Well this is where I’m going to announce it…my move to trap shooting!
Only joking, the plan is very much to stay with Sporting and FITASC for a few more years yet. However, having scored higher on both the Single Barrel and Automatic Ball Trap in all but one of my four All-Round competitions since lockdown, I do wonder if I can even call myself a sporting shooter anymore! When I last did a blog update, I wrote about the struggles of coming out of lockdown and how I was hoping to get back on track with my shooting. Thankfully, shortly after writing that I got back on track with a good shoot at Owls Lodge. The first stand started as the previous shoots had gone: I hit the first pair, missed the next two, and then hit the last pair. I definitely thought the shoot was going to be a struggle at that point, and yet all of a sudden from the second peg onwards, everything started working properly again. I went on to finish with 85/100, 1st in Ladies and a huge amount more confidence than I went into the shoot with. I guess that just goes to show that whatever rough patch you’re in with your shooting (and we all have them), some good form is only just around the corner if you keep going.
The timing of this was perfect as I had major competitions for the next four weekends. First up was the British Compak, where I was really pleased to win Ladies and my first Compak national title. Next, was the Hull Cartridge Pro One Challenge at Barbury. This was a great competition as I shot 102/120 won Ladies on countback after tying with Hannah Gibson and more importantly beat my Dad! I’ve beaten him once a year every year since 2016 but he was shooting really well and I was worried that with the reduced season I wouldn’t get a chance to this year but luckily, I managed to sneak in a cheeky win. It was also great to catch-up with David, Patsy and Sam from Hull Cartridge. So much of a brands appeal is in the people associated with it, and the people at Hull are the very best. It is always a pleasure to get to see them, and I am so grateful for their support. We were back at Barbury the weekend after for the UK FITASC. This was the first national title I ever won when I first won it in 2016 and so it always holds a special place in my heart. I was really pleased with my performance, I led from the first layout of the first day all the way to the last layout on Sunday, eventually winning by 8 clays. My FITASC has been really up and down over the last few years, and the main aim of getting my custom stock from Krieghoff was to make my FITASC shooting much more consistent, so I was absolutely over the moon to show that at this competition and win another national title.
The next challenge was the English and British All-Round. Since these were local to me at Brook Bank, I wanted to make the most of the opportunity to shoot something different. In previous years I’ve only been able to shoot 100 All-Round maximum, so I really enjoyed getting the opportunity to shoot 400 reg this year. The English Open on the first day honestly exceeded all of my expectations. I started on skeet, finishing with 23/25 which is average really, I wouldn’t expect to shoot less on skeet unless the weather was bad but also, it’s my least favourite discipline so I’m always happy to get through it with a decent score. I then moved on to the trap disciplines shooting a 25 straight on Single Barrel and 24 on ABT. I was really pleased with my performance but also very aware that I often shoot the trap disciplines well only to come unstuck on the sporting. However, not even the big tower bird on stand 1 put me off a I recorded a 23 on the Sporting to finish on 95/100. I knew I had shot well but didn’t expect to be the joint highest score overall, which I found out I was tied with Ian Mulliner. I was ecstatic with this and having delayed going down to Cornwall on holiday I was glad it was at least worth it! The shoot off was drawn to be on ABT; given that Ian is an England ABT shot and I have only 100 ABT ever in my life, it would always be tricky to win. Having said that, I love ABT and had never shot less than a 23 so knew I had a chance. In the end I shot another 24, my second of the day, which I was really pleased with for a sporting shooter, but Ian just beat me with a 25. Massive congratulations to him, I enjoyed getting to shoot off with him. I ended the day with my best ever results – Runner Up overall, 1st in A Class and 1st in Ladies. So even though I didn’t win the High Gun shoot off, I could not have been more pleased.
We were back at Brook Bank on Sunday for the British All-Round, I was happy with my performance although it was not on the level of the day before, finishing on 87/100. I did at least score my best score on Sporting with another 23, so maybe I can at least call myself a sporting shooter! I was really pleased to finish the British as Ladies High Gun as well, to complete the double in Ladies. All in all, it was a fantastic weekend with good results and good squads, and well worth being a day late arriving in Cornwall for our holiday. Congratulations to all the winners across both days. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to get to shoot more All-Round this year, as I do absolutely love it. The light Krieghoff Parcours performs pretty well for as a trap gun too!!
This left me with just the South West All-Round to win to complete the full sweep of county, regional, English and British titles in All-Round this year. I shot that this last weekend, finishing on 88 and completing the full sweep of titles which I am over the moon about! Again though, Single Barrel (24) and ABT (23) were my highest scores, so perhaps I am a trap shooter in disguise after all. I have to say (much to my Dad’s despair) I really do enjoy shooting a bit of trap and maybe I’ll have a go at it properly in the future – I guess we’ll have to wait and see! First though there are a few more things I want to achieve in Sporting. Since it’s basically the end of the season now, the next 6 months will be all about building to 2021 where I hope to achieve some of those goals and also make the England and GB teams again – I have enormously missed shooting with my best friends and teammates both at home and abroad this year, and hope we get the opportunity to do so in 2021.