Gary Chilling­worth vis­its Hol­land for a su­perb in­ter­na­tional comp’

Air Gunner - - Contents -

Gary Chilling­worth re­ports on the first-ever Air Arms In­ter­na­tional event in Hol­land

A s tar­get shoot­ers we are lucky to have a huge amount of com­pe­ti­tions to shoot in the UK. We can travel from Corn­wall to Scot­land, stop via Cardiff on the way, and we will never be that far away from a HFT club shoot­ing at the week­end. Over the last few years, though, there has been a grow­ing in­ter­est in shoot­ing abroad, and in 2018 it was an­nounced that Air Arms, the UKAHFT and FT Schalkhaar in Hol­land were go­ing to hold the first Air Arms In­ter­na­tional shoot­ing event. I’m here to tell you how the event went, and what we had to do to take our ri­fles abroad and make sure we did not fall foul of the law, both in the UK and Europe.

Firstly, you need to be aware that the laws in Europe do vary from coun­try to coun­try. To give you an ex­am­ple; in France and Hol­land, sound mod­er­a­tors are le­gal, but in Bel­gium they are not; 12 ft.lbs. ri­fles are le­gal in France, Bel­gium, Hol­land, Poland and the Czech Repub­lic, but in Ger­many, a sub 12 ft.lbs. will earn you a visit to the cooler, a pos­si­ble heavy fine and prison sen­tence. Ba­si­cally, what I am say­ing is, check the laws of where you want to travel and any coun­try you have to travel through, be­cause an hon­est mis­take could prove costly.


If you choose to fly, there are only cer­tain air­lines that will take ri­fles. BA and Easyjet are cer­tainly two that will, and all you need to do is in­form them that you are car­ry­ing a sub 12 ft.lbs. air ri­fle when you make your book­ing, and fill in the re­quired pa­per­work. You might be ask to sup­ply ev­i­dence that your ri­fle is sub 12 ft.lbs., and this can be ob­tained from a reg­is­tered firearms dealer who will chrono­graph your ri­fle and give you a let­ter show­ing the ri­fle’s se­rial num­ber and power. Also, if you are go­ing to a shoot­ing event, it’s good to have a let­ter of in­vi­ta­tion from the or­gan­is­ers – and a trans­la­tion, so that if you are stopped by a gen­darme, you can ex­plain why you have a boot full of guns and where you are go­ing.

The chrono’ let­ter and in­vi­ta­tion is also re­quired if you are trav­el­ling by ferry, or to be more ac­cu­rate, it’s best prac­tice to have it. I spoke to P& O, Stena, DFS and Euro­tun­nel, and they were all very sim­i­lar. They all want you to de­clare the ri­fle af­ter you have booked, and when you check in.

With Euro­tun­nel, we had a blue sticker placed on our car hanger and were in­vited into cus­toms. The chaps there were re­ally help­ful and looked at our pa­per­work and passed us through.

Our friends, Gor­don Smith and Jo Cog­ger, trav­elled overnight with Stena and they were told to keep the guns in the car, but had their pel­lets placed in the ship’s safe.

P& O send out a form that has to be filled in and re­turned a week be­fore travel. Now, this form asks for an EFP ( Euro­pean Firearms Pass) that is is­sued to all peo­ple trav­el­ling with firearms and shot­guns. This does not ap­ply to us, and we do not need one. We did have an is­sue with some staff at P& O who thought that one was re­quired, but when you ring them, ask to speak to a mem­ber of the firearms team and they will guide you. They will log your car reg­is­tra­tion and this should help you to move through cus­toms seam­lessly.


When you get to France, don’t for­get to keep a Hi-Viz in the car – not in the boot! The lo­cal plod like to pull over UK cars, and when you get out with­out your Hi-Viz that’s an au­to­matic 90 euro fine, you have been warned.

As I men­tioned, we were on our way to Hol­land to shoot in the Air Arms In­ter­na­tional. This event was be­ing held at one of the top FT clubs in Europe, and un­der the watch­ful eye of Eric Van Esch it was cer­tain

to be an epic event. The main shoot was to be held on the Satur­day, but we were head­ing down on the Fri­day so we would be fresh and fight­ing fit. How­ever, there was the mat­ter of the Dutch hospi­tal­ity and the night shoot. Af­ter we had checked into our stun­ning ho­tel, we headed off to Ft Schalkaar to meet up with 34 other Brits who had made the jour­ney and a plethora of Dutch, Bel­gian and Czechs. As we ar­rived, the heav­enly scent of bar­be­cu­ing meat wafted to­wards the car park and the sound of laugh­ter was in the air.


I am proud to say that I can count quite a few of the Euro­pean con­tin­gent as friends. They of­ten travel over for the HFT World Cham­pi­onships in the UK ,and it’s al­ways great to meet up with them. I asked a few of them about the night shoot be­cause it was start­ing to get dark and with a chuckle, I was told that it would cer­tainly be a shoot that I would never for­get and would thor­oughly en­joy.

As the sun dipped be­low the hori­zon, the ri­fles were re­moved from their slips, and lamps were at­tached. Some of us had ded­i­cated torches, oth­ers – like Liam Todd – just bungee- corded the world’s largest torch to the side of his gun. The for­mat was: Twenty of the tar­gets had to be lamped, but the other 10 were il­lu­mi­nated with their own light source. One tar­get ‘when shot’ re­leased a ghost that went fly­ing into the air, another played the theme from Benny Hill, and another fired a flash gun in your face and blinded you for the next tar­get. All the night tar­gets were so much fun, and the whole event was per­fect for getting us into the mood for the fol­low­ing day. Who­ever, came up with these tar­gets is a ge­nius, a twisted ge­nius, but a ge­nius nonethe­less.

The Air Arms In­ter­na­tional was a stan­dard 30- shot HFT course, set to 2018 UKAHFT rules, and the boys and girls from Ft Schalkaar had put on a bel­ter. When you looked at the course, it was there to be shot, no gim­micks, no traps, just a good old-fash­ioned HFT course that was a mix­ture of hard, medium and eas­ier tar­gets. As we moved from the woods to the field sec­tion, the wind would grab hold of the pel­lets and throw them around like they

were in a wash­ing ma­chine, and the heat haze that was com­ing from the ground made it hard to range the tar­gets, but there was a won­der­ful sense of joy and friend­ship, and the shoot­ers were more in­ter­ested in hav­ing fun then knock­ing over tin chick­ens.


Deep down, we all knew how im­por­tant this shoot was, and the rea­son for this was the Brexit tro­phy. We had nor­mal sil­ver­ware for all the win­ners, sup­plied by Air Arms, but we also had the Brexit Tro­phy; the top five scores from the UK ver­sus the top five from Europe. To the win­ner, con­trol of Europe; to the loser, shame abun­dant. So, with the fate of the con­ti­nent on our shoul­ders, we knew that we had to per­form, and I’m glad to say that Team UK took the tro­phy and Europe is ours. I just need to let Junker know in Brus­sels.

This event was not re­ally about the score, but in the night shoot, Tom van Dokkum was 1st, Kieran Turner 2nd and Chris Cundy was 3rd in the Open. In the Re­coil­ing, Michiel Bodewes was 1st, Rens Gaaren­stroom was 2nd and Danny Roff was third. For the Ju­niors, Mar­tijn Ziele­man was top score. In the Air Arms In­ter­na­tional, the win­ner was once again Tom van Dukkum, closely fol­lowed by Si­man Vant and Chris Cundey. In the Re­coil­ing, Mr Bodewes took top hon­ours, fol­lowed by Keith War­bur­ton and Richard Mer­lijn. The Ladies was a UK af­fair, with Michelle Par­sons in top place and Becky Rawl­ins in 2nd . The Veter­ans was taken by Frank Meynck­ens, and fol­lowed up by Dale Al­croft, and fi­nally, the Ju­niors went to Myla Par­sons, and in 2nd was Mar­tijn Ziel­man.

The event was gen­er­ously spon­sored by Air Arms and they gave us a stun­ning voucher for an HFT500 which was won by Wal­ter Tanzini.

This event was bet­ter than I could have ever imag­ined. Our Dutch hosts were ac­com­mo­dat­ing and wel­com­ing, and shoot­ing in Europe is both fun and friendly. Getting there is sim­ply a car drive away, so if you fancy it and want to come and have a try, then check out the Air Arms In­ter­na­tional web­site for de­tails about 2019 – or just drop a line to Eric, at FT Schalkhaar, be­cause they have shoots through­out the year and I am sure you will al­ways be wel­come.

ABOVE: Marta Ruz­ick­ova is a Czech shooter and is one of Europe’s top ladies

RIGHT: Roy is wel­come back, but his shirt must be left in the UK

RIGHT: Wal­ter Tanzini re­ceives his HFT-500 voucher from Charles, thanks to Air Arms

RIGHT: Charles re­ceives the Brexit tro­phy from Eric. Europe now be­longs to us

BE­LOW: All the Air Arms In­ter­na­tional com­peti­tors had a great time

TOP RIGHT: The Dutch equiv­a­lent to a Travel Lodge

TOP LEFT: The Dutch hospi­tal­ity is sec­ond to none and the bar­be­cue was stun­ning

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