Ft Blog - Ladies Excuse Me!
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- Last updated: 27/04/2020
The BFTA Grand Prix (GP) season is nearly upon us, as it all starts on April 19th with Round 1 staged in the Midlands at Far Coley. The event will be sponsored by H&N and, thanks to the hard work of Mark Lawrence, there are 120 tins of pellets up for winner’s prizes. Indeed, each of the 8 GPs are sponsored this year, so a great job by Mark for his negotiating and organisation in the background. JSB are Round 2 sponsors, so again a load of pellets and other branded gifts are sure to be popular prizes.
Perhaps the pick of the GP Series in terms of on the day prizes is no 3. Blaina Gwent for the Welsh GP sees a TX200 up for grabs, as Air Arms have stepped up with this great prize, and good job its local to me! GPs 4 and 5 are the double headers in the NEFTA region, Ratworks and Hydrographics have vouchers and some clothing up for grabs. GP 6 sees £250 of Rowen engineering vouchers as the main prize while Optics Warehouse are sponsoring GP 7 at East Devon, nothing listed as yet but you would hope it’s a scope, to go on the
GP 8 is one I’m looking forward to, as it’s at Rivington riflemen ground. Always a windy shoot, it suits me, and it has the advantage of being the traditional ‘Napier GP’, so I may win another Napier cleaning kit, which would be handy, as mine is running out!
Full dates and venues can be found at https://www.thebfta.net/calendar-2020/ The series (best 5 scores to count from 8 rounds) main prizes will also be up for grabs at GP 8, which is the final round. An Anschutz 9015 with ‘Tench conversion’ is sure to be popular and indeed the Air Arms S500 (new rifle) is also up for grabs! So, two happy BFTA card holders will be driving away with some excellent prizes. No doubt the afternoon session will be fully booked for this one!
Surprisingly, I’m ruling myself out of contention this year, as I don’t intend travelling to more than two or three GPs. A typical GP day, if shooting the PM session, is up at 6am, travelling 7 to 11.30am, shooting 1pm to 5 pm, travelling back home 5.30 to 10pm, and I’m finding it’s just too long a day for 50-shots. If I wanted to do the AM session, my timings would be more like - up at 2.30am, travelling 3.30 to 8am, shoot 9 till 1pm, home by 6-7pm! So, in reality it means an overnight stay for a day’s shooting. I’ve tried getting double header GP weekends organised, and although we have one this year, again it’s just not enough to temp me and others I know into the series. Still, I hope eventually that all or the majority of the rounds will be double headers, as it not only makes the travelling worthwhile, it then frees up another weekend!
The proposed formula is simple enough - of the seven regions that can currently hold a GP, there are five that could hold double header weekends, so 10 shoots with five results to count. Those that insist they only want to do a day’s shooting, can do so. The two regions that don’t host a double header can hold either the BFTA Inters or Masters weekends, both of which are double headers and have been very popular and well attended for many years!
I think the travelling and associated costs are a factor for many these days, especially younger shooters. We are just not seeing that many youngsters at GP or indeed local shoots anymore. You don’t see many ladies either, which is a shame. FT is not really a sport that should be male dominated when the physical requirements are considered. I’d love to see one of the UK lady shooters push for the series win. However, as I have just set the grade boundaries for 2020 and there are currently no ladies in ‘AA’ grade, it’s an unlikely outcome at the moment.
That’s not to say it can’t happen in the future; we have a few ladies that shoot to a good standard, such as Mel Hills. She and her partner, Terry Holt, have recently set up Frobury FTC near Basingstoke, so with plenty of practice now on hand, I can see her progressing this year with her Air Arms FTP. Another southern-based lady I’d like to see have a go at the national series is Bethany Pitman. Still young at 17 and starting to show some good improvements in the winter series with her custom AA S400, she, I think has potential to go quite a way up the ladder yet. Topping that ladder at present is the pocket rocket Natalie Sheard. Having come runner up in the lady’s class at the 2019 World FT Championships, she definitely has potential AA grade within her grasp, and who knows, another potential series winner in coming years?
Sadly, one of our great ladies of FT, Paula Higgins will no longer be with us having passed in February. She was one of our ‘back room’ staff, always helping out with booking in and scores at events. A beautiful person inside and out, she will be greatly missed in FT and I’d like once more to say thank you for all your help in the sport over the years.