FT Blog: The Usual Suspects?
By: James Osborne
Simon Evans steps into James Osbourne’s shoes as our new FT correspondent and we’d like to welcome him to the team!
I’m new! For those who don’t know me, I am Simon Evans and started FT in 1989 at Tondu FTC, had a break for family and came back in 2006. To be asked to take over from James (El Capitano) Osbourne is indeed an honour and of course daunting, but here goes!
I’m in a position to see what is happening in FT in a different way to most, as I am also the BFTA grading officer. That means every time a Field Target shoot is held (to BFTA rules) the results are sent to me for ‘grading’; at least nearly every time!
Thus, over the winter in the various regional leagues, I have seen some good improvements in some shooter’s scores. So who will be the ones to watch in the summer 2016 BFTA GP season (which kicks off on April 24th at Meon Valley) ?
You will have the usual suspects that could fill the top 10, but of course I don’t know who will be doing the whole series, as opposed to perhaps just the local GP (Grand Prix). But I won’t be far wrong in saying 2015 Champion Jack Harris will be one to beat. His fellow Welshmen Mark ‘Berty’ Bassett is back after his usual “I am not shooting FT” Winter announcement. Maybe this is Berty’s year, having been so close so many times? Dorian ‘Doz’ Falconer is on top form and I’ll throw myself into the hat as another, on-form Welshman, sort of! Did I mention we won the World FT Team title in Lithuania in 2015! WAFTA. (Wales) has a lot of good shooters at present!
However, I know one person I will have to out shoot this year is my good friend Justin Wood. In 2010 Justin was 3rd in BFTA Grade A to myself in runner up spot. Since then we have been fairly evenly matched in ability and are now both AA grade that can beat anyone. However, ‘Woody has started doing that when it counts. He won the CSFTA Winter league again in 2016, the fourth time in a row he has been champion. Then on April 2nd at Tondu FTC (my club!) he put in a superb performance to win the BFTA Championship title on 37 ex 40. Others to watch out for; Dave Schofield, Andrew Gillet, Ian Jerram, Ian Taylor, Andy Calpin, Mark Stenton, Dan Eley and some bloke called James Osbourne!
2016 BFTA championships and inter regional
Tondu FTC stepped forward; well I actually volunteered the club, then told them we were going to be very busy to host this year’s Champs and Inters weekend, the ‘Season Opener’ as it is termed. Saturday is BFTA Championship day. The course was set along the top banks and ponds at Tondu, an area that is usually very windy and a real tough challenge. Of course that meant there was hardly any wind come the day and when it did turn up, take it from me it was just a breeze! Still it was a tough course, with enough long shots to test the best and it goes without saying it was raining, at least for half the day!
Lane two was perhaps the hardest on the course and out of the three he missed, eventual 2016 Champion Justin Wood missed both 51 and 53.5 yard shots in this lane. He got to Target 31, another 52.5 yard shot before he missed again and that was for the last time. A superb 37 ex 40 was one ahead of Simon Higgins who had also braved the rain to go through early. I think it is fair to say Woody was not only a popular winner, but a deserved one.
As I write, Inter Regional day has just gone. The top 15 or so shooters from each of the regions around the UK compete as teams, at least those that can get their shooters to travel do! And the course, having only ever been used once before in a gale, was new to all, so no real home advantage. From the 15 team members, it is the best 8 scores that count. Little or no wind saw much higher scores, and thus slightly happier shooters in most cases, even Gilly smiled!
The higher scores from all meant it was a tighter completion than in some previous years and there was a twist in the tail. Lately, the winners have either been MFTA (Midlands) or NEFTA (N. East) but this year, headed by BFTA Champion “Woody” on a superb 39 ex 40, CSFTA were looking good. Now I can’t say that my fellow Welsh shooters were looking good, but they were shooting superbly. “Doz” and Jack came in on 38, old timer Rich Beaugie on 37 but there were also outstanding scores from Paul Maher (34) and Brian Langford (36) to really make it a fantastic Team Win from CSFTA. Suppose I had better mention that “Ozzy” chap cleared the course (40 ex 40) to help MFTA into third spot.
1st WAFTA 288
2nd CSFTA 284
3rd MFTA 283
4th NEFTA 279
5th SEFTA 274
6th SWEFTA 253
7th FFTA 241
8th NWFTA 178
Next month, we will see how the GP season started in the different grades, and I will explain how the grades system works. The rough idea is that you compete against shooters of similar ability only, but I’ll go through it in detail.
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