up with Pauline Baines now I usually start to shoot well when Pauline's around but she was whitening on about fly's in front of the targets that told her whether it was windy or not and I just couldn't keep a straight face so at target 34 whilst looking for fly's I couldn't see any gave it wind and the pellet flew straight! Now seven down and Trev was saying it was still a good score if I could keep it, Nathan was also seven down, see he's not a machine he's a man - sorry dropped into Rocky 4 mode, you the scene where Rocky cuts Ivan Drago's face, o.k. I'll shut up now.

Moving swiftly on, Pauline was again jabbering about the fly's and how they tell her about wind, Trev had abandoned us and Tom well he was just encouraging her. I managed to quell the laughs for a few more lanes until target 41 when it just went the opposite way on me, f$%%ing wind. Put it to the back of your mind target 42 just a walk in the park, remember the last one came out right slip the trigger and DDDDDDDDUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNKKKKKKKK! No can I take it again, I want my mummy! Nine down, Nathan eight, Tom was flying since Pauline came along and all the targets were falling for him.

Lane 25 beckoned and as I watched Nathan miss one of the targets I thought right must give that some respect, all I can say is honest it wasn't a splitter, Nathan may say otherwise. The scores for me and Nathan were 9 apiece it was looking like Tom would put in a good one as well.

Time to put in a request, if a shoot has a long walk can we have a 4*4 hired to transport us from one end of the course to the other please. Arriving back at lane one it hit me how dark it actually was in the top part of the trees but at least you could tell how sheltered it was up there.

Once Nathan had recovered from the walk, I was well chuffed I've found someone as unfit as me, Nathan began dropping the targets big style and it looked like we were odds on to finish 9 down, well that was until the poxy stander. 30 odd yards the shot felt steady, just trip the trigger, and lean forward drop the front of the gun so much that you hit the bottom of the plate and this is from someone who prefers standing shots, you northern monkey!

Luckily for me or rather unluckily for Nathan he'd also missed the stander so we were both ten down, Nathan was hoping to stay ten down to see if he could qualify for the showdown. Disaster struck for him as he miss ranged another target, to be honest he said he'd miss ranged it and it wasn't until I saw a pellet mark high on the plate that I thought yeah he might be telling the truth but the problem was the parallax ring on my scope was telling me it was 55 yards! What to do, it was time for inspiration o.k. it was clutch at straws time, range find the target number board.

Luckily for once him upstairs must have been smiling down on me as it worked and I re-ranged it 51 - 52 yards took the shot and dropped it, thank you. Finishing ten down I was reasonably happy, Nathan wasn't too chuffed with an eleven but star of the day was young Tom finishing on a superb 26, do me a favour Tom and get shooting that CRX so we can have you in the team!

All in all not a bad result bearing in mind the top shot beat me by 10%, I'd dropped two standers and the short one up the tree. Nathan got a bit of a shock as he was in a shoot-off for a qualifying place for the showdown and promptly missed - told you, you should have got a CRX! Anyway Nathan you can always console yourself with the fact you're in good company as Moses and the great GT, Graham Taylor, still aint qualified either.

Anyway see ya'll in Dorset.



Decided to have a little fun this weekend and shoot my springer, o.k. It aint just a springer but a full on Venom jobbie with a Paul Wilson creation but I didn't put a proper scope on it until the Thursday night, even then after setting the scope up I'd get half way round the course and the scope would shift - excuses, excuses!

Arriving at Redfearn's new ground - and what a ground it is I might say - I bumped into the familliar faces of Paul "Which gun shall I shoot today" Wheatley and Ken "Just you wait until I get my Steyr" Ingham they'd been practising hard over the past week meanwhile another familiar face Paul "New found form because of these Hobby's" Hudson was winding ken up about his secret weapon that he was using - namely his pellets and Ken was falling for it hook line and sinker!

It was nice to see one or two new faces as well, quite a lot from the midlands, pity we can't get em to come along and do the GP circuit, anyway I digress. This event changed last year from a hectic one day event to a more relaxed two day and looking at the weather forecast on the day previous it was going to be one hell of an event even if I was expecting to do much with regard to hitting targets.

After booking in I received a bit of a shock, I was due to be partnered with none other than the current Junior world champ, Nathan Reeve, boy was I in for a drubbing - Time to take the old Boinger onto the plinking range. Things were looking o.k. but and this'll be the only complaint about the weekend, honest, I just wish on all plinking ranges that every board be marked up with the distance that they are. Yes, I know we pay lots and lots of spondoolies for scopes that'll tell us the exact range but it's just nice to be reassured - rant over.

Was due to be doing the BFTA course first, lane 23, had a brainwave trying to find the start lane in other words 15 minutes after setting out I eventually make it to the starting lane - it was nearly in London! The start was sounded and Nathan decided to shoot first - showing his true form - the little git I'd asked him to take it easy on me because I was using a boinger but he was having none of it - he went and dropped the first five targets where as I didn't. Managing to hit the first but miss the second we were now on the kneelers where I decided that I wasn't going to dial for the long one, well actually I didn't have any choice in the matter as I'd suffered a brain fart and just hadn't dialled for it. Surprisingly it went, now this should have told me that the scope had moved but I was looking through clouded vision - shouldn't have had that curry -and I ranged the short kneeler and dialled for it and missed about an inch and a half high!

At the next lane I did exactly the same so decided on the long walk back upto the start of the course to drop some clicks off. Master Baines had been climbing trees again so the first few lanes were set at one hell of an angle up a tree! Luckily for me the combination of dropping clicks and also the change in angles helped and I cleared my first lane. It didn't last long as I was soon down to hit one miss one again, still trying to guess the amount of clicks to knock off. Even though I was missing quite a few I was well chuffed with how the gun was performing and to think it's eighteen years old!

Moving round the back of the plinking range it was as though the light switch had been flicked as I now started to clear the lanes again. Speaking of the plinking range, it's ever so weird peering over the back stop to the plinking range all you can hope is that no-one turns up with a gun and doesn't start using it.

Nathan was still flying, he'd dropped a couple by now, where as I was loads down, but at least I didn't appear to be dropping anymore - I even managed the long kneeler. Then all of a sudden the light switch was flicked again and I went back down to hit one miss one, not a good idea.

Moving back round to where we had started from I was struggling again, and finished 13 down - not bad for the first time out with the old girl. Nathan had kept giving me chances but still decided to kick me where it hurts finishing 7 down. Time for me to go back to the plinking range and sort the scope out.

As I mentioned earlier the atmosphere is very relaxed at this event so whilst we'd finished around 2'ish it wasn't until 6 that I left the ground to go home.

Day 2 - American Course

On arriving, I was pleasantly surprised to find I was in second place in the boinger class and even more so when I realised I was only 3 targets behind the airgun maestro himself, Paul James. That elation lasted a few seconds until I realised we were due to be undertaking the American course today!

Time to just check the rifle before starting just to make sure nothing had moved - everything seemed fine, I even managed to hit the sparrow target at 30 yards. Now it was time for everyone else to check my rifle to see how it was performaing - seems they agreed it wasn't bad but the stock had been designed for an orangatan, orangetan, a big long haired monkey (No comments LEE).

Where was I, oh I remember. Due to start on Lane 21 so start walking, keep walking, Oh my god how big is this wood?, keep going, nearly there, Dave Baines says "Oh you're nearly there just round the corner", keep walking, pause to catch breath and there 75 yards in front of me is lane 21. Nathan strolls up, out of breath I might add and he's only 15!

Nathan had decided to go first again, good job as I was still trying to catch my breath, he's on top form today and down falls the first target. Me I sit down and what the hell, the target falls for me too, a clear lane already! Moving on through the first couple of lanes and the targets are still falling, yes I admit I had a splitter on lane 23 or was it 24 but all eight shots dropped their targets - there's nothing to this American course dead easy.

Speed marching round to lane 1, look I was on a roll I didn't want to upset anything, quite a few people were saying that they'd already dropped a couple of targets what was their problems? Anyway Lane 1 beckoned Nathan was still clear as he left here, I'll admit now when I saw this target I thought no way - not in this wind, but even this target fell to the call of the boinger. OK confidence was now at an all time high, Lane 2 - seem to recall it being 38 yards.......DDDDDDUUUUUUNNNNNKKKKK, regain composure, DDDDDDUUUUUUNNNNNKKKKK, what the f£$%? Look at the turret compare it with the parallax ring dialled for 45 yards for some unknown reason, just seemed like a good idea at the time.

Time to concentrate more on the task in hand, have a quick ssssssllllllllluuuuuurrrrrppppp of pop, and continue. I'll admit after leaving this last lane it didn't bother me one bit at missing it where as if I'd have been shooting the CRX oh my god close your ears Ethel, Matt's chucking the teddy out of the pram, again. Strange, I might get to like shooting the springer.

Moving on we came to the only kneeling lane on the course and what a kneeling lane it was 45 yards of pure misery................... for other people as it fell rather nicely upon hearing the noise from my 77k. The next lane was the mother of all targets an 8 yard extremely reduced kill, Nathan nailed it where as I didn't have a range mark and missed it both times! Still I was only four down and people were still coming by having missed quite a few targets!

The next lane and Nathan proved he was human by missing the longish shot in the bowl area, he regained his composure though and dropped it with the second shot..........show off that he is. After seeing Nathan drop his first shot I gave this target a little bit of caution - like hell I did just give it nothing dial the range and hope for the best, I believe the correct terminology to be 'poke and hope'. The 'poke and hope' mentality certainly worked and the target duly fell both times.

We bumped into Paul Wlson and Dave Penman and they just said wait until you get to the lane with the one up in the tree! OK we'll wait. I was still on a roll as we moved down into the dense wood again, still only six down, time to start thinking if I stay like this maybe.....just maybe I might make up enough ground on Paul James.

Approaching the lane with the one up the tree, as described earlier, I admit I was shocked to see Nathan miss it with both shots. Maybe it 's time to describe this target: it was set on a tree roughly 8 or 9 yards away at around a 60 or 70 degree angle oh and by the way the kill was fling small. I have a cunning plan, rangefind the bottom of the tree and take the shot standing to reduce the angle, surely that's got to work. Err no it hasn't and I promptly missed it with both shots, ho-hum.

Now only three lanes to go and I really need to clear the rest of the course to catch Paul onto the next lane Nathan clears it I miss both shots. The daft thing was they felt like they were good shots, not flinched or anything like that. Nathan was concerned and suggested taking a shot at the faceplate to see if anything had moved, I declined the offer - I should have asked a marshall if I could do it just to check the scope hadn't moved but hind sight is a glorious thing.

Anyway two lanes to go and yet again Nathan clears it and I miss both again, the scope must have moved, Nathan yet again suggested firing at the faceplate - but I wouldn't listen to it - you numpty.

Final lane and I new there was no way now to catch Paul, unless he'd had a complete disaster. Was worried as Nathan missed one of his shots to finish on four down, I sat down wanting to finish on a high but sadly it slipped away from me as I dropped both shots again to finish on a 36. Time to find out what's going on by shooting at the faceplate, first shot a kill and a half high, the second follows suit. The scope had moved, to be honest I knew the scope needed a hell of a lot of packing so didn't want to overtighten the scope mounts and it must have been this that caused it to move.

Walking back upto the start of the course I bumped into Paul and he'd had a disaster to finish on a 36 and was worried about being beaten being the true gent that he is he told me how he'd overcome a similar problem with his scope and bought a one piece adjustable mount, which reminds me I need to go and pick it up from the shop.

Overall Andy Calpin had won with Steve Mason Second, Nathan Reeve Third after a shoot-off with Chris Smith and Dave Baines and Ian Taylor joint Fifth. Paul James took the recoiling class with yours truly second. B grade was taken by Paul "Special Pellets" Hudson with Brett Walker second, Stuart Williams third, Colin Deas fourth and Mike Noon Fifth. C grade was taken by Paul Mullcock closely followed by Hubert Hardcastle in second, Martin Fryer third, Matthew Fryer fourth and Robert Tarran fifth.


G.P.3 Byley.

Had booked this event to shoot in the morning without realising where it was, so after an early morning start off we went to sunny manchester and then drop down to Middlewich, I'll tell you what they don't half speak funny that side of the border!

Had been to this ground about three years previous in my first season of doing the GP's seem to remember it was a tough course with a very tricky wind nothings changed there then! At least it wasn't raining - mind you we were south of Manchester!

I was partnered up with, who - now who was I partnered up with, oh yes I remember one of them he was that big ugly dood from the midland's - won't hold that against him it's not his fault he was hit with a shovel! Just kidding, honest! Where was I? Oh yes I was partnered up with Neil Daniels and a guy who's name I'll remember by the time I get to the end of this report, he was a southern shandy drinker who had forgotten his lads hay fever tablet - the lengths some people goto to make sure they beat their son!

Anyway after a bit of hassle, don't get me started, I decided to have a go on the plinking range - what a complete waste of time that was. Brilliantly laid out range it was just I couldn't hit anything! It wasn't going well so decided to give up on that!

All too soon it was time for the pre-shoot briefing, brief it was too must have been the shortest one I'd ever heard not that I usually hear many as I usually arrive too late for them you see! Anyway time to start as I'd pre-booked quite early on I was due to start on lane 1, I arrived to find it was a standing lane!

After cajoling Neil into shooting first, I was to shoot second with the unknown guy third. Neil dropped both of the targets - honest he's crap at shooting standing. Rangefinding the first of the two I looked a the first target and there was two hit's on it Neil had hit the face plate a good pellets width below the pellet must have then spun into the kill! A definite Dave Baines of the future! My shots, being the good standing shot that I am, the first was left of centre the second split in on the left hand side of the kill! The unknown bloke, o.k. I'll apologise for the last time from now on in he'll be known as SSD Southern Shandy Drinker, SSD missed the first but got the second.

Moving on I remarked to Neil how it was an omen and he was due to clear the course if he was having that much luck. Needless to say after the kiss of death from me Neil rapidly went down hill. All was well until the first short target, around 37 yards, across the water the wind just taking him across. Me I was fairing a bit better and didn't drop one until target ten - I gave it just out of the kill and that's where it stayed. SSD was having a bit of a mare, I won't mention that his lad - SSDS (Southern Shandy Drinking Son) was seriously kicking SSD's backside! OK somebody had found some anti-hista-what-do-ya-ma-call-it's.

The course was superb constantly swapping sides making you think all the time where's the wind coming from? Plus we had the added bonus that it wasn't raining

My next misses came in quick succession first target 19, gave it straight down the middle even though the wind was coming right to left and the pellet came out right! Can't get my head round that one! The next was target 23 I gave this one just inside edge just for the pellet to move a kill and a bit! The final one to kick me where it hurts was target 26 seem to remember that one moving across kill.

Rumours were coming around that we were in the easy part of the course, little consolation for Neil and SSD the hard part started just before you made your way back on yourself - oh good.

Anyway moving swiftly on I'd just started to hit a few more when I got to target 32 this one again came out right when it appeared as though the wind was coming right to left. Ian Taylor was walking back to the start of the course he was four down he asked how our group was doing I reckoned about seven, even though I was five down before anyway goes on about how I always say I've missed more than I have it's because I never look at my scorecard cos when I have a good day I find it puts added pressure on myself. Rumours were abounding that Dave Baines had missed eleven already and there was still 18 targets to go!

All was looking good until target 34 when the pellet stayed exactly where the cross hairs were, just outside the kill, ho hum didn't want to win a GP anyway! Picked off a few more targets when I had another pellet go straight across the kill - not good

Come on Matt have a good finish for once! We were now in the corner of doom where grown men were known to cry. Cut the crap Matt, I couldn't really see what the problem was o.k. I was seven down with 8 shots to go, nay fear!

All did actually go well, for a change, up until the third from last lane, I looked at target 45 and could pick up a lot of misses on the right hand side - admittedly the wind seemed to be coming right to left so I give it dead centre and down she goes, look at target 46 and again the misses appear to be on the right hand side - give it nowt just for the pellet to clear the kill! b"£$%^d!!!

Next lane the two targets out in the field, first one goes straight the second doesn't connect - must have hit something on the way through. Well I must admit that both shots were rushed as the wind had dropped - lesson learned!

The final Lane - Kneelers - Oh good! Watching Neil miss the first, to finish on a 31, but get the second didn't exactly help matters but never the less down I sat, the first one drops the second..................doesn't. It had gone with the rest of the pellets over to the right! Oh well at least I managed a 40 didn't sound too good at the time but walking through the groups of shooters it wasn't bad at all! SSD had finished on a 18 got his backside well and truly kicked by SSDC as he finished on a 23.

Oh well there's always next week.


G.P.2. Otmoor

Never been to Otmoor before, can't wait to go back again - although it didn't start off too well it must be said. I was one of the suckers that did as the sign directed and parked at the side of the field, then realised after walking for miles, well maybe a hundred yards or so, that there was loads of room to park "Oh go on Amanda, you fetch the car, you know you'll need your sungigs!","f%$£ off", so off I trot back to get the car.

Anyway after fetching the car and driving the couple of hundred yards into the shoot we arrived to be greeted by the Bisley Crew - minus one. Guess who's too under the thumb now to come shooting? Yeah, Lee's finally met the girl of his dreams, no not a landlady, or a brewery owner, but a nurse! Soft Southern Shandy Drinking so and so - got to be polite she might read this, in fact if you are Lee's other half will you kindly let him out to play on a weekend.

Back to the Grand Prix, what a wonderful ground they've got - long walk round the course but still a damn fine ground. Anyway, after an incident in the carpark, which I won't go into -so don't even ask, it was time for me to shoot. Arriving at my start lane I found I was shooting with an all NEFTA group - Beryl and Johnathon Noon - so at least it should be a fairly stress free day. Johnathon was volunteered to shoot first, then Beryl and finally me.

Johnathon missed the first shot, 50 odd yards in the open, proclaiming it had gone high and left - he nailed the second target though. Beryl followed suit missing the first but getting the second, I couldn't see what all of the fuss was about, at least until I pulled the trigger on the first target. Johnathon's had finished high left - 11 O'Clock'ish - whilst mine finished high and right - 1 O'Clock'ish - didn't want to upset too many people by clearing the course anyway! Gave the second shot a bit more respect, even though it was shorter, and got it.

Moving on a bit I was still one down then the wind just picked up and took me out, that was the key to the shoot just being able to pick up on when the wind was there - I say wind more like a breeze.

Getting by the standers, yes I did manage to hit them but boy they were long I was still doing well. It had to change though and it did big style, as soon as we made our way out into the open I just couldn't do a thing right - the ones you'd expect to move stayed put whilst the shorter - easier - ones flew straight across the kill!

I was now five or six down, but was still confident about putting a score in in the forties when I chucked the teddy out of the pram and just thought f'it, didn't bother range finding and pulled the trigger at the targets. Finished up on a 39 - garbage.

NEFTA Classic.

Was always going to be a tough one this, being defending Champion - as everyone kept reminding me. Initially I was going to go for the spring gun category but unfortunately my stock was delayed so it wasn't to be - maybe next year.

The classic weekend is always a funny one, weather wise, cos no matter what goes on in the week prior to the event - this year we'd had none stop rain all week - the classic weekend always manages to stay dry and this year certainly wasn't going to let us down.

Arrived around six on the Saturday morning to help finish setting the course out and was set to work straight away laying targets out and stringing them up it certainly felt a long course and bloody windy, although maybe the wind was deceptive?

All too soon it was time to check the gun and make sure it was zeroed, because of setting the course out I basically had around 10 minutes to get booked in, zero the gun and then start the FT course.

Was partnered up with Richard Lees for the two days, although I knew Richard I'd never shot against him before so was looking forward to it. Anyway meeting Richard at our start lane, can't remember which lane it was - possibly 8, John Briscoe and Francis "fastest gun in the west" De Clermont were on the lane behind, we were thankful to see that we weren't due to start or even finish on a standing or a kneeling lane!

The call to start sounded and I cajoled Richard into shooting first, o.k. we agreed that he'd shoot first today and vice versa tomorrow. Richard was doing alright until his second shot that went high, luckily both of my shots finished in the kill.

Over the next couple of lanes I seemed to be in automatic mode I just couldn't do anything wrong, Wind from left to right give it a couple of inch and down the targets go - wind right to left give it nowt and down it goes and then all of a sudden the wheels fall of the wagon and I miss target 33 - admittedly as I pulled the trigger I pushed the gun away from me which never helps matters. I'm not going to mention that Richard had now got into the stride of things and knocked 33 and 34 over, doh!

The next miss came a few targets later target 36 a kneeler - now at least I've got an excuse it was the longer of the two kneelers - o.k. I haven't really as the shot would have been fine if I hadn't decided to move and pull the trigger at the same time. Not going to mention that Richard got both of these too!

Moving swiftly on to the end of the course we met up with James Woodhead and Russ Spencer at the final lane, bleedin hell it was windy but James dropped them both - jammy git Richard sat down and promptly dropped both targets. Matthew sits drops the first, moves to shoot the second target gives it loads of wind but it's still not enough, ho hum.

Now for the long walk back to the start of the comp, bumped into a few faces Stu Hancox was 2 down, Ian Taylor 3 but Dave Baines was only one - still if I could keep close to these guys.............

Back at lane 1 whilst the wind appeared to be blowing across the targets, right to left, most of the misses on the face plate were on the right hand side of the kill? Could it be that the pellets were going straight or people were giving loads of wind but they didn't need it or was it just a case of I couldn't think of anything to type so I'm just filling gaps on a web page.......who knows?

Richard sat down and got one but missed the next complaining that they'd gone straight - yeah right I sat down and gave about an inch off kill and snook in on the left hand sides of both targets, Richard you little fibber. The wind was actually changing that much shot to shot that there was no point listening to your partner cos by the time you sat down the wind was doing something completely different. Over the next lanes you certainly had to keep thinking!

Anyway to cut a long story short I finished three down and Richard finished on a 29. Walking back to the carpark Dave Baines was now two down with just a couple of lanes to go Stu Hancox and Ian Taylor were both three down. As the last of the shooters made their way off the FT course it would appear that many of the faces had a blow out over the final couple of lanes Stu and Ian both finished five down and Dave on three..... OK a three or five target miss may be a good score by our standards but not for the gods of FT!


I still maintain that this competition is won and lost on the silhouette's - you can be the world's best FT shooter but if you can't shoot standing up then your weekend's over.

I was due to shoot the silhouette's first, after last year there was no way that I was going to miss that seventh chicken - like last year. Well technically I didn't miss the seventh chicken like last year cos I missed it all together this time around!!! I hate them chicken's I do. To be honest I was too busy wondering how Dave baines had managed to knock them down as most of them hadn't a pellet strike on them!

The pigs are usually the easiest of all the silhouette's - due to the size and relatively short range, thus they fell obediently.

Onto the ones that nearly everybody I know fears - the Turkey's. These are usually tough because fatigue is usually setting in. Dave had had a nightmare on these, what was I going to do? OK they all fell, it was one of those days no matter what I did whether it was aim dead on or be off the right hand side the pellet struck perfectly.

Fatigue is really setting in by the time you get to the rams, they should be an easy target - again due to their size - but rarely are. Dave had been complaining about striking or missing them very low, I was more worried about the left to right bit as on the practice range the rams were taking about two inch of wind.

I aimed at the first ram dead centre just to try to get a bearing on what was going on, the pellet stayed centre but struck low on it's belly, the second followed the same pattern. The third moved across in the wind, so time to aim at the head of the ram the fourth moved but the fifth came out right so I missed that one. O.K. a 38 on the silhouette's is nice.

Starting again the first two pellets dropped low on the belly of the rams, the next one looked like I 'd put in a .25 cal pellet instead of the .177 as it dropped between the rams legs - time to add a few clicks on me thinks the fourth struck centrally but the fifth looked again like a .25 cal pellet but somehow jumped over the rams back! 36 very happy with this score even if it didn't give me much of a cushion over people.

Day 2.


Started on the silhouette's, again the wind was up and I was told I'd be on the wall bank - don't like it there as it does funny things. Now I could start by saying I managed to hit the seventh chicken but I did miss the sixth one! Having to remember what happened as I write this a month after the event ass I have lost my score card!

Seem to remember doing allright up until the turkey's when I made a basic mistake, I got the first and second - but the second took down the third and rather than continue shooting the rest of the bank and reset afterwards I stopped reset them and proceeded to miss the final three turkey's, what a prat!

Moving onto the rams I needed the last one to give me a 32 to mean I'd beaten Stu Hancox and Nick Murphy by one target needless to say I hit the target low and it didn't go, o.k. I hit it right between it's legs creating a lovely pellet mark but a very upset ram that decided it wasn't going to fall over, yes I could have contested the target but I only ever want to win comps by fair means.

Field Target

I was still in the running for the overall so was very nervous before starting the FT section. Missing the first target was never a good thing either but all was going swimmingly until lane 19 where I dropped another then onto lane 20, standers - I hate standers I do. I'd got the longer of the two rangefound the second but a whistle had been blown so stop what you're doing wait for the all clear take the shot miss a bleed'in short stander high 12 O'clock - I hadn't dialled for the target!

Walk to lane 1 cursing under my breath. Everyone was calling this section the bowl of doom as there were more blank faces and swear words coming from this section than anywhere else. I couldn't see what the problem was, o.k. I'll admit to splitting one or two up this section, 4 or 5 more like! All was going swimmingly until the final lane and dunk....dunk, what nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnooooooooooooooooooooo! Five down.

The next couple of lanes fell obediently but then another Dunk........Dunk not a good idea that Matt. Oh good a kneeling lane next, down goes the short one, long one stays up - mental note: practice your kneelers! I was now way out of the running for the title oh well didn't want to retain it anyway he says as he spits the dummy out!

Finishing the course another two targets down all I could think was at least if no one else has a good silhouette's I could still go home with something.

Walking back to the car I was informed that the silhouette scores for the afternoon were low so it was going to be a three way shoot off for the silhouette's Myself, Nick and Stu.

Shoot off

Normally I'm as nervous as hell in a shoot off but as I lifter the gun onto the first turkey everything was steady, wind blowing right to left so aim to the right - bleed'in hell the pellet lifted and struck it's neck. second target aim to the left just for the pellet to move left. Hang on a mo why did you give it left hand edge if the wind's blowing right to left?

Still kicking myself for being so stupid I give the next target right hand side and the pellet moves out to the right! OK straight down the middle on the rest and down they go, 3!

Stuart shoots next, misses the first but get's the next four - o.k. I'm now going home empty handed, damn. Nick shoots and misses the first 2 so Stuart does the double and takes the overall and the silhouette titles, makes you wonder how he does it doesn't it!?

Only thing to be said is must try harder!


G.P.1. Welsh Open

The day started a bit like this: BEEP......BEEP......BEEP...., role over and turn alarm off 06:45 in the morning - not shooting until the afternoon so no point getting up early RING......RING......RING......RING goes the phone. "Hello"says Amanda, "KKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK, it's Paul, KKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK, can you hear the rain?, KKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK", can I hear the rain I could hear it in the bathroom for gods sake. Next thing "KKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK, toilets have blown over in the night, KKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK, I'll see you in a couple of hours, KKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK". Don't know about you but I hate setting off knowing that it's raining at your final destination plus the fact you know that you're going to be sat in it for a good couple of hours it just doesn't put you in the right frame of mind!

After doing a hour or three of low level flying we arrived at sunny wales, no it was honest, well the sun shone for a couple of minutes before the skies became overcast - something to do with the strong winds. The first group of shooters were already going round and looking around there was more than one blank face. Bumping into 3 creeks he was having a flyer, only six down after 10 lanes or so, he reckoned most people were giving two much wind on the targets. Next along was Wayne Hudson who summed it up simply by saying don't ask, so I didn't. To be honest from the start of the course the wind didn't seem too bad perhaps John was right but as soon as you made your way out into the open the hard part was standing up!

Eventually it was time for the afternoon's shooters to start, I shot round with Paul Wheatley, as everybody seemed to have already partnered up, there's going to be better organisation at the next event so you should be allocated a partner and a start lane. Starting at targets 19 and 20 we had a slight delay whilst the mornings shooters finished going round, then waited whilst the targets were repainted - not complaining too much just might have been an idea to give the shooters briefing whilst the target painting was undertaken. Just got to mention Cliff "SAS urban guerilla" Church with his ballaclava - you had to see him, he was alright though until he got to the chrono and put his AK47 over it instead of his spud gun!

Targets 19 and 20 were half way along the sheltered part of the course, Paul shot first and got the longer of the two, dead centre so he says - yeah right, but missed the shorter one - he'd got the wind right but had over ranged it! Anyway I sat down and looked at target 19 shouldn't be too much wind on that, it's a reducer though, argh what the hell give it edge! Duuuuuuuunnnnnnnnkkkkkk the pellet splits on the right hand side - missed it on purpose, didn't want Stuart Hancox getting wind that I'd cleared another course, it's ever so distressing for his family when he runs home early from shoots you know - he's inconsolable. Behind me Dave Baines puts his head in his hands and says "Not this soon, you can't miss a target with your first shot" and promptly walks off. Anyway target 20, time to treat it with a bit of respect, hang on a mo who's hit it dead centre nah can't have been Paul must have been an edge splitter, there's no marks though, jammy b£$%^*d. Right what to do give it a couple of inch low and behold I follow the pellet all of the way in and the pellet lands almost on top of Paul's o.k. I'll admit that it wasn't as perfect a shot as Paul's but you've got to be kind to the older generations nowadays.

Next lane, this is where the hard work begins, Duuuuuuuunnnnnnnnkkkkkk - what the hell, all right two down out of the first three targets not too bad for a beginner! Time to reassess the situation start giving them loads. This worked for the next 11 targets, all the way round the bottom end of the course up until the standers. To be fair o.k. here comes excuse number 43, the standers were set in the open and it was gusting, anyway the first split at 12 O'clock the second hit the face plate somewhere - they were really short standers but when you're struggling to hold the gun within six inch either side of the face plate then it was always going to be hard.

Quickly moving on I again started to hit a few, well four, I was nearly counted out on the target - due to not being able to hold still so in the end just pulled the trigger when I was close to the kill in true poke and hope stylie.

Moving further out into the open, the wind was really kicking in it was now easy to see why so many had struggled to get the scores that they did. Two more targets went but then a series of nine straight misses really took me out of the running. Nine misses - I can't remember the last time I got nine misses in a row! Stu Hancox was now in full flow extracting the Michael doesn't he remember the Inter-Regionals - quicker off the blocks than Michael Schumacher or so I'm told.

Moving back to the start of the course we were greeted by two standers luckily they both went and very lucky shots they were I don't mind admitting. Confidence was now at an all time high and you've guessed it Duuuuuuuunnnnnnnnkkkkkk the poxy bleedin target must have moved - I likes Wales I do.

I ain't going to bore you with the rest of the course, all I can say is you just think you're finally getting your head around the wind only for the wind/pellet to have differnt ideas. Finishing on 30ex50 was hardly a high point in my FT career but it could have been much worse! Oh nearly forgot to mention, got my own back on Paul for beating me at the Warwickshire Open - vengeance is mine!

Role on next week - oh Christ it's the classic!


Warwickshire Open

It's a funny old game this FT lark, one week you're on a high after clearing a course the next you're struggling to get 25. Oh well new it couldn't last!

To be honest I wasn't too bothered about going to the Warwickshire open but Paul had said he wanted to go and in it's favour Purley Chase is a superb looking ground. So off we set at 7:30. Around an hour and a half later we rolled up to the ground thinking Christ this is busier than last year. Dave Baines and Trev thought exactly the same when they realised that there were people already going round the course just as they arrived - after a stewards enquiry it was deemed legal, that people are allowed to go around the course before Dave and Trev although it is deemed rather un-sporting, back to the story.

Time for a cup of tea, oh Christ - I know I'm shooting for Daystate this season but I'm starting to sound like Dave already. Honest I'm going back to telling the story now. The course started pretty much as it did last year and made it's way slowly up through the trees upto a new bit, the open field, oh my god what a new bit. We met up with Stuart "Runaway" Hancox and Little Kev who were just coming into the field, Stuart welcomed me and Paul in his usual way something along the lines of a donkey braying and a broad brummie accent - don't think I can repeat what he said on here! All I asked was would he be leaving early today or does he stand a chance of winning for a change? Time for some more braying!

Back to the start of the course before I get shot and time to try the gun out on the plinking range. Even though there was a gusting breeze, on the back board the pellet was only moving 1/2 inch or so but generally going straight. Paul fired his usual three shots and that was it for him. Time to do battle.

I must admit that I still wasn't that bothered about shooting, when Paul began moaning about the first target being a reducer, oh good was my report as I watched a Jay flitting about in the trees behind. Coming back to my senses when Paul asked for the score cards - he'd gone and got the first two - I sat down and muttered about the first target being a reducer and promptly gave it inside edge of the kill only for it to, presumably, fly across the kill in the wind. I remember you know when I used to be a good shot targets like these would just fall over at the sound of the gun going off - don't they know who I am! I also remember someone saying to me about the fun part of shooting after a clearance is to see how long you could go without dropping a shot - hhhmmmm the very first target after…….

Time to get serious, the second target loomed and yet again the big man upstairs deemed that it shouldn't go over - now it's time to spit the dummy out. So the first two competition shots after doing so well at Newbury were misses, can't we move the Warwickshire open to Newbury……………please?

Moving swiftly on to the next lane Paul yet again dropped both targets, I actually got both as well. Must have been dough pellets the first two - right I'm back who's the daddy!

The third lane, all was going well until the second shot - it was a long'un after all and in that wind ! OK Paul had dropped them both in stronger gusting conditions and it had been dead still for my shots but that's beside the point.

Things started to get back on track, well up until the seventh lane when I missed another shot 52 yards, in my defence m'lud Paul "Invincible" Wheatley actually dropped a shot at this point too so I didn't feel too bad - I even nearly put the dummy back in after seeing Paul miss.

Rumours were abounding that Tim William's had dropped four and so had Dave Harrison, so if I don't miss another shot I could still be in a shoot off for the title - no worries! This was the plan until lane 9 when I dropped another - didn't want to win it anyway poxy title.

Moving swiftly on, to the field lane Lane 15ish, I was now 10 down I just couldn't get my head around the wind. Many people were sympathising with my predicament- yeah right you're all pretty clued up as to what the comments were so I won't repeat them on here.

I now went through a patch of stringin four hits together - wahay then a fifty yarder stopped me in my tracks. The target was actually a clean kill but the target didn't fall - yes I could see the target was leaning forward but I was too far behind to do any damage to anyone, other than Paul if he managed to beat me, so didn't contest the hit.

The final two lanes Wayne Hudson was coming off with a 35ex40 superb shooting - maybe time for a Ripley team call up me thinks. Anyway making our way to the next but last lane we, me - Trev and Paul, found Wayne's score card so it was time for a wind up as Trev pocketed the score cards.

Nothing much to report from the final two lanes other than I shot crap to finish 13 down Paul finished 11. Oh well as a great man once said in a broad brummie accent with a twinge of donkey thrown in "From champ to chump in under a week!"

Almost forgot, we handed Wayne's card to Tony Cook and got him to hand Wayne's card in without him knowing. We found Wayne puffing furiously on a cigarette talking about not being able to find his score card - we let him stew for 15-20 minutes before we told him what had happened. In the shoot-off between Dave Harrison and Tim William's, Tim took first place in a tense stand off. Then came the second shoot-off Wayne Dave Baines and Stuart Hancox, Wayne unfortunately was knocked out of the first shoot-off then Dave so Donkey man had finished third. Well done Stuart - it's nice to see you staying around for the end of a competition for a change!


BFTA Championships / Inter Regional's Weekend.

After taking some time off and missing so many of the winter leagues I was shocked and surprised when I was asked to represent NEFTA for this weekend. Things, preparation wise, were going great until after the Frayed Knott when I'd had a problem with my gun so I asked Dave if he could put me on last on both Saturday and Sunday so I could mess around with the spare gun to make sure it was performing o.k. The Thursday prior to the competition I even contemplated phoning Dave up and backing out of the competition altogether as things were definitely not going well - It's a good job I didn't:-

BFTA Championships

As I was shooting last I decided to not set off too early to get to Newbury, I think we left around six'ish, could have stopped in bed even longer as we had our quickest run down - there was nothing on the roads at all. Why am I mentioning about the travelling aspect of Newbury I hear you ask when all you're interested in is my despair at shooting like a pillock? Well we'd been and bought a new shooting vehicle - you'll never guess as to the amount of bargaining I had to do to get a car big enough for all of the gear we take with us when we go shooting, sorry shopping.

Seeing Dave Baines after the shooters briefing he handed me ticket number 15 and also the rest of the cards to handout on a first come first served basis - his words not mine. So to all of the people who took offence at me handing the cards out I'm sorry nobody made me captain for the day it was Dave who knew I was going on last whilst he was going on first so he needed someone to hand the rest of cards out. If anybody has got any problem with that then speak to me don't gripe behind my back........................................Rant over.

Like I said earlier I needed to check my gun out so I made my way across to the plinking range, everyone was saying don't bother as you couldn't see for heat haze and the targets were already well shot up - something to do with the up, down, left, right movement everyone was getting. 30 minutes later it confirmed what everyone had been saying sometimes the pellet struck to the right anything from nothing to two inch! At least this was the wind direction, the next shot could then do anything go up, down, left or nowhere. Todays going to be fun.

Whilst I was waiting for my group I went to the plinking range three times , each time it did the same and I came back looking blank. Indications from the shoot were that the conditions were pretty difficult - If the likes of Dave Baines comes off with a 34 rather than his usual 37ex40 then things are looking bleak.

All too soon the final shooters were called I ended up shooting with my NEFTA team mate Clive Marsh and Dale Garth My first problem even before I shot was nerves - I never seem to get bothered by nerves if I don't know the person that I'm shooting against but when it's someone you know that's usually fighting it out with the big boys then I suffer quite badly. Clive was due to suffer with my constant nervous chattering - sorry mate.

The shoot order was decided, Dale shot first then Clive and finally me, Dale had had zero problems with his gun and promptly missed the first two targets, Clive got them and me well I was shaking all over the place and got the first but missed the second. This followed onto the next Lane Dale missed both Clive got both and I got one of them, this is not how to set the world of field target alight missing two out of the first four! Things picked up over the next couple of lanes Clive was clear I was still two down and Dale had missed all eight. Time for drastic action crank the Left-Right turret round half a turn Dale. Surprisingly he started hitting things!

I think Clives first miss was the shorter of the two kneelers, my next miss was the longer of the two - I just couldn't force the scope out of the kill on it - thus the pellet cleared the kill, just. I must admit it was around this time, no not only that I realised Clive was human - he does miss targets afterall - but I started to think how fortunate we are to have such a stunning piece of woodland to shoot in it was also around this time when we saw some deer running through the wood truly stunning.

Moving further up the hill Clive made another mistake on the stander's luckily mine both went Dale was still plugging away - he'd get a few hit's together but then loose it again but at least we were still having a laugh. Reaching the very top of the hill it was like a different planet all together, the temperature had risen a good few degrees the wind certainly kicked in and it was time to give loads - I though it had been bad enough coming up the hill giving edge of plate on the longer targets!

It was definitely time to be brave, when you're giving targets off silhouette and the pellets still dragged across. I'd made some targets up on Clive through this part of the course and we left here both five down. Dropping down the hill it was a different world again, the wind seamed steadier rather than gusting, it was getting even hotter though. Little Kev came through the course at this point to say he'd finished on a 26 by his own admission the gun had performed faultlessly just the wind had kicked him where it hurts the most.

Moving further downwards the wind got me on a couple more just taking me out of the kill, same with Clive and we started the final section - working back round to the plinking range both seven down. We met up with Bainesy who offered to marshall us over the final section to enable us to get through it a bit quicker.

The first couple of targets Clive missed one whilst I managed to get both, this again repeated itself on the next lane, now I know I was taking around 1 min 15 seconds for both shots but Clive was flying through maybe this was the cause of the misses.

All too soon the final lane loomed and Dale had finished on a 18?, Clive had finished 11 down on 29 I was still seven down only problem was the first target in the final lane was 55 yards and the second around 45-50! What a lane to finish on. Time to at least look as if you know what you're doing Matthew. Only looks like a bit of wind just give it outside edge, Bang, slow motion time as I watch the pellet moving across the kill to end up about a pellets width over the other side. What to do on the shorter target? Give it edge of kill and luckily the target falls. Clive being the true sportsman was the first to congratulate me and say I might be in the places with a score of 32.

On handing the score cards in I was advised by Barry that indeed I was in the places but would need a shoot-off to decide whether it was for ninth or tenth, god I hate shoot-offs - not that I've been in that many has something to do with the fact I don't hit targets that often!


As I was shooting off for the last two places with Stuart Murray we were asked to go first, first two targets to be taken sitting. Sit down, Clench buttocks, Range find, aha 50 yards just give it outside edge of kill, pull trigger and pellet just and I do mean just gets under the top edge of kill. Second target 45ish yards, edge of kill and yet again the pellet just scrapes in under the top of the kill damn I'm blessed. Stuart calmly sits down and drops both targets remarking how jammy I am hitting both targets.

Next lane, Kneeling, What! can't we do it sat again. As mentioned many, many times before I hate kneelers even more so in shoot-offs. Anyway Kneel down, clench buttocks, rangefind 53 yards, dial turret, wind kicks in, wobble about 1/2 inch outside of kill, DUNK, the pellet hits exactly where the cross hairs were nine O'clock 1/2 inch outside kill! Second target, got to get it, clench buttocks, rangefind, 47 yards and down she falls. Stuart kneels down and calmly drops the long shot, I assume it's all over, he then proceeds to miss the short one somebody up there definitely loves me today!

Back to first lane, Standing, Oh Christ Re-range the first target 47 yards, clench buttocks, lift gun wobble all over the face plate, oh f#£$ it, just pull the trigger, the target slams down, dead silence. Turning around to see what's happened and people are just picking their jaws up off the floor and saying good shot, who me? Jammy git more like - I'll admit it. Second target, Re-rangefind again, clench buttocks, lift gun again wobble all over the face plate and the target falls again - if I'm honest don't know how but who cares! Stuart moves up to take his shot at the first and DUNK - wahaaaaaayyyyyyyy, sorry hard luck Stuart, it was a difficult shot and I had the luck on the day.

Didn't see the other shoot-offs as I was in my own little world, nothing new there then I hear you cry, cheeky bleeders.

So here you go the top ten positions:-

1 Ian Taylor NEFTA

2 Josh Garwood FFTA

3 Andy Calpin NEFTA

4 Terry "Daylight Robbery" Ord CSFTA

5 David Baines NEFTA

6 Dave Doe CSFTA

7 Dorian Falconer WAFTA

8 Stuart Hancox MFTA

9 Matthew "Prize Numbpty" Hirst NEFTA

10 Stuart Murray SEFTA 32

Inter Regional's

The main point to the weekend, the championships mean nothing compared to the team event, it was looking good after the previous days results, what with four NEFTA shooters in the top 10. Weather wise the day was very cold compared with the previous day and slightly overcast it even looked like it could rain, not a good idea as Amanda had decided to take the car with all my wet weather gear shopping. Upon arriving my old mate Lee " Honorary Northern Monkey" Highton had turned up, he must have still been suffering from Jet Lag - he's been down under for a couple of months - cos he bought me a cup tea, nice to see you back mate. Then Moses collars/mugs me to buy a club badge or three!

After the presentation of the previous days trophies it was time for the first practice of the day, once again I just couldn't find any sort of consistency of the shots - they'd go left then right, up and down. I overheard Wayne Hudson and he seemed to be having no problems so I gave up and decided to come back later.

It's funny at the inter-regional's all the teams are usually huddled together chewing the fat, debating the previous days results, speculating as to what's going to happen during the coming day. Anyway as I returned to the carpark everyone seemed to be gathered outside John "3 creeks" Mclean's tent, ask him how he got that name also whilst you're asking him about his night time activities ask about his sponsorship from Nissan!

Groups of shooters were moving through quite quickly, so it was time to leave a rather embarrassed John, oh the innocence of youth, and get back to the practice range. Back at the practice range I still couldn't get a bead on what was happening. Luckily for me Simon, Wayne's brother was having the same problem I was just hoping I was going to have as good a day as I had yesterday and not let the team down.

The first shooters were now coming off Bainesy had done a 36, Trev 33, Wayne looked as though he'd had a good'un as he was walking the course after shooting - I said to Simon "Your Kid's had a good'un", "How'd you know that?","Well he's still walking the course","f£$% me, we're gonna have to get a bigger hat for him.". Brotherly love, you can't beat it.

As predicted Wayne had done his job, 35, luckily for us the other teams shooters were struggling to cope in the wind Stu Hancox on a 33, Dorian Falconer on a 32 to name two. Then the rumour came round Ian Taylor had done a 37, brilliant shooting, was it going to be our year quite a few were predicting it already but until the last shooters through you never know. I just didn't want to loose on count back like last year. Time to head back for a cup of tea and some more wind for the gun.

All too soon the last shooters were called I bumped into Andy Calpin who'd had a 33 and he said that it was looking good for us but we still needed two good scores. Now two years ago I hadn't qualified for the team and got in because somebody backed out at the last minute, had gun problems, shot last and Andy Calpin said to me before I shot it was going to be close and we needed a 37, I didn't manage a 37 but got a 36 which was enough. Could history repeat itself again?

At the firing line I was greeted by Davinia Wainwright who suggested it would be good for us to have a war of the roses contest, luckily for me someone else turned up and then Nick Murphy I made my excuses and partnered up with Nick - It would have been bad enough losing to a Midlander let alone losing a war of the roses match - I definitely didn't need the added pressure I also wanted a chance to get my own back on Nick for the Frayed Knot.

Nick shot first and promptly missed the second of the two shots, I sat down and again, like yesterday, felt nervous and couldn't settle gave both shots half a kill outside left edge and down they both went. Chris Smith made his way down to where we were waiting for the next lane he'd done a 36 and he also mentioned Stephen Littlefair was two down at the top of the hill, that was one of the best scores we'd heard of someone doing up to that point- Stephen was later to go on to finish just 4 down superb shooting sir. Stuart Hancox was now making his way through the shooters checking up on scores, he didn't hang around too long, can't think why?

Moving in the reverse order to yesterday there didn't seem to be much wind - all I was giving was outside edge, yes it was swapping about a bit but it didn't seem to reflect the scores that were coming off. Scrap those comments we were now at the bottom of the hill oh my god how much wind Nick dropped another around here I was still clear so time to be brave - edge of plate. I actually followed the pellet all the way across the target and it just snook inside the right hand edge! Was still feeling the nerves, even though it looked like NEFTA were going to win you never know. Funniest moment for me was the look on Dave Doe's face at missing the short stander!

Part way up the hill of doom were the kneelers from the previous day, now standers. I'd heard on the grapevine about this but didn't believe it, well until I actually saw them that is. To be quite honest looking at them they still didn't look too bad I can't see what the fuss was about they're only 35 and 25 yards. Sit down range them 45 yards half way up a tree and 35 yards straight out in front, what! Wobbling around just like I did in the shoot-off from yesterday both targets went and suddenly I felt all of the pressure lift, well some of it, or was it due to the fact I could no longer feel anything it was that cold.

At the next lane Nick missed another and remarked it went straight, now you should always go with your own judgement cos if you don't, you just end up feeling like battering the other persons head in with your gun when you miss. So it was with this in mind, going with my own judgement not the other although if Nick beat me, hhhhhmmmmmmm. It was with this in mind I sat down and gave the target edge of plate, to be honest I don't know where I hit - it split somewhere just not sure which side. Nick remarked how chuffed he was for me, through gritted teeth I might add, at having a split that went. Steve Mason now joined us and asked how we were going, he'd just done a 37 so that cancelled out Ian's score so the pressure was back on.

Moving to the top of the course people started remarking on me clearing the course, yeah right, there's still around 20 targets to go. 20 targets to go and they're mentioning clearances time to start shaking. Still giving around 5 or 6 inches of wind up here targets were still falling I just couldn't believe my luck, was starting to think about aiming a pellet straight up into the air just to see if the target would fall another splitter concentrated the mind once more Nick was well chuffed for me. It was around this time I noticed most of the NEFTA hanging around in the background and also Phil James came up to ask how we were doing. It's funny but I was surrounded by everyone else's team mates apart from my own, best way for me cos it would have been too much. It just goes to show that for all of the sports mockers who say we take the sport too seriously that it can't be further from the truth, rival teams cheering each other on even though we're competing against each other.

We started to drop down the other side of the hill now, the cold really started to take hold, it didn't help that Little Kev was walking around in a T-shirt! Phil was remarking "You'll clear it there's only this next lane with long targets on.................oh and the final lane!" Thanks Phil. Phil's a top bloke he was with me the last time at the Masters and talked me through the course then so it was nice to have a good bit of banter going.

The second set of kneelers came and went without too much trouble, news filtered through Tim Finley had put in a 36 so that was good for us. I looked back to see Calpin trying to get my attention asking how I was going I was chuffed to tell him still clear. Nick was now 5 down and he wasn't going to miss anymore, well not until the next lane!

The final 4 lanes loomed and it was noticeable the wind had changed direction, still sticking to the game plan of 5 or 6 inches off the kill for 50 - 55, 2-3 for 45 to 50 and pick an edge for the shorter ones targets still were falling maybe I could clear it after all. Nick was sticking to his word and stayed clear right up to the final lane. Had to stop it there as we hit a bit of a queue and hopefully I can build the tension up a bit.

Met up with Russ Spencer on the final lane he'd had a good one, 32, so was happy - he still couldn't tell me that we'd won it for sure though! Time to look at the last lane, looked the same as yesterday - where I'd missed one out of the two...................oh good.

Time for Nick to sit down and drop both of the targets, we now had a crowd of around 6 or 8 shooters with the NEFTA team waiting in the wings. The longer of the two 50 yards away pellet marks all over the face plate, brilliant just what I wanted to see not! Watch the windicator, first left then right, what to do what to do. I have a cunning plan. Forget 5-6 inches give it inside edge this voice inside my head said, so I did and down the target went. Was just ranging the second target when I noticed how quiet it had gone, so I turned around and said "Anyone would think I was on for a clear how quiet it is!", turned back quickly dialled while people were laughing and dropped the target. Don't like shooting in deafly silence! A massive cheer went up, mainly form the Midlands lad's I stood up and everybody was congratulating me, I just couldn't stop smiling.

Walking back to the stats tent everyone was asking how I'd done, nobody including myself could believe it, to be honest though my clearance would have meant nothing if the team hadn't won, don't get me wrong I was over the moon at clearing the course but the individual scores didn't matter.

Even though we knew we'd won, prior to the prize giving, we still did our usual thing of the teams splitting up into our respective regions waiting for the result to be announced. At the prize giving Roger Moy gave one hell of a good speech declaring that NEFTA had won averaging 35.5 per man. Well done NEFTA we did ourselves proud.

Man of the shoot must goto the following :-

Ian Taylor, David Baines, Tim Finley, Stephen Littlefair, Chris Smith, Clive Marsh, Wayne Hudson, Trevor Ryan, Andy Calpin, Russ Spencer, Jono Noon, Paul Wilson, John Mclean, Simon Hudson The NEFTA Team

Roll on next week, back to 20 ex 40!

P.S. Can the organiser's please arrange for two swings to be attached to the big tree next year, just to keep 3 creeks daughter's, Shannon and Elise happy.


Frayed Knot

I've been having a bit of a break recently, for various reasons really, hence the reason the column hasn't been filled in. Anyway it was at the final winter league - Just got to mention Pontefract did the triple again main, silhouette and pistol titles, Whoop, whoop, damn were good if you're lucky we might miss the first three winter leagues next year just to give you others a chance - oh did I get carried away there or what?

Back to the story - it was at the final winter league when I was asked to represent, well they were desperate you know, the North East in the annual Frayed Knot competition. To those that don't know it's the annual competition where the North East goes along and gets beaten by the Midlands - top 30 shooters from each region, all right 30 from the top 33 in the case of the midlands and 30 from the top 55 for us.

When I heard it was to be held at Castle Ftc's ground, just off junction 27 M1, there was no stopping me from shooting as it's a brilliant venue and always throws up one or two surprises, scores wise. The ground is ripe for holding a grand prix, big wood to shoot in, excellent parking and superb sausage sarnies! Just hope the midlanders are reading this.

After an Early start, Amanda was working at six in the morning so thought I'd better set off a couple or three hours early cos without my navigator I was bound to get lost - only been there three times before. Managed to get there without getting lost, just missed the final turning so not too bad really - you could tell it was going to be a shotgun start as Bainesy & Trev were nowhere to be seen.

It was going to be a stunning day today, even though we were destined to get beat, as the sun was already beaming down with the usual light breeze blowing through the trees. Little Kev was already there strolling around with his Feinwerkbau, "can I have one, please….no" I said to myself, to save going through the motions when I get home. Before too long everyone had arrived and the plinking range was opened, the slight breeze was getting stronger.

After confirming how crap I've been shooting of late it was time to gather to find out who I was to be shooting against, " Matthew Hirst and Nick Murphy" Beryl called, "What the !$£*". Let's listen to that again "Matthew Hirst and Nick Murphy" I thought that's what she said, can't I have a C grader?

We were shooting the course to the right in the morning so off we set with me mumbling "Matthew Hirst and Nick Murphy £$%!". Things had definitely started off badly, I suppose at least I've got an excuse why I lost. Nick was cajoled into shooting first, I never like shooting fresh targets I prefer something to aim for. The lane we chose, targets 25 & 26 short one up a tree about 15 yards the other just shy of 55 yards, at least guaranteed we'd leave after hitting one of the targets!

Anyway Nick hit the first target, slightly over-ranged it, we agreed, as it was about 3mm high in the kill the longer target dropped obediently again around 3mm off centre to the left. Nick Murphy who's he when he's at home, doesn't he know I once won a competition many moons ago - when I was young and good looking - o.k. scratch the good-looking part. Anyway I sat down and managed to hit the first target dead centre, well on top of Nick's pellet mark and the second target went DUNK and duly fell over - again dead centre. Right I'll admit I got it at 55 yards but it was more like 53 and I had an almighty split but the split definitely hit dead centre! Nick was the first to congratulate me on my superb achievement.

The next two lanes I dropped a stupid shot so Nick was in front, damn Midlanders why can't they just stick the knife in in the afternoon at least give us some hope. Time for the long walk to the start of the course. On the way people were looking perplexed most had dropped an early shot due to either wind or giving it wind and there weren't any.

The first lane, one to remember for me, Nick had dropped both targets and as I watched I was thinking that it'd need at least half a kill of wind. I sat down and promptly gave the first target edge of kill and it split the other side, same with the second shot. I can't for the life of me think why I didn't come out of the kill, when that's what I'd decided to do only thing to say was the lay off may have been good but it's certainly made me match rusty.

Anyway we progressed to the standers and Nick missed the first easy one and dropped the longer one this continued for the kneelers where the easy one was missed but the hard one fell.

Moving along a bit o.k. I'm getting bored of writing about the morning session, we go to the last lane both five down, Nick sat down and missed the first target, yes, yes, yyyyeeeesssss, oh forgot I'd still got to shoot it. He managed to get the second one. So there I was 1 target up but with two targets to go, try and concentrate on the task in hand, what's the range - dial it in - wonder what's for dinner - Bang - Arrrrrrrrgggggggghhhhhhhh - hang on a mo the pellets moving - it is - it's going to hit - yyyyyeeeeeesssssss the target falls. The final target went as well, yes I've beaten Nick - sorry hard luck matey. Time for lunch.

It soon became apparent that NEFTA had done very well in fact, I haven't seen the results yet, but the rumour went around that we were 20 odd targets up on the midlanders!

Afternoon Session

It couldn't last could it. We'd started on a standing lane and luckily for me both targets went, as they did for Nick. The next lane beckoned, nothing out of the ordinary Dunk…..Dunk. How, What, Where, When, Why? Both pellets had struck high and left!

Things got a lot worse over the next couple of lanes I dropped a couple more for no reason, o.k. the reason was wind but ho hum. I was now four down on Nick when he decided to miss a target or two, thank you kind sir. Paul Wheatley and Bobby were returning from the end couple of lanes having missed all of the targets, none too surprising then that Bobby wasn't too chuffed.

This course was definitely longer than the first, them bloody kneelers 45 & 46 yards ouch. I was very lucky, as I've said many times before I always struggle on the kneelers, I either clear them all in a course or miss them all. Both the targets fell obligingly as did Nick's, he was certainly on a flyer.

After the kneelers the targets were set out in open fields, this should be good for a laugh, the first lanes targets fell but on the second the wind whipped the pellet across on the longer of the targets, Nick said he aimed straight at them both, must have a special barrel this Zenith of his?!?

The course then swapped back across and targets were once again set in the wood, I strung a couple of targets together then was caught out by a hidden breeze and guess what Nick went straight for them, I finished the back end of the course 8 down Nick was down 3, decisive action was needed. For the remaining shots I decided no matter what I thought the targets needed give em double!

Giving double the amount of wind worked for me but there was no way I could catch Nick. I did manage some consolation when he managed to drop another target. I finished 8 down, not good at all, Nick 4. Overall Nick had done me by 3 targets oh well and I thought he was a good shot, just kidding.

Now the stand off begins, people try and work out who's won what by how much and generally take the mick of each others shooting prowess - well they certainly had something to laugh at with my score. The news then came through that NEFTA didn't really want to hear we'd been beaten by 12 targets - it gets closer every year, at least NEFTA had taken the top three placings. Three again Baines had won the shoot, Ian Taylor came second with Andy Calpin third.

Moral to the story, same as most of my report cards at school must try harder.

Role on the Inter-Regional's.