FT Blog: World’s Your Oyster
Simon Evans reports back from his favourite international comp and says W F T F?
If there is one shoot each year that I really look forward to, it’s the World Field Target Federation championships, or FT Worlds for short. When it began, there were just a limited number of shooters from only a few countries such as Norway, USA and of course the UK home countries. Now, and especially in the last 5 years, FT has been popping up all over the place, with diverse and far flung locations such as Chile, New Zealand and last year’s hosts, Lithuania.
2016 is Portugal’s turn to host and current WFTF president and top Portuguese shooter Sergio Paulo is doing a grand job of putting together the competition. The three days of shooting culminate on Saturday August 20th when we will know who the 2016 champion is. Hopefully me!
For a shooter, the Worlds starts up to a year in advance and as part of the four man Welsh FT committee staging the 2017 worlds, I can tell you it’s two years of planning! Some countries have so many individuals wanting to shoot that they have to qualify for their country’s team. England for instance holds the qualification at the BFTA European Championships, held at Weston Park game fair each September.
Once entry for the Worlds is confirmed, a shooter then has to source travel arrangements, such as hotels and usually flights. Flying with your very expensive FT rig is an experience. A proper Flight case, such as a Storm or Peli is a must. My teammate Paul ‘gadget’ Davies and I were sat on the plane ready to head for WFTF Germany 2013, I was in the window seat when our gun cases were spotted being loaded.
When you see a baggage handler pick your £3000 FT gun up and throw it 6 foot through the air to bounce its way up the conveyor belt, you’re glad you paid £250 for the protection!
Hassle and fun
Generally, the flight is the worst part of going to the worlds, as you have to do the extra booking in for the gun, explain why in the UK we don’t have licenses, (though the Scots may shortly be past that problem), then it’s just a case of praying your gun is going to the same place you are! And of course it helps when you get to some foreign zero range, that the gun and the scope are generally still pointing in the same direction!
Usually there is one or two days practice/ zero check, a welcome meal and then 3 days of shooting, each day a 50-shot FT course. If you want to be in with a chance of winning, or at least making the top 10 podium, you need to set your sights on not missing more than 10 of those 150 targets. Last year, Russian Sergey Zubenko only missed six, two per day, with Wales’ Jack Harris one behind! I just about made top ten podium with 13 misses! The 2015 winner took home a superb prize of Steyr rifle and Kahles scope, something over £5000 worth. However, for me personally the prize money would mean nothing compared to joining the elite list of world champions. My Welsh team mates and I had a little taste of that in 2015, when our little WAFTA team took 1st place in the team competition. Hardly anyone ever beats England, so it really was an achievement and I have to say, we stand a good chance again this year!
Best ever ft shoot
Above all else though, it’s the places you see, and people you meet at the Worlds that make the event the best FT shoot of the year. I can’t say I would ever have booked a holiday to Norway (2012) and especially not Lithuania. Norway was simply stunning and it’s definitely on my holiday destinations at some point in the future. Lithuania likewise was to say the least surprising. We really did not know what to expect and although some parts of it were rustic, it was again a beautiful venue and a superb World Championships that I will never forget. My first Worlds was Italy in 2011, stunning location and I had never shot in humidity like it. It was a steep learning curve and in the end I was happy to make the top 20. Germany in 2013 was not so much my cup of tea, mainly as the course was largely steep anti-aircraft style shooting and unfortunately my equipment was tampered with, perhaps a prank that went wrong, but it left me out of the running on day one!
The people you meet are as diverse as you could imagine, Alan Otsuka from USA is to say the least mad as they come, hardly hits anything but enjoys it more than anyone. Most speak English, so conversation is usually quite manageable. It is great to see the wild and whacky ideas people come up with for their rigs, anything from digital spirit bubbles to side wheels that Windy Miller would be proud of! I have made great friends from all around the world and that’s worth every penny of the £1000 it usually costs to attend.
It will be cheaper in 2017, as I have only got to go 40 miles to Crickhowel, but what I’m really hoping is that I’ll be going as defending world champion, as well as chief marshal!
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