Introduction to FT
Martin Calpin reports on the Paul James Recoiling Championships, at Anston
Sometimes, this sport just comes together and delivers a great day for a charity, as well as a good day’s shooting, and I’m lucky enough to be involved in such an event - the Paul James British Recoiling Championship. Every year we get 200 people in the woods at Anston Field Target Club to shoot springers for a day. Not only does the event attract the top shots from all over Europe, but we also get a lot of people who come just for the fun of it. We’ve raised over £12,800 for the Prince of Wales Hospice, and that’s something of which the whole community can be proud.
Preparation starts months before and you’d be surprised how much actually goes into organising an event of this scale. So, let’s talk about that this month because, as you lot are the future of the sport, there’s some stuff you’ll need to know.
On paper, setting out a course looks so easy, but there’s an incredible amount of work and creative thinking needed. Not only does the course need to challenge the top shots, but it also has to take those at the bottom into consideration. Setting a super-long course with all the targets directly in front of you is incredibly unexciting, and will have all the shooters bored to tears after five lanes. You need to be really creative and think about balance. Everyone remembers a well-framed target; those at odd angles, up trees, and even close ones freak people out because they are left wondering why it’s there! Mix it up a bit, and remember, you only need about 15% of your targets to challenge the top lads. Luckily for us at Anston, we have three great course setters in Graham Cooper (Chairman), Andy Calpin (Secretary) and Simon Higgins (Top Grass Cutter). These three, along with 40 other members, cut out the course and make sure that it’s perfect.
I don’t think I ever looked at the weather so much in my life before I started shooting. You need to know what kind of day it’s going to be because that will significantly affect the type of course you put out. It’s pointless banging out a super-long course with everything set to max’ if you know a 30mph wind is due in. All you’ll be remembered for is being an idiot!
If the weather changes on you at short notice, be prepared on the day to make changes. I can still name all the shoots I’ve been to that haven’t done this, and some that repeatedly do change for the weather. I vote with my feet now and just don’t turn up to those shoots anymore. I have nothing against needing to aim off the target plate, but when you’ve reduced the scope’s magnification and you’ve still run out of view, it just feels like pot luck. That’s no fun at all.
Sponsorship is getting harder and harder these days, so you need to build up good relationships and give something back to your sponsors. I write news for them and sort loads of pictures, but we are lucky to have the keen support of Hull Cartridge, Solware, and Air Arms. Don’t forget the small guys as well; every prize doesn’t have to be a gun, so always support the smaller shops and makers in
your area – they’ll be glad of the help. Get the banners up, logos on cards, lane dressings, and do what you can to help sponsors get their name out there without turning the event into one of those horrible, local, free magazines that drop through your letterbox.
This is a forgotten art sometimes. Remember, these are the first people that your supporters will meet at an event, so a friendly face and attitude goes a long way. Make people welcome and give them all the information they need.
Very important for many reasons, but you need to let people know what is expected of them, and that the standard of safety is high.
This year at the Paul James British Recoiling Championship, we attracted all of the top springer shooters and loads of fun shooters. It makes for a great mix, but the competition at the top is always pretty fierce and incredibly close. We set the course a little bit closer this year, and a couple of people at the club thought it would get cleared, but I wasn’t so sure – the sneaky wind at Anston can catch anyone out.
After the first am session, we’d had three scores in that had already topped last year’s winning score. Neil Thorneycroft with a mega 37, Adam Lees with 36, and John Amos with 35. These scores were going to take some beating and would all have won in any other year. We still had some top shooters to come in the pm session, though, so the pressure was on. I’d foolishly placed a bet on former FT springer world champion, Brian Samson or Nick Murphy to win, both have been in great form of late and I fancied my chances. I couldn’t really bet on the world number two, Steve Privett, because I don’t see him that often, but he’s usually on song. Both my picks went down midway through the course – dang! – but Steve was on three for a shoot-off with Neil. Then it happened; dink, a crushing miss for Steve, putting him on four misses in total – this sport can be so cruel sometimes.
After coming second in previous years, Neil had finally lifted the title that he’s always coveted, and I don’t think I’ve seen him so happy. It was a fantastic end to a brilliant day. We raised £2800 for a great charity, and everyone went home tired but happy. Sometimes you just have to remind yourself of how great people involved in our sport are, and make sure you thank them all.
Above: Former World Champion, Brian Samson, taking out two standers, but the damage had already been done.
Above: Neil Thorneycroft finally lifts the trophy. I’m not sure who’s happier, him or me.
Above: John Amos, lining up another perfect shot from that lovely-looking gun of his.
Above: Everyone gets involved at PJBRC, that’s why the vibe is so good.
Above: Young Red shooting the oldest gun on the field, and doing surprisingly well with it.
Above: Packed house, time to relax a bit for the lads who helped put the day on.
Above: Si Higgins, Andy Calpin and Graham Cooper; three of the safest hands in course setting in the UK.
Above: Steve Privett thinking about that final miss – doesn’t look like Andy is helping at all!