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- Last updated: 29/08/2018
The Grand Prix (GP) series is basically what it says it is, a series of shoots, all with 50-targets, set to the highest standards and shot under different conditions. We started in late April with a trip up to the North East of England to Redfern FTC. The firing line was one I have shot before, arcing around the woods in a 360 circle, though I will say putting a standing lane at the top of the climb back up the bank was a daft idea! It was also for me too long a course, in that there were over 20-targets (out of 37 sitting full size kills) between the ranges of 50 and 55yards! To say the least it was somewhat ‘samie’ from shot to shot and coupled with a lack of wind and then invisible wind, it was for me not that enjoyable. I struggled, like many others, missing 11 out of 50 targets. The shoot was won with a fine 47 ex 50 set by Mark Basset in the A.M. session, then matched by Andy Calpin in the P.M. session.
Round two and we were off to Essex, Springfield Air Rifle Club, who last held a GP in 2007. At that time, I was in ‘B’ grade and hit 34 ex 50! ‘AA’ grade this year and I hit 10 more targets for a 44 ex 50. Trouble is, my fellow Welshman and top cheesy grinner, Doz Falconer only missed one, for a superb 49 ex 50! The course was a bit more of a mix than GP 1; mostly straight line through a wind-shy wood, not much of a test with all shots being inside the kill in the wooded section, but at least the ranges were much better spread out, with not so many long shots. I would have liked to have seen another five lanes out in the field, as I was having a poor day on the standers, missing three and even a kneeler for four of my six missed shots. I did however finish on a high at GP 2, by somehow hitting 19 of the 20 silhouette targets, to finish joint top scores in the ‘side shoot’. Pretty amazing when you consider I missed 50% of the standing targets on the FT course!
GP3 and it was another long trip, this time up near Bolton to Rivington Marksmen. Again, it’s been about 4-years since this club held a GP and it must be said that was and still is the windiest FT shoot I have ever seen, no real test of shooting skill, it was more pot luck. Thankfully, the wind was down a notch or two and the course again was a better mix of ranges, set along a Gully, where the wind defied physics and then into a nice open field section; proper ‘Field Target’. We started in 15mph winds, which, by the half way stage, were joined by 25mph gusts; so, just holding the gun steady was a challenge.
Indeed, at GP3 I used up my full 2-minutes a lane and was given the last 10 seconds count down about 7 or 8 times. Usually, I will never use more than about 80 seconds! Despite the wind and the fact that I came off with my worse score in the GP season so far, my 37 ex 50 was good enough for 5th place. Have to say, as hard as it was, I loved the shooting. It was anything from inside kill to 75 mm outside, a real thinking course that shows up some competitors’ ability to shoot in the wind, if only the rest of the GP season could be like this! Dan Eley topped the sessions with a 41, with Andrew Gillott just scraping past the chronograph and smashing 40-targets in second. Amazing to think these were the only two shooters from over 100 entered that managed to finish with their score starting with a 4!
So, with three out of eight shoots done, there are some familiar faces poised to take top spots and some others waiting in the wings. It’s best six from eight scores and despite some early season trouble with pellets and gun not getting on too well, I still say my money is on Air Arms team member Jack Harris to win the series. Dan ‘The Man’ Eley, is, however, on top form and with his switch to the 10.3-grain heavy pellets this season, he may have enough to hold off the current double GP and World Champion in many people’s opinion, but my £5 is staying in Wales!
Team Air Arms is in fine form in ‘A’ grade, with the current top three all being EV2 or FTP shooters. Likewise, big Robbo is leading ‘B’ Grade with his FTP and my own apprentice, ‘Dr X’ (Simon Poulter) is using his Ostler EV2 to storm away in C grade. I will update again after GP6, and by then my £5 will, I am sure, be safe!