Should you take up tar­get shoot­ing? Gary Chilling­worth ex­plains the joy of com­pet­ing

Gary Chilling­worth tells us just why he loves HFT so much

Air Gunner - - Contents -

Al­most ev­ery month I get mes­sages from peo­ple ask­ing whether or not they should take up tar­get shoot­ing. They of­ten want to know why peo­ple like me travel all over the coun­try to shoot tin chick­ens, and ask what I get out of it. Also, I am of­ten asked how we should go about join­ing a club and what sort of rules there are. Well, this is a pas­sion of mine so I feel that I can an­swer with hon­esty.

Yes, I am to­tally in­sane to drive a 400mile round trip to shoot 30 tin chick­ens and pos­si­bly win a small plas­tic tro­phy, but driv­ing around the coun­try to take part in a sport that I love is an amaz­ing thing for me. I have made many friends from all over the UK, many from Europe as well, and with­out events like the UKAHFT Na­tional se­ries, I would never have met these peo­ple.

DIF­FER­ENT TYPES

For me, there are three types of com­pe­ti­tion in HFT; a club comp, a mid-level win­ter se­ries, and the UKAHFT Na­tion­als. I started my shoot­ing life at Cam­bridge HFT and this won­der­ful club helped me to cut my teeth in com­pe­ti­tion. Find­ing a lo­cal club is es­sen­tial for all shoot­ers. At your lo­cal club, be it HFT or FT, there will be a wealth of help and ad­vice. Peo­ple will of­ten let you try their guns and scopes and will help you to im­prove at a sur­pris­ingly quick rate. For ex­am­ple, at Cam­bridge I was strug­gling with a ri­fle’s lack of power and con­sis­tency. I men­tioned this to a few shoot­ers and within 30 min­utes my gun was stripped, fixed and put back to­gether. This is what a good club can do for you. I learned so much from the peo­ple around me, and it is al­ways a joy to pass this on to new shoot­ers.

The thing is, though, once you have been shoot­ing at a club for a while, you start to learn its ge­og­ra­phy; you know that the big tree over there is 35 yards from the fir­ing line, and that the back of the woods is 40 yards away. If you are not care­ful, you can be­come a home ground wiz­ard, but when you travel, you can get torn apart be­cause you don’t have lo­cal knowl­edge.

This is why you need to look for a small se­ries, like the Air Arms South­ern Hunters, or the Day state Mid­land Hunters. Both of these se­ries are per­fect for the new com­pe­ti­tion shooter to cut their teeth in the tour­na­ment world. The ad­van­tage with shoot­ing a se­ries like this is that you will

be with your mates from your home club, but you will visit many shoot­ing grounds in the lo­cal area. At events like the Mid­lands and South­ern, and even the Gaunt­let se­ries up north, you will shoot cour­ses that will have been set by course set­ters of na­tional, or even world- class qual­ity, and even though the events will not be as full on as a na­tional, they will be test­ing.

IN­TER­NA­TIONAL EVENTS

This then brings us to the na­tional, world and in­ter­na­tional events. The UKAHFT is the pin­na­cle of the HFT world and the GP se­ries is the same for FT. Now, I can­not speak for FT, but I can tell you that even if you are new to tour­na­ment shoot­ing, the Na­tion­als are not a scary place to be. We have kids, ladies, fam­i­lies and vet­er­ans as well as the hy­per- com­pet­i­tive mob. The UKAHFT prides it­self on be­ing open to all, but in 2018 we are go­ing one step fur­ther.

Air Arms runs a memo­rial shoot ev­ery year, the RSN10, and for many of us it’s one of the high­lights of the shoot­ing cal­en­dar, but in 2018 there won’t be just the RSN10, we’re also go­ing on hol­i­day to Hol­land.

On July 7th, the in­au­gu­ral Air Arms In­ter­na­tional will take place at FT Schalkhaar, near Devent­ner in Hol­land. This event will be run to 2018 UKAHFT rules and will be a 30-shot course on the Satur­day. The night be­fore is go­ing to be a night shoot and a huge bar­be­cue, and this is why I shoot HFT.

GREAT FRIENDS

For me, to be able to travel to Europe and shoot with peo­ple who love the same sport that I do is won­der­ful. HFT is a fam­ily and even though we don’t al­ways get along, we are al­ways there for each other. Also, on a Sun­day, I can­not think of a bet­ter way to spend a few hours than shoot­ing a ri­fle, eat­ing a ba­con roll, drink­ing some tea, and calling each other id­iots for miss­ing a sim­ple shot.

Whether you are a hunter or a plinker, please find a lo­cal club and give it a try. There is no doubt that it will help your shoot­ing. The ban­ter and the fel­low­ship will help your blood pres­sure, but play­ing with other peo­ple’s ri­fles will cer­tainly not help your bank bal­ance be­cause al­most ev­ery week I see new kit that I lust af­ter.

If you fancy join­ing a club, then check out the ‘club finder’ sec­tion on www.shoot­ingthe-breeze.com. For in­for­ma­tion about the na­tion­als it’s www.ukahft.com, and the South­ern Hunters and Mid­lands Hunters have a large pres­ence on Face­book and shoot­ingthe-breeze. Fi­nally, if you fancy a trip to Hol­land, it would be great to see you there and you can get more in­for­ma­tion at www. airarms-in­ter­na­tional.co.uk

Not all our tar­gets are chick­ens

A club day is al­ways a fun day

Leon Peute is a reg­u­lar shooter from Hol­land and a good mate

This pic is what HFT is all about, from the young to the old, fat and thin, ev­ery­one to­gether in the same sport

You are never too young to start and a club is a safe en­vi­ro­ment to learn

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