ALL ON A PLATE
Gary Chillingworth takes on a tough new course with ‘interesting’ results
Gary Chillingworth with all the winners of Round I of the Nationals, from Misfits
H appy days! It’s that time of year when Pete Sparkes, the head honcho of UKAHFT, is removed from cold storage and the UKAHFT Nationals series begins a year- long march toward ‘The Gathering’ and the crowning of a new National Champion. The Nationals is not just about competition at the highest level, it’s also about promoting the sport of airgunning and bringing new shooters into the world of competitive HFT.
For 2018, we appear to have a record number of new shooters joining the series, and they range in ability from total newbies to experienced hunters who just want to hone their skills, and spend a pleasant Sunday shooting tin chickens and drinking tea.
Our competitors for 2018 range from youngsters, nine and upwards, to a few octogenarians who are competing in the Veterans class. In fact, we have seven main individual classes; Juniors 9-13 and 14-16, Ladies, .22 and Recoiling, Veterans and the Open class for PCPs.
NOT TOO SERIOUS
At each round there are two sessions; the first is where most of the big guns hang out and is still friendly, but slightly more serious. The afternoon session is much more relaxed and for the new shooter, this is where I would recommend you start.
Round one of nine was at a new club for the UKAHFT. Misfits is at a new venue located just a few miles from Leicester. Set partially in woodland and on the side of a ferocious hill, I have a sneaking suspicion that this ground is going to become a firm favourite in the world of competitive HFT. Misfits is the home of Greg Hensman and his team of course- setting reprobates. Greg is not a newbie to the running of HFT events and has been the guiding light behind the Daystate Midland Hunter series for many years. He and his team have also been one of the course- setting teams behind the HFT World Championships for the last four to five years, so with this pedigree, there is no doubt that this event was going to be challenging.
WAITING YOUR TURN
I shoot in the Recoiling class, so I was placed into the second
session and as I sat there waiting to shoot and eating a very nice bacon sandwich, I watched the session one bods start to walk off the course after they had shot. There were a few smiling faces, but the vast majority looked bewildered, and on further questioning, they all admitted that the course had beaten them – the comments contained much bad language, but the gist was, it was a brilliant course that had everyone dazed and confused.
When it was my time to shoot, I walked out looking forward to the start of the season, and started to shoot well, but I was missing shot after shot. I was looking at a target and in my mind I knew the range, but my pellets were hitting high and low. I knew there was nothing wrong with my rifle, I was just mis-ranging everything and that was down to clever use of the tunnel effect – place a target in a tunnel of trees and it looks further away then it really is – and a mixture of odd-sized faceplates.
Then we arrived on the field section and things went from bad to ‘I want my mummy’. Not only was it almost impossible to rangefind, but the wind was rolling down the hill from the top to the bottom, grabbing the pellets and tossing them toward the horizon. I think by this point you might have worked out that I didn’t do very well.
The Misfits ground is great; it’s picturesque, tough to shoot and the people and bacon rolls were great. For round one of the Nationals, it set a standard that will be very hard to beat.
There was one chap who did very well and that was the aforementioned Greg Hensman, who only missed a single target and took the Open class with his Daystate Tsar; in the Ladies, Sarah Pantling was victorious; in .22, Jason Lockett was again the winner, and the Recoiling went to Steve Whiting. I pointed out to him that his scope was broken before the event, and he then used his back- up gun and beat me. Yes, I’m an idiot.
The Veterans was taken by Geoff Ryder, and the Juniors 9-13 winner was Myla Parsons-Smith; 14-16 was taken by Megan Reed. The club event went to Misfits and the Solware manufacturer’s trophy was taken by Walther.
The round was sponsored by Daystate and they presented a stunning Huntsman Regal rifle. The Regal is brilliant for both HFT and hunting, with both multi- and single- shot capacity, a new larger air cylinder and titanium valving. The Regal is both reliable and consistent and a pleasure to shoot, and the lucky winner was Ethan Pantling.
Well done, Misfits, and roll on round two!
The chronograph (supplied by BAR) is an important part of the weekend
FAR LEFT: Graeme Cargan with an Alutec TX200 (Yes, a TX200 in a metal stock)
LEFT: Ethan Pantling receives his raffle prize from Joff Haigh of Daystate
LEFT: Abi Maw on her way to a stunning 2nd place with her HFT-500
LEFT: Greg Hensman was the overall winner with his Daystate Tsar