Held at Emley Moor, Yorkshire last weekend, this is one of the most prestigious events on the FT calendar with a slightly different format to the standard competitions. Once again, our roving reporter, James Kay was competing along with Jacob and David Elvin and he brings us this report ………..
“Go on give it a try, it’s one of the best shoots on the calendar ” was all that was needed for father and son duo of James and Jacob Kay to Join the Pink Panther himself (David Elvin) at what turned out to be a most enjoyable weekend. Well what else is there to do on a bank holiday weekend other than to look forward to 88 standing shots, 8 kneeling and 72 sitting shots!
Given that this was the 31st NEFTA Classic the format has to be a winner. Shooters are split into two main groups – group one would shoot the FT course in the morning and the Silhouettes in the afternoon and Group two silhouettes in the morning and FT course in the afternoon. Silhouettes were a first for both myself and Jacob – how hard can it be!!! They look so small to the naked eye – a bank of 5 targets of varying sizes set out at 20 yards, 30 yards, 36 yards and then 45 yards. All set out in the aptly named shed of doom!! You shoot at each ‘bank’ once in the allotted time, rest reload and then re-shoot the same rack before moving onto the next rack behind to repeat the process. Despite being fixed to the ground – for me anyway – the Silhouettes would not stay still. First shot off first one down – not a bad start – then it went miss hit miss – you know the score. After an intense session, 17 of the 40 were hit but at least it was one from each rack thus avoiding a duck badge. one rack even saw 4 out of the 5 go down – so close to getting a 5 badge – well that was the aim and remains the aim for next year now as Sunday saw the 17 fall to 14 out of 40 for me this included the accumulation of a duck badge – that actually turns out to be quite cool so i now wear it with pride.
Meanwhile over on the FT course – set out in beautiful bluebell woodland – the FT course had appeared at first flat but long, however as any Andy Calpin course is it soon turned out to be slightly different with interesting angles and massive height changes. Target 1 being nearly full distance but elevated possibly 50 feet above the shooting position to ‘ground level. The nature of the land also lent itself to shooting across valleys from the side of a valley thus making the shooter think about their position and stability. I will call this the white course – simply because they were white targets with black kills – not our normal and not that easy to spot when at distance but you soon adjust.
The nature of the weekend sees you paired with a shooting partner for the whole weekend – they score you in the shed of doom and you score them. Then on the FT course it’s the same. I was paired with John Amos (king of the spring gun and overall recoiling winner of that class at the 31st NEFTA classic) and Jacob was paired with Simon Francis. They say you learn from shooting but this weekend taught me you learn just as much from watching your shooting partner. Moreover it taught me how lovely this sport is as we sat in the midst of beautiful countryside with great company and fresh air. Anyway back to the FT and Jacob put in a 33/40 shooting in the morning – I had high hopes, single figure misses will do. Alas some tricky wind (yes it was windier in the afternoon – well we’re sticking with that, saw me finish on 23. So from 80 shots i had exactly 40 (17+23). Jacobs Saturday had gone well as he added to his 33 on the FT course with a 26 on the Silhouettes – but he had also earned himself a 5 badge on the chickens (20 yards) for clearing all 5 targets on the rack. I had a lot to do if I wanted to hit 75 % of the targets over the weekend as I now needed to be clear on the 40 silhouettes plus 40 on the FT course. For clarity no one out of all the shooters cleared the Silhouettes and only Nick Murphy went clear on the FT course.
Again starting on lane 1 I managed to complete my first row of 10 targets at a shoot after seriously thinking about how to impress my shooting partner. For those first 5 lanes I was a shot up on him! However target 11 soon put pay to my chances of a clearance as did a long standing shot down into a ravine. Not sure of the angle below our feet but it was steep, or so we thought until we got further around the course. Whereas on the Saturday we were low shooting up – today we were on high ground shooting low To say some of the targets had a 45 degree drop is no over estimation. As we all know – well we soon find out – when shooting at an elevated target it’s the horizontal distance the pellet travels not the distance to the target that is key. Some shooters had ‘charts’ to work this all out, some just aimed low, at least now I know why it was important to pay attention in Maths class when working out angles of triangles and lengths of its sides!! The good news was that the ‘aim low’ camp still had some success. I finished the FT course with 32 from 40 and only missed one positional shot. All was looking good for the shed of doom in the afternoon. Jacob re-joined me at lunch and had acquired another 5 badge this time for a rack of rams in the morning Silhouette shoot – on seeing my morning score on the FT course he knew he had to concentrate so he wasn’t beaten by his dad. He didn’t disappoint and posted came away with only 4 misses.
Due to a Technical Information Technology error Jacobs 122 combined score should have been good enough to place him 4th overall in his grade, However he didn’t get to receive this award on the day, only to arrive home to find an apologetic email from the organizers promising him his prize when they next meet up. My combined score was good enough to keep me out of the bottom 10 (my main aim) and on a list of the scores I wasn’t in that group. However Jacob did take pleasure in letting me know that two shooters were shooting ‘sporting’ and one Spring so I was actually in the bottom 10 PCP. Even more determined for next year now.
If you’re a parent reading this as a non-shooter then please consider shooting alongside your children. It’s a great sport to do together and watch them grow. I know from my own perspective I have seen how shooting has had a positive impact on my son. Sadly the days of him needing me to drive him around and me saying I am only doing this shooting as i am here have long since passed. Fortunately the frustration of missing still pushes me to put it right on the next shot. Get yourself down to the club, share the frustration, enjoy the satisfaction of a hit and get the bug. Watch your children develop, learn new skills, how to make decisions, interact with a variety of people, learn to deal with disappointment, learn the importance of preparation and concentration. FT Ticks so many boxes – get involved – or if you’re already involved get shooting more.