Holly and Ian were sitting at the plinking range today shooting at the pigeon at 55 yards. One knocked the head down and the other knocking the head up. I suggested trying it standing up which Holly was all up for. After a about 3 shots Holly shot the head down and said it would be harder to hit it back up. Well - after 2 shots my good old FTP900 found the spot and I think it was the first time I’ve seen Holly stuffed for words although “that was a lucky shot” was finally uttered. Yes - maybe I was fortunate but I felt it was an achievement that had me smiling all the way home.
It seems such a long time since the last GP at Purbeck but round 9 at Blackbrook was last weekend. Last chance for me to qualify as I knew I was out of the running for positions in the B grade. Blackbrook is a Shotgun and Airgun club in about 80 acres of lane North East of Birmingham just off the M6 Toll Road. I went up on the Saturday with Richard Green who shot FT at Purbeck and Southampton but wanted to get a 3rd round in to give him a proper grade. Richard shot FT in the 90’s and a regular A grader back then, so really wanted to get and idea of where he might stand. For this round he borrowed Bazza’s Steyr again. Blackbrook had hosted the Inter-Regionals earlier in the year and the comments after that event was that it was a growler with most targets over 47 yards apart from those reducers. I took all that was said with a pinch of salt as the same was said of Tawd Vale but that was again a very enjoyable course. For this round we decided that we would shoot AM and then head back home, having booked nearly 3 weeks ago we could have only guessed on the weather conditions. The forecast during the week was for it to get hot, like really hot. Come Sunday morning, there was some light cloud cover and we left the hotel at 7am hoping for the cloud to stay, however by the time we got to the ground we could see the cloud was burning off very quickly. As the tea van was still being set up Richard and myself decided to walk the course after booking in. It turned out the course we walked was the club course and so our observations of crossed strings and the lengths of the targets on the lanes was not really any good but did give us an idea of what the actual course may look like. By the time we had got back to the tea van, it was up and running so after a breakfast sandwich and a drink before heading for a quick practice session. The ground had been filling up and the temperature was starting to go up as well. After the safety briefing we headed to the course. The wind seemed to come from the right as the course had a right to left direction. The course itself started at the edge of a clearing with the first 3 lanes on the outside edge of the clearing with the targets on the other side. Between lanes 1 and 3 the course had rotated by 90 degrees. These targets had long and medium targets with angles between them. Lanes 4 to 10 carried on through the wooded area with a few slight twists. These targets had various angles and a few up trees, again the targets were not all long but a very good balance of distances. Lane 11 was on the edge of the woods and in the opposite direction with left to right, compared to the Right to Left the rest of the course had. Lanes 12 to 18 ran along a thin strip of trees that had an open area between them and a woodland. This clearing was about 40-45yds wide and the targets placed between the middle far side. After lane 18 you entered what I could only call an oven. This area had been recently cleared and was covered in light brown dead bracken/brambles. The clouds had been burnt off by now and was quite relentless with the heat coming from both the sky and the ground. This open area ran slightly downhill, not steeply but for those right hand shooters you knew your feet were very slightly higher. So what were the scores, top score was a 48 shot in the morning and a 47 in the afternoon. I did a PB for a GP this year with a 38 and Richard a 31. Not bad from Richard considering it was not his rifle and every round had been over 30. For me, I have learnt a bit over the season and hope I can bring this into the CSFTA Winter season which starts in October some 6 weeks away.
Rolled up at the Heart of England showground on the Tuesday before the championships to stay with Colin Eaton and his family. Huge ground with a large lake, woods, restaurant, etc. Wednesday was checking guns output to make sure they are legal and bean bags weren't overfilled. The competitors could use the large zero range after this to check their guns although that was a bit hit and miss as the wind was blowing hard. Thursday, 8am, the first session started on the course in the woods. The weather had now turned to very wet and windy. There were three courses, yellow, black and white denoted by the colour of the targets, the lanes were set in one continuous line so you could be on a yellow lane with white and black either side. Excellent layout, not too stupid distances either. Anyway, I experienced problems noting that on day 1 my rifle, which was set up for 785fps, had dropped to 770fps, not too bad but every day this level reduced so that by the last day it was 742fps. My scores plummeted from 36, down to 30 then 26 over the 3 days! Altogether I have no complaints with the venue and set up, even the leaving meal provided in the banqueting suite was good. Shame about my shooting, now to do some testing.
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