Round 9, where has the time gone as it seems only a short while ago we started. But this is the final round where its all to play for, the previous 8 rounds only the top 5 qualified for the Showdown in 2 weeks time. But in the last round 8 places up for grabs. With Richard already qualified it was now down to Andy to pull the finger out and qualify.
I was feeling confident after Round 8 and getting 7/10 positional targets and hoping that form would be carried on with on Sunday. But first we need to get there.
A late start on Saturday, 1130am ferry as only supposedly just over 2 hr journey to Sywell which is near Northampton. We were staying at The Aviator Hotel at Sywell Airport which is about 6 minute drive from the ground. The Hotel is an Art Deco style but also less than a 100m from the edge of the runway where on Friday a P51 Mustang and a Spitfire had taken off and landed from the information received from Andy Slade of Newbury who was making a true weekend of it with his wife. Stayed their last year and its ideal for our needs and is reasonably priced.
Checking the traffic the M25 looked bad so we took the A34 route and passed Silverstone. This is where things went a bit wrong as I changed Richard car satnav to shortest route as we got fed up with it trying to take us via the M25.
It was only when we got to Northampton and ‘trying’ to drive through it that we realised my mistake. Nearly an hour to travel a mile was silly. I got my phone out and used Waze to get us out via some back streets and 15 minutes later at the hotel.
Our just over 2hr trip had now taken nearly 4hrs. A quick book in and head to our rooms for a quick refresh before heading to the bar. We grabbed a couple of beers and then headed out to the veranda. Out here we looked out across the runway, not much flying going on apart from a couple of helicopters. I checked with Andy Slade to see if he had booked a table and he had for him and his wife so we booked one for ourselves and Mick Woodhead would had just come back from a walk and we grabbed a couple more beers.
Andy and his wife Joy then joined us, with a few more beers and said they had changed the booking so all 5 of use were on one table. Andy was a bit sore after slipping in the bath and
landing on his side. Much ribbing was given saying Joy must has greased the bath and was after the insurance. He was thinking he might not be shooting the following day as he might not be able to get up. Found out the day after he had broken his 6th rib so had done a proper job on it.
We sat there chatting about just about everything before heading to the restaurant at 8:15. Here we chose our meals chatting with a few others from other regions that had earlier eating bookings. After some more drinks and food which we had ordered we carried on chatting with all the others leaving. We thought we had best make a move at about 1030 as we were the last to leave.
I awoke about 630 to the sound of hot air balloon burners going off. A few balloons were flying over as part of a Balloon Festival in Northampton. They had not bee able to fly the previous day due to high winds. We left the hotel about 730 and by 736 we were at the ground. We booked in and then headed for the café for drinks and bacon rolls. As we reached there we got informed not ready just yet but would be by 8am so a 10 minutes to wait, so we headed back to the car chatting with a few other shooters. We actually headed to the café about 810 got our drinks and rolls, ok but still reaching Nikki’s level but not at least not a 10-20 minutes wait.
We both had a quick zero check and the waited for the start briefing. Richard was on lane 15 me lane 23. The course was in 3 sections, the main range quite open as part of a 100m Rimfire range, there were 6 lanes here. Plenty of distance and angles.
Next was called the Garden which ran behind the 100m butts and 90 Degrees to the first part. This had the next 5 lanes, here the wind was rather tricky to read and gauge direction. Sometimes it was right to left, sometimes the other way.
The third which is call the Hill of Doom and has that for good reason as all the targets are various heights on a tall bank and different angles.
Starting on lane 23 meant a long walk and upon reaching it found I was shooting with Colin Eaton from SEFTA. Never shot with Colin but had talked to him plenty of times, usually about Holly and what was he up to now. We had a short chat and came the decision we would swap over from shooting first, so going on first names I started first. Not long after making that decision the Whistles blew to start.
We started on a pair of yellow targets, we had noticed as we walked up that the club was using White, Blue and then Yellow painted targets before starting again on white. Just as I sat down the wind picked up a little. The first target was the longer, so after ranging it I decided that I needed to aim off to the right but by how much. I decided about 70mm from entre.
Pulling the trigger I saw the pellet lane what seemed close to the right side of the paddle. Thinking the second target was closer the amount I aimed off about half the distance to see the pellet again land just inside right. However I had cleared the lane. Colin missed both on his turn, but made up for it by hitting both the targets on the next lane being kneelers. Both of us are not keen on blue faced targets.
For me, I missed both of the kneelers but did see that I missed on the left both times. We then headed to lane 25 and a pair of white targets. Just before I sat down the whistle was blown, which was for a question on a target on our first lane as we got asked if we hit or missed. Made me wonder if there was a split pellet.
After the commencement whistle I looked at the target and thought I needed to aim right. Ther was a nice pellet mark just outside on the right, a good aim point I thought until I pulled the trigger and watched the pellet mark get bigger.
Bugger. The next target I kept inside and watched it fall over. That makes 50% in 3 lanes not a good start but plenty of targets left.
Colin got both, now a long walk back to lane 1. Getting back there we had a short break to catch our breath and look at the lane. These were one targets the first being a 15mm which looked very small as the target was a crowzilla and about twice the size of a normal target made the 15mm look really small and designed to get into your head. Wind was a bit Stronger in the openness of the range and windage was between nothing and up to 100mm but at least constant in its direction.
Missed a long stander and then long sitter, then a unexplained pair of misses on lane 5. No wind could be felt but I could see some slight grass movement near the targets. Gave the longer about 50mm from centre to see the pellet land at 9 o’clock.
The second target was closer gave it less wind to see it move more than the first one and land in the group at 9 o’clock again. Colin did the same as me.
A walk around to the next section we were glad of some shade, made me think the afternoon session that field and the other sections were going to be in the sun so it was going to get warmer.
The middle section was a challenge on the longer targets. There was a piece of tape that was in the middle of the bank at the back that gave you a wind indication. Only issue was on the firing line your indicator was going the other way.
Richard had a quick chat on his way to lane one and said he had a poor hill of doom dropping more than a few targets along that bank.
I dropped 4 targets here but cleared a long pair of kneeling targets. As we headed toward the hill of doom again our first lane was a pair of standers. Colin cleared them and I missed the short 25mm low. A case of finger working before the brain, I thought just need to bring the crosshair up a bit more and pull the trigger but pulled the trigger before moving the Crosshair.
For both of us completing our last for lanes we were either struggling to get our heads around the wind, some went straight and some the opposite way that you would have thought. At the end Colin finished on a 30 and me a 32. Richard had finished on a 38 I found out when I go back to the car. A 45 was the top AM score.
After a quick bite to eat and a few cans of drink we walked around with some of the PM shooters chatting and doing some lobbying for next year, more on that in a following short chapter.
We were not heading home early as this was the last round and potential prizes and a raffle. So waiting and talking the afternoon shooters started to come off and our own regional shooter Justin Wood dropped 4 for a 46 with his new to him Air Arms XTI-50. There was going to be a 20-30 minute break whilst they sorted out the final placing. Richard was in 2nd place in A grade at the start of the shoot, would he still be there at the end.
With a raffle being drawn first, with various prizes donated such as pellets cleaning kits and other bits and pieces. Richard got pulled out the hat and grabbed 5 tins of pellets. It then went the final positions in all the grades.
Paul Sommerville finished 4 th in C Grade and got a trophy and goodie bag, including another cleaning kit he has won one in the raffle.
Richard placed 3 rd in A and got a trophy and a goody bag.
After all the presentations we headed back home, hoping for the 8-15pm ferry but knowing its was more like the 10pm especially as we need a little fuel top up. We tried in Brackley at 2 Supermarkets, a Sainsburys and Tesco and both were closed and looked like they did at 6pm. Strange as ours are open to 9 or 10pm. We had to bite the bullet and have a splash at an expensive service stop.
But that’s nearly the end of the BFTA Season for us. Just 2 more events to go the Master and Showdown in 2 weeks and then the British Open 2 weeks after that.
Stay tuned for the next installments of our journey of our FT Season.