Gary Chilling­worth heads to Europe to re­port on this re­cent in­ter­na­tional HFT event

Air Gunner - - Contents -

Gary Chilling­worth re­ports on the news and win­ners from the in­ter­na­tional BeNeLux Open in Grupon, Bel­gium

Year on year, the world of Hunter Field Tar­get ( HFT) has be­come big­ger and big­ger. It can now cer­tainly be classed as a truly in­ter­na­tional sport and is quickly de­vel­op­ing its own set of in­ter­na­tional rules. HFT has spread to coun­tries like the US, South Africa and even Iran, but it’s main­land Europe that is be­com­ing a hot­bed of all things HFT and this is what I want to speak about to­day.

For us in the UK, the HFT clubs and events in main­land Europe are the most in­trigu­ing and ac­ces­si­ble, and luck­ily for me, in 2018 I was able to visit two su­perb in­ter­na­tional events – the Air Arms In­ter­na­tional at Ft Schalkhaar in Hol­land, and the BeNeLux open, held at La Ferme du

Chateau, in Grupont, Bel­gium.

Now, be­fore I get into de­tail about this event, I just want to give you a quick guide to get­ting to these events by road. I chose to use Euro­Tun­nel, booked my train and emailed them im­me­di­ately to in­form them that I was car­ry­ing a sub-12 ft.lbs. firearm. I was told that I needed to ar­rive an hour early to check in at a manned booth and de­clare that I was car­ry­ing a ri­fle. When I did this, they give me a blue sticker to place on the hanger that you at­tach to the rear view mir­ror and was sent to a se­cu­rity check­point.

It’s good prac­tice to have a let­ter of in­vi­ta­tion from the com­pe­ti­tion that you are at­tend­ing, and also to take your ri­fle to a RFD, have it chrono­graphed and get a let­ter stat­ing that it is sub-12 ft.lbs. It is my un­der­stand­ing that these two items are not 100% nec­es­sary, but they are rec­om­mended be­cause with­out them you could be de­layed or pos­si­bly re­fused travel. Af­ter chat­ting to the se­cu­rity team, I was wished good luck and sent on my way – in to­tal it took about ten min­utes.

The fer­ries across have a sim­i­lar set of cri­te­ria; you might need to fill out a form be­fore travel, and pos­si­bly sur­ren­der your am­mu­ni­tion to the ship’s se­cu­rity for travel, but the ferry com­pany will ad­vise you on their

rules. Ba­si­cally, trav­el­ling to Europe with a sub-12 ft.lbs. ri­fle is easy, and be­cause you do not re­quire an EFC (Eu­ro­pean Firearms Cer­tifi­cate) to do so, the checks are min­i­mal and not mas­sively time con­sum­ing.


The drive from Calais to Grupont was nice and easy – it was mostly mo­tor­ways, and fuel and cof­fee was avail­able along the way. In Bel­gium, just re­mem­ber that if your ri­fle has a si­lencer, it must be non-re­mov­able, so use some Lock­tite to se­cure it, and al­ways keep a HiViz in the cabin of the car, oth­er­wise you could get a big fine.

It took me about three and half hours to make the drive, and on ar­rival at the shoot I pulled into the car park of the won­der­ful chateau to see a drone fly­ing around, film­ing the event, and peo­ple stand­ing around drink­ing cof­fee, just like a UK shoot. The grounds are stun­ning and within min­utes I was able to catch up with friends who I have met over the years.

The BeNeLux Open was split into two com­pe­ti­tions; there was one for the FT com­peti­tors and one for the HFT shoot­ers. Some­times, when you travel to dif­fer­ent coun­tries there can be dif­fer­ent rules, but luck­ily though, most of the top Eu­ro­pean events are now adopt­ing the new in­ter­na­tional rules and if you are used to shoot­ing UKAHFT spec’ cour­ses, these will seem very fa­mil­iar.


The event it­self was held over two days and af­ter the com­pul­sory safety brief, we headed out on to the course, and I have to say, I was very im­pressed. The course was 40 shots – 20 in the wood­lands and 20 in the open field. We started in the woods and I have to ad­mit, I had a small amount of trep­i­da­tion. I had heard ru­mours of other Eu­ro­pean events where tar­gets weren’t painted, or were of poor qual­ity and badly placed, tar­gets that would not fall over, even if they were shot in the kill zone, but would fell over when shot high up the plate. How­ever, I am glad to say that all the tar­gets were painted and of high qual­ity – a mix­ture of Flopover and Knock­over, I think. The mar­shals were well briefed and well equipped and the tar­get place­ment was top notch. In fact, af­ter day one, I had been smashed to pieces by a truly ex­cel­lent course.

The wood­land was stun­ning and lis­ten­ing to a wild boar hunt go­ing on in the neigh­bour­ing wood­land was a real treat. When we got into the field sec­tion, it was clear to see that Pa­trick van Herten and his BeNeLux team had spent a huge amount of time plan­ning the course, and with tar­gets hid­den in­side cab­ins and jut­ting out from trees, this open field was a real chal­lenge to shoot.


Af­ter day one, I was two points off the top springer score, and head­ing in to day two, I was paired with the leader from day one’s Rens Gaaren­stroom. Rens is a lovely chap, a real joy to shoot with and we had

a good nat­ter all the way round. Af­ter half the course, I had man­aged to pull level, and for the next ten tar­gets it went back and forth, but luck­ily for me, with five tar­gets to go, I grabbed a one point lead and man­aged to hold on for the win.

Other win­ners were: Tom Van Dokkum beat­ing Richard Woods in the Open HFT, Adam Benke win­ning the Open FT, me win­ning the Springer HFT, Thorston Ro who was top FT springer, and Jera Rui­jters who was the Junior cham­pion.


The BeNeLux team and the Dutch Field Tar­get As­sosi­a­tion ( DFTA) are keen to pro­mote in­ter­na­tional shoot­ing, and in 2019 there are go­ing to be two more bril­liant chances to take part in in­ter­na­tional events over there; these are the Eu­ro­pean Cham­pi­onships at Grupont in Bel­gium, and the Air Arms In­ter­na­tional at FT Schalkhaar, in Hol­land – and for those read­ers in Europe, we have the World Cham­pi­onships in Septem­ber at the Mid­land Game Fair, and of course, the Na­tion­als where you will be more then wel­come.

We also have a fun ‘Three Na­tions Chal­lenge’ which is for the top score from the Euro’s, Air Arms and the BeNeLux chal­lenge, held at Mal­don in Jan­uary. Luck­ily, we had plenty of Dutch and Bel­gian shoot­ers come over for the fun and fri­vol­ity and I am pleased to say that Ingrid Van Ge­mert even walked away with some sil­ver­ware as the top lady shooter of the day.

Ba­si­cally, what I am try­ing to say is this – come and give the BeNeLux, Euro­peans, or the Air Arms In­ter­na­tional a try. The peo­ple are warm and wel­com­ing, the cour­ses are tough and en­joy­able and if you can get to Dover, it’s only a three­hour driver – and you can even pick up some wine on the way home.

I have shot many com­pe­ti­tions over the years, but the Air Arms In­ter­na­tional and the BeNeLux will live with me for a long time, and I am proud to say that I have made some great Eu­ro­pean friends. It has proved a point that I have be­lieved for years; shoot­ing peo­ple are good peo­ple, no mat­ter which coun­try they come from.

“the Air Arms In­ter­na­tional and the BeNeLux will live with me for a long time”

La Ferme du Chateau – a lovely place to shoot

RIGHT: The Field of Ter­ror, it took no pris­on­ers

ABOVE: The BeNeLux Open and Eu­ro­pean Cham­pi­onships will be­come pop­u­lar events for Brits.

Miriam Stark has been a pop­u­lar Dutch fig­ure shoot­ing in the UK

Rens Gaaren­stroom is one of the top Eu­ro­pean springer shoot­ers

Ingrid Van Ge­mert was the Ladies win­ner of the Mal­don round of the BeNeLux chal­lenge

Me and Rens, we both had a great time

Manuel Derose shows that springers abroad are as pop­u­lar as they are in the UK

Jay Mode won a free en­try to the Euro­peans – lets hope he can make it.

The BeNeLux Open was for both FT and HFT

Richard wasn’t happy los­ing to Tom

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