World HFT Championships
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- Last updated: 09/07/2023
When a certain Mr Bainbridge informed me (on the quiet) last year that he planned on staging a World Championship HFT competition around the Northern Shooting Show, up at beautiful Harrogate, I had already decided that this was one event I wasn’t going to miss. Irritating, of course, that it happened to clash with Charlie Boy’s big day up at Westminster Abbey, but the ‘Worlds’ carries a certain prestige that can’t easily be ignored.
Rival organizations now vie for our attention in Hunter Field Target, and rather like boxing, we have the dubious situation where two world championships are staged in the same year. This ‘Worlds’ was part of the WHFTO, which to be fair, does actually rotate the showpiece event around the globe. Next year it’s in South Africa, then I think it’s Columbia! Exciting stuff, if you’re prepared to put the miles in.
Anyhow, back to Sunny Harrogate, and yes, you read that correctly! The dismal forecast that had been mooted only a couple of days earlier simply didn’t materialize. That said, my weekend could have got off to a better start, given that some clot managed to reverse into my car whilst sitting in the queue, as we entered the showground. Nonetheless, it provided me with the perfect excuse for my performance over the weekend, and I took full advantage, I can tell you.
180 shooters from around the world had eagerly booked their place at Harrogate, and with shooters from the home nations, and also Netherlands, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Ireland, South Africa, Poland, Norway, and Hungary, a genuine international buzz was in the air.
As a show venue, the ‘Northern’ takes some beating, with its dedicated high-set exhibition halls and balconied areas overlooking the lawns. However, the area where we had previously shot HFT, shooting under a picket fence, and across the lake, had been commandeered this time by the Dog Scurry personages. How rude.
Our world championship required 2x 40 target courses to be laid out, and apparently, there was a bit of a scramble to find viable locations. One course was set throughout a section of woodland (the Wood course), while the ‘Meadow’ saw targets all set in the open, over grassed areas.
Now, whilst I have the utmost respect for the hard-working team behind the setting up of the courses, my one negative observation for the weekend has to be a couple of targets where the safety margins regarding target positioning, were just a little suspect. I know we were in a compact area, but these shots definitely demanded a level of sound gun handling from the competitor. Enough said.
Day one, and after a safety brief up at the marquee, we all set off around lunchtime. The plan was that everyone would shoot at the same time, and you either shot the ‘Wood’ course or the ‘Meadow’ course. WHFTO use FT-style scoring, meaning if you miss the kill zone, you score zero, and if you knock down the target, you get one point. This differs from the usual generous scoring, and the consensus of opinion seemed to be that this system stops people cheating, as they could otherwise claim to have hit the plate, but actually missed it altogether. Cheating? Yes, it happens in our world too, and the usual system of awarding a point for hitting the front plate is certainly an area that’s sometimes exploited.
Strange wind was to be a key factor on day 1, and with even some of the big names returning surprisingly flat scores come the finish, it was seemingly all to play for. Consider that 32/40 was the highest on day 1, from anyone that finished in the top ten, and it tells its own story.
OK, we’ve shot the first course. Time to put all the kit away and amass around the marquee for the raffle and the big giveaway of thousands of pounds worth of prizes. Scopes, gun bags, stashes of pellets, and two prestigious airguns - an Anschutz 9015 HP in custom laminate stock, and a FAS Chiappa 611, tuned by Ratworks. All of it up for grabs if your number was called! Our shoot entry number was effectively our ticket, but you had to be there to win it. Ian Bainbridge and his now famous tombola machine were the stars of the show, and despite Ian’s impromptu musical outbursts, a good time was had by all!
Come the Sunday, the wind had dropped somewhat, and so it was time for the contenders to look like they meant it, as we all switched target courses. Several big names rose to the occasion, including Dave Ramshead and Alex Honeywell, banging in 38 apiece. Plus, Dan McMahon posted a scorching 39, which was the highest individual course score of the weekend. Brilliant shooting, but it’s the aggregate score that counts, leaving Alex Honeywell top of the pack, without even needing to get his hands dirty in a shoot-off. Elsewhere, little Josh Townsend got a rousing reception for his prowess in the Juniors, whilst Zelda Bothwell raised a huge cheer, for being the first South African shooter in the medals.
Congratulations to Alex, a popular champion on the day, and a big thanks and well done to Ian, Simon, and Bridget Vant, plus the whole team that worked so tirelessly on our behalf behind the scenes. As for the ‘Northern’, with record crowds, it now gets a rebranding to the National Shooting Show, so one for the diary 11-12 May next year.
The event was sponsored by AIM, Anschutz, FAS Chiappa, Doncaster Airgun Range, Form Riflestocks, JSB, PRS, Ratworks, Valiant Optics, Vortex Optics, Wulf, and Optisan.