FT Blog: I dont want to go to the Olympics!
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- Last updated: 26/06/2017
Back to the cottages and the small industries that have developed around FT in the post 30 or so years. When I started shooting it back in 1989, there were a few companies making FT targets; Knockover, Knockdown and Mead, were what our club had in use. There were one or two others, and a few home made efforts, but generally there was not much option. Rats, rabbits, squirrels and birds were our staple diet. One of the early exceptions was ‘Snappy’ the alligator that came back from an early WFTF event held in the USA. He is still alive and making a splash in the Tondu ponds on competition days. The plate actually flops 90° back and makes a satisfying splash when hit, very entertaining and even funnier when someone mistakenly shoots the reflection of the kill zone in the water! It has been done several times!
One of the things I liked back then was that often the targets would be painted to actually look like a target, so you might have a grey, black or even a white rat with red eyes! Magpies were an art form and of course there was ‘who could do the best whiskers on a rabbit plate’! Bit daft really as we (ok perhaps just me) were such bad shots then, that we used to miss more and therefore ruin the paintwork fairly quickly! Rules now dictate just Black, white or yellow plates, with contrasting paddle, so yellow plate and black paddle; makes sense, but where’s the art?
Jump forward to today, and it’s a bit different. Knockover are still about and it’s still family run. There is a staple traditional design of target but sadly for me they also do some PC targets, more on that later! Please note you can find them at www. nockover-targets.co.uk
There are some very good alternatives today, and generally they all come from small cottage industry style folks, where there’s just one or a few people involved. One of the best are the Spanish targets made by Luis Lopes Paredis of Techno Targets. Although a bit more expensive than most available in the UK, they are made of stainless steel, so they don’t rust (ours have been out for 6 months over winter) if left out on a permanent course. Naturally, being foreign made, there are some odd shapes to the U.K. FT shooter; including, partridge, dove, starling, jackdaw and best of all Dragon (no patriotic influence!). Techno targets’ mechanism has a clever adjuster on it, so should it be positioned on a horizontal surface; it can be adjusted for perfect operation. Likewise Techno silhouette targets are the only ones I recommend and I note the sets of four Spanish racks are becoming the choice around the UK. More info at www. tecnotargets.com
Back home, and HFT shooter, Peter Underwood, decided to put his welding skills to good use, and set up Knockback targets. Again, there is a bewildering array of face plates, from traditional rabbits as well as big floppy eared ones, squirrels and rats etc. One of my favourite Knockback designs, is a huge red kite! Now of course I don’t advocate shooting anything other than legal vermin in real life, but these are just metal plates and when this huge chunk of metal goes over it’s a rewarding sight on my club’s course, mainly as it is at 51 yards and always exposed to wind. Pulling it back up takes nearly as much effort as hitting it over and the plate has to be repainted often! These can be found at www.knock-backtargets. com
So, there are now more target varieties than ever, and this can be used to help us to avoid shooting wrong targets. I.e. have two of the same target in each lane, so lane designation is more obvious.
But it saddens me to hear that there is a chance that these wonderful and imaginative designs could disappear? Are the dinosaurs coming back? No, it is worse than that, it’s the dreaded political correctness rearing its unwelcome head, even in our target-orientated sport! There are plans afoot to make BFTA national course targets all boring non animal shapes- i.e. circular disks, squares or diamond shape plates! These standard shapes I believe first came in via Knockover about 6 years ago or so. Being an old timer I just don’t like them. The theory is shooting animal shaped metal plates is non PC for some! The feeling amongst this group of people is simple: saying we will never get the sport to the Olympics if we shoot (metal) animals!
OK; I understand that it’s just a target, so does it matter what shape we shoot at? It’s the paddle through the 15, 25 or 40mm hole that we want to hit; best not call it a kill zone either! But I don’t see us getting anywhere near the Olympics in what is left of my shooting career! So come on folks; it’s just a metal plate, get real!
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