In­tro­duc­tion to FT

Martin Calpin re­ports on the Paul James Re­coil­ing Cham­pi­onships, at An­ston

Airgun World - - Contents -

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!

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