THERE’S A ‘WELL DONE’ IN THE HILLSIDE!
Daniel J. Harris reports from a truly magnificent 2017 field target World Championships
September was a truly memorable month in the sport of FT shooting, as the World Field Target Federation visited Wales for the 2017 World Championships. Over 350 competitors travelled from 29 different countries in their quest to conquer the field target world and take home a prize in the PCP, Springer, Junior, Senior, Female or Team categories.
After a fantastic event held by Portugal in 2016, a new World Champion was crowned.
Welshman, Jack Harris, shot his way into the history books as the first Welsh WFTF World Champ and this September he had the honour of defending his crown on home soil, only a few miles away from his hometown. For 18 months, the organising committee in Wales toiled, met, debated, planned, organised, argued, concluded and structured the biggest-ever WFTF World Championships, and now that the event has come to a successful close, each and every member of the team feels a tremendous sense of pride having showcased Wales and Welsh hospitality to the world.
The WFTF Worlds is a very special event in the FT calendar. Each and every year, shooters from all over the world meet, greet, rekindle old friendships and enjoy some great company, whilst trying to outshoot each other
and make a name for themselves. The competition is always tough – this year even more so – but there’s still always a warm, welcoming and friendly feeling amongst competitors, wherever the competition is held. This year, John Johnston and his team wanted to ensure they found a location that allowed for a great time, a great shoot, and showcased the beauty of Wales.
After several visits to locations across South Wales they settled on the amazing Glanusk Estate. Situated in one of Wales’ designated areas of outstanding natural beauty, and home of the Green Man Festival, the estate sits on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park and along the banks of the River Usk. With over 400 acres of woodland and open parkland and mature oak trees and surrounded by beautiful Welsh mountains, it provided the perfect setting.
The Welsh have a great tradition in field target, having won the Team prize at the 2015 Worlds in Lithuania and several runners up, including Jack Harris’ 2nd that same year, in front of teammates Mark Bassett in 4th, Doz Falconer 5th; Richie Beaugie’s 2nd in New Zealand 2014; Simon Evans’ 3rd in Norway 2012. Until 2016, Wales were always the bridesmaid and never the bride and because the FT world was looking at Wales, the Welsh were keen to shine.
The key objective for WAFTA was to provide a safe and incident-free competition, to ensure that all contenders competed within the rules for a fair championship, and that all visitors enjoyed their time in Wales. The support from the global FT community and the WFTF has been fantastic, with all pushing toward creating a fantastic tournament. John’s attention to detail and his ability to project manage has been worth its weight in gold with the amount of work that is required to pull together a competition of this size, and now the dust has settled, everything went as smoothly as could be and that planning and prep’ work was all put to good use.
Alongside John there was an experienced and passionate team. Grading Officer for the BFTA, Simon Evans, assumed the role of Chief Marshall, as well as course builder for Wales 2017, and official photographer. 2014 and 2015 Veteran World Champion, Richie Beaugie, brought his experience of 13 World Championships to the team and supported John throughout.
WAFTA Competition Manager, Doz Falconer, was involved in course design and building, the Zero Range and Silhouette Competition, and was our ‘wacky’ ideas man. Having been in the top ten in 18 different WFTCs, with a best place 2nd, Doz brings character and experience to the team.
Mark ‘Bertie’ Bassett, the Chairman of the British Field Target Association, headed up the sponsorship team with support from me – Focus Shift Films’ Daniel J. Harris. Bertie has been working with brands from across the globe and airgun spectrum to provide the greatest amount of prizes ever on offer at a World Championships.
The organising committee also wanted to ensure that the location gave a great account of Wales and wowed visitors from around the world. The team knew that this was a chance to show off our beautiful little country, but it needed to be big enough for the event – as beautifully explained by Mr Falconer.
“Everything in Wales is 100 years old and built for little people – not Bertie and Doz!”
Once the venue was selected, the course designed and the wheels put into motion, John Johnston had another big headache on his hands – registration. Traditionally, a long-winded and laborious process, John wanted to do something different. He worked to create an on-line registration platform that many scoffed at, but once it went live it made registration a painless process. The available positions were taken up very quickly, so people began to join the reserves list. Never has a World Championships had so many competitors – but it wasn’t all plain sailing.
‘I spent a lot of sleepless nights trying to get a marquee at a reasonable cost, after we realised we were the victims of our own success and the presentation venue would not be able to hold us all!’ Richard Beaugie.
The support from the airgun world was also amazing, and the value of the prizes on offer and the gifts provided in the welcome packs exceeded £70,000. Air Arms, Steyr, Leupold and several others have been huge supporters of the competition offering big prizes for the top shooters. Steyr had their repair team on site; Air Arms brought their shooting ranges, and Daystate provided air for the event. For the first time, Leupold sponsored a WFTF World Championships and provided on-site support, a prize and became official video sponsors.
Highland Outdoors donated a Nikko Stirling Diamond scope, 50 tins of pellets and £500-worth of Ridgeline clothing; Optics Warehouse also supplied a telescopic sight for the event; BASC donated £1,000 and supplied a stand. There was a range of other prizes and gifts coming from; Daystate, Chiappa, Umarex, Armex, Ataman Rifles, Schmidt and Bender, Kahles, Vortex Optics, Sightron, Hawke Optics, Rowan Engineering, Ten Point Nine Tailoring, JSB Pellets, Aimfield Sports, Sports Match, Sure Shot, H&N Sports, AJP Engineering, Maestro Designs, Aquagraphix, Shooting the Breeze, Flip Targets, LT Airguns, and Solware; Air Chrony was the official chronograph supplier for the WFTC Wales 2017. The amount of prizes and gifts available is
testament to the work of Bertie.
‘It has been a stressful process, as I’m sure everyone involved in organising an event this size would understand, but I’m looking forward to having the event in Wales and showing off the sport in a way it deserves.’ Mark Bassett
Day One of the shoot brought wind and rain, but for the rest of it the weather was as good as can be during September in Wales. Jack Harris scored 46, 46 and 47 (139) across the three days to put him ahead of fellow Welshman, Doz Falconer, by one shot, even with Red Gallagher clearing the more difficult black course on the third day. 2013 World Champion, John Costello, finished in third with 137. As we went into the final day, several men could’ve taken that PCP World Champ title, but current champion, Jack, shot beautifully to pip Doz to the top spot. Doz and Jack were shooting for Air Arms, so company Director, Claire West, was very happy with the results!
‘Little Jack’, as he’s known in the FT world, has been congratulated by friends across the world who never thought it possible for any shooter in the current crop to achieve back-to-back World Championships.
A tremendous amount of thought and hard work went into this incredible event, and we really hope that everyone had an amazing time. Go to the WFTF World Championships, Wales 2017, Facebook page for more photos and videos: www.facebook.com/ WFTFWorldChampionshipsWales2017 I
The 2017 World Championships was a truly global event!
The glorious Glanusk Estate.
The practice range was packed with shooters from all over the world.
Little Jack just needed this final target to claim an unprecedented back-to-back victory.
John Farbrother considers his options in the shoot-out.
Jack, a delighted Air Arms Director, Claire West, and an understandably exhausted Doz Falconer.
Jack came back - and won it again!
Doz presents top Junior, Dylan Varney, with his well-earned trophy.