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The Trials of a BFTA Summer Season. By Andy Winch

Chapter 01 – The Season Kick-Off

The end of the regional Winter season and traditional start of the BFTA Summer season is the BFTA Championship and then the Inter- Regional shoots. A double header weekend with a 40 shot course on Saturday and then another on the Sunday.

T he Saturday shoot is the Championship, were all competitors shoot against each other to find the best of the best. It’s a squadded feed-on event were the higher the squad number the more messed up faceplates become making windage estimation harder. Then there are those faceplates that have hits everywhere so no clue at all.

So the intrepid club duo of Richard Green and Andy Winch header off to represent the club and region at Emley Moor FTC near Wakefield. The start on Friday was not great with howling winds and showers of rain between a light drizzle to a heavy downpours.

The northern journey broken up by a detour to Ripley Rifles for about 5 hours were Richard had his shiny Ripley AR5s serviced after a few seals went in the cold weather of Winter.

Arrival at the Hotel about 730pm and first thing asked are we here for the Wedding party today or tomorrow. A bit of a funny question but said no.

After some food and drink, well we were staying in a pub hotel, sleep was needed for a start in the morning arranging that ideally leaving about 715ish would be fine.

D ay 1 - Saturday

However not the best of starts to the day, it must be noted that with all the smart tech around it is no good if the owner, me Andy, forgets to sync his watch with the phone and only at just before 7 realised that the watch is an hour behind the phone.

A quick shower and we are heading to the ground about 5 miles away and arrived just after 730. No rain forecast only cloud and cold. Order of the day, book in and get a squad number. Benefit of getting there early is low squad numbers and we were both in squad 2 with a provisional start time of 920. Next, hot drinks with a sausage bap with raw onions, our traditional fare, and please Nikki who runs the food van with loads of change.

A quick practice on the zero range and we are ready. Safety briefing and squad 1 called just after 9am, that provisional 920 start for squad 2 heading way out the window. Our squad was called just after 920 so a walk to the Chrono to check for legality, passed a good start, and off to lane 1 to wait in line. Richard was paired with James Head and myself with Jamie Squires both from the SWEFTA region.

T he course ran along each side of an old railway line before heading out into some more open woods.

Richard managed to be the first in nearly 20 shooters to hit both targets on lane one and then next, followed but a little hiccup as the wind got the better of him on the longer targets. Strings showing that the wind ‘should’ be going one way only to find it either did not move at all or went the other way. For Richard this happen on lanes 3-5, 9 & 10 ()now on the other side of the line),13-15 and finally lane 18.

For Andy, well he dropped 6 in the first 5 lanes then a little recovery before having other misses spread out over the rest of the course. Wind was getting gustier. So by lunch time both had finished the course with Richard on a 31 and Andy a 25. Now to wait for all the other scores to come in.

Q uite a few tops shots seemed to struggle, with reported scores of low to mid 30’s.

Cold may well have been a factor as by the time we had finished it was much colder than the morning start. The cold weather affects the equipment making pellets land lower or the sights miss range shorter.

Dan Eley finished mid afternoon with a 30 and when your compare that with his 47 the week before in slightly warmer weather but windier. Speaking to him afterwards he said it was mainly his body had gotten chilled and was shaking too much.

The top score of the day was a 37 and Richard’s 31 put him 5th= in B-Grade and Andys 25 was 20th= in the same grade. A good and challenging days shooting. Hotel and food calling but a return to a packed pub meant a little delay before getting a table and beer. Both had a mixed grill followed by triple chocolate Brownie puddings.

Day 2 - Sunday

With the time pieces correct we were packed and in the car by 710 and at the ground before 730. Food van not quite ready but after a few minutes we had a tea and coffee in hand, no food yet as still full from last night.

T oday is all about the regions. Up to 15 shooters from each region are shooting for the pride of being the best region for 2023. All those participating had been given a squad number and they just needed to sign in and get their card and squad. Richard and Andy were squadded 3 and 4 with Justin and his son Joshua 1 & 2. A little fiddling, well Justin and Joshua had not arrived yet, we all moved up 2 squads meaning we were now 1 and 2. Ideal for us as really needed to head out by 3pm to catch a ferry at a reasonable time, more on that later.

T oday the course started on lane 11 from yesterday. Not quite as cold as yesterday and the wind had dropped. Not all targets were the same as the course setters had moved a few and changed a couple of the standing lanes. Richard started as the 2nd pair on the course and made the most of it by only missing 2 in the first 10 lanes.

As he reached the newer lanes, he carried on with his winning streak dropping another 2 in the next 5 lanes. One due to wind and the other a miss could have been wind or a pulled shot.

The wheels really fell off on the last 5 lanes though, with the wind coming in from 2 directions and strings moving loads or not at all making it really difficult. Richard dropped 5 in the last 5 lanes including both on the last lane.

Andy started about 7 pairs after Richard, and whilst a better start than yesterday still dropped 4 in the first 5 lanes 3 being the in the first 2 lanes. This did include a standing lane which is not his best positions despite all the practice. The next 5 lanes were all cleared meaning one of the ticks for the year has been completed, that being getting a row of 10 hits. On each of the next 5 lanes, 3 targets missed with target 34 being the most extreme. Aiming about 40mm out to the left at a pellet mark, this was another of Richard misses but a handy point of aim, my pellet actually landed about 150mm away to the right.

At the last lane Andy needed to clear both to get level with Richard but Target 39 was a miss so the pressure was on for the last target to get a 30. Well the last target went over so an 5 shot improvement over the day before.

By the time we both had finished it was just after 12, so time for a bit of lunch and hot drink. Nikki had on offer today Curry and chips or Roast pork, stuffing and apple sauce in bap. We both went for the pork. No crackling but nice t hick slices of the pork.

We then spent the next couple of hours chatting to people and supporting others from the region. Top score when we left was a 38 by Dan Eley a good recovery from the day before.

Interesting the range of air rifles in use, yes the stocks my be slightly modified but there were AA MPR’s, S400, EV2 and the XTi along with Steyrs, Ripleys, ISP and a range of Springers as well.

G rabbing our last drink, we started on the return journey. Sat nav saying a time of arrival just after 7pm. A steady drive of just over 4 hours. As we approached the M40/A34 junction a check on the website threw a spanner in the works. The 730 boat had been cancelled the next one was 9pm, how to make a day even longer. So to cheer us up we headed to the brewery across from the terminal for a pint of dark ale.

On the boat the all the scores had been compiled and NEFTA beat MFTA by just 1 target and SEFTA finished in 3rd. The CSFTA finished 7th.

I would like to thank Steve Grimshaw, Colin Eaton, Brian Haych and James Head for taking the pictures which I have grabbed from the BFTA Facebook pages.

The true start of the BFTA GP Season starts after Easter, so the next chapter will be about a few days after.

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