Gary Chillingworth brings us up to date with the competition news
All the winners from the double-header at Maldon and District, from Gary Chillingworth
The first double-header of the year, shooting on Saturday and Sunday, Maldon and District (M. A.D) has a reputation for being the party round. Shooters come from all over the country and camp, their cars jam-packed with large bottles of elderberry wine and cans of superstrength lemonade, they turn up en masse on Thursday and Friday to start the weekend early, and for 2017, we even had some overseas travellers from Holland.
Maldon has some of the finest shooters in the country and these reprobates not only know how to shoot, but they also know how to lay on a course that will bewitch and beguile, challenge and test the rest of the shooting fraternity. This year, the course setters were Richard Woods, Jean Greatrex and Steve Edmonson and I think that they put on two of the most challenging courses I have ever shot.
Richard is the current UKAHFT champion and he set out a course that was so good that he crashed and burned on it. He made an excuse that he had stubbed his toe before shooting it, but we all knew that this wasn’t true. Rich had spent nearly two weeks setting a course that was both long and technical. The hill, which formed part of it, is well known for striking fear into the HFT world, and this year was no different. I will give you a ‘ for instance’: I approached the peg at the top of the hill and held the string in my hand – the target was 40 yards away and high in a tree – and as I looked at the string, the first 15 yards of it was bending right to left, the next 15 was left to right, and the final bit seemed to be going up and down. So, how on earth do you read the wind with information like that?
IF IN DOUBT …
So, I remembered what a fellow shooter told me once – ‘ If in doubt, give it nowt’, so I aimed down the target’s throat, waited for a lull in the wind and fired. I then watched the pellet fly past the target and into a branch. I hate Maldon and I hate Richard, which is saying something, considering it’s my home club and Richard is a friend of mine.
Day two was much the same; the Sunday course was set by Jean and Steve and although they are fairly new to the world of course-setting, they did a stunning job. The course was just very well set out and there were no easy shots, but my main memory was the fact that the Lord Almighty attempted to drown all the shooters in session two.
We knew that there was a chance of rain, but what we didn’t expect was a shower so heavy that some of the shooters were considering building a raft so that they could get back to the clubhouse. I was lucky
enough to be shooting with Ellis Thomassen – one of our Dutch shooters – and between us, we managed to shoot and huddle under an umbrella or a shooting mat and carry on. There were a few shooters who threw in the towel and ran for cover, but we springer shooters are made from sterner stuff.
Both courses were great, and there was some brilliant night life on the Friday and Saturday. A few shooters chose not to shoot on the Sunday because they had headaches from drinking too much lemonade, but even though there was a great atmosphere, the weekend was tinged with some sadness.
Early in 2017, Maldon lost one of its oldest members. Jim Lowe was a wonderful man and for the last three or four years, he and his wife ran a pistol side-shoot that had become extremely popular. Jim passed away and even though we knew that he was gone, this was the weekend when we realised there was a massive Jim-sized hole left at Maldon. He is sorely missed and will never be replaced.
The Maldon course destroyed nearly everyone, but on day one there were some great winners. In the Open class, Mark Wilson took top honours. He scored a 56 and this was a stunning result. This could be down to the extra practice that Mark is getting. He has opened a new gun shop in Cockermouth, called Aim-Point (www. aim-point.co.uk), but unlike most shops it has a huge rifle and pistol range about a mile away, and for Mark this is a real boon. Mark has proved that with a range down the road, you can really refine your shooting.
The winner on day two was James McLachlan. In the other classes, there was a win on day one in the Recoiling for Rex Bennet. He beat me by a point, but I’m not bitter about it because I took revenge on day two with the win. In the Ladies class, Michelle Parsons won top lady on both days, and in the .22, Edward Tandi was top bomber, but was beaten by Simon Howarth on day two. The Veterans class went to Kent Pothacary on day one, and Mike Burgess on day two, and the Juniors 9-13 was taken by Megan Reed on both days. The 14-16 class was won by Tom Willingham also on both days, the team events were taken by M. A.D., and the manufacturer’s (sponsored by www. soleware.co.uk) was taken by Air Arms on day one and Steyr on day two.
We had some brilliant sponsors, www. jackpyke.co.uk gave £ 600 worth of vouchers for their stunning products – I love my Hunter boots – and JSB gave pellets, jackets and hoodies. There was also a voucher from Aim-Point and targets from Flopover. With all this being given away plus £ 250 in cash each day, there were a lot of very happy shooters, albeit, a bit on the damp side on the Sunday. www.ukahft.com
“a shower so heavy that some of the shooters were considering building a raft”
A founder member and lovely chap passed away in 2017
Team Air Arms is unstoppable this year
The infamous hill of terror
Ellis Thomassen from Holland made the trip to M. A. D and then she had to shoot with me
Former Air Gunner writer Andy McLachlan has dusted of his gun and started to shoot again