Com­mu­nity Spirit

HFT enthusiast, Daniel Gor­don, gives us his experience of the true mean­ing of com­mu­nity

Airgun World - - Contents -

Daniel Gor­don shares his en­joy­ment of HFT - why not join in the ca­ma­raderie?

The start of the 2017/2018 Daystate Mid­land Hunter Se­ries (DMHS) came only a few months af­ter I re­ally be­came im­mersed in the world of HFT. This meant new clubs I hadn’t vis­ited be­fore, new peo­ple to go round each course with, and hav­ing my scores com­pared to the best shots in the Mid­lands – in­clud­ing some of the best shots in the world! I’ll be hon­est, I was get­ting anx­ious about how com­pet­i­tive each com­pe­ti­tion might be, and the at­ti­tude of the other shoot­ers. Would I even en­joy tak­ing part? It was with crossed fin­gers that I com­mit­ted to a full se­ries of the un­known.

DEPTH AND PASSION

So how does the DMHS work? In to­tal there are six shoots, at six dif­fer­ent clubs around the Mid­lands. Each club lays out a 30-tar­get course to cur­rent UKAHFT rules, and your best four scores count to­wards the fi­nal re­sult. It’s as sim­ple as that, but as I dis­cov­ered, it’s ac­tu­ally so much more. It’s also an op­por­tu­nity to meet new peo­ple and make new friends, get ad­vice and im­prove your shoot­ing – and most of all, spend time out­side en­joy­ing your hobby and hav­ing fun. I ex­pe­ri­enced all of these things, and it was over the the course of this se­ries that I re­ally dis­cov­ered the depth and passion of the HFT com­mu­nity.

It’s a won­der­ful thing, turn­ing up to a shoot and see­ing a group of peo­ple who share your passion for the sport, the ban­ter and friendly ri­val­ries, where strangers hand you their pride and joy so you can try it out.

GREAT MEM­O­RIES

I re­mem­ber the first time I vis­ited ‘Zone HFT’ for a prac­tice shoot be­fore the DMHS round that was due to be held there. I had in­tro­duced my­self on so­cial me­dia the pre­vi­ous week, ter­ri­fied that I would spend the day as an out­sider. When I ar­rived, one of the or­gan­is­ers recog­nised my name, im­me­di­ately started in­tro­duc­ing me to peo­ple and of­fered to be my shoot­ing part­ner for the day. Within a few min­utes of ar­riv­ing my anx­i­ety had melted away, to be re­placed by an­tic­i­pa­tion of what the day would bring.

Then there was the first time I plucked up the courage to ask for ad­vice. We were shoot­ing into a tricky, switch­ing wind, the kind where the tar­get re­set string is be­ing blown left and right at the same time. I re­ally didn’t know how to tackle it, but in no time at all I was be­ing given ad­vice left right and cen­tre, and I mean that lit­er­ally. My shoot­ing part­ner, the group in front, and the group be­hind were all ea­ger to help. Later on that day, I found out that one of my ad­vi­sors was an ex-World Cham­pion. No elitism here, just genuine down-to-earth peo­ple.

COM­MU­NITY SPIRIT

This sense of com­mu­nity was epit­o­mised at the fi­nal round of the se­ries. This is the last chance to im­prove your over­all rank­ing, and of­ten the class win­ners will be de­cided here, as well as

“my anx­i­ety had melted away, to be re­placed by an­tic­i­pa­tion of what the day would bring”

the win­ners of the many ri­val­ries that in­evitably build up over the months. The cul­mi­na­tion of the se­ries is at the end of the day, with all the vic­tors be­ing de­clared and the much an­tic­i­pated end-of-se­ries raf­fle.

Af­ter de­lays due to the weather, and re­lo­ca­tion to an­other club, it felt like a long time com­ing when we fi­nally made it to Lincs HFT on a breezy April Sun­day. But none of the an­tic­i­pa­tion or ex­cite­ment had been lost. The day started as nor­mal, with a quick check of our set-ups on the zero range, and catch­ing up with peo­ple we hadn’t spo­ken to since the Worlds shoot a few weeks pre­vi­ously. All smiles, punc­tu­ated by some slightly ner­vous, last round ten­sion. Ti­tles were on the line! Busi­ness as usual then, but we were brought back down to earth for a few min­utes at the end of the safety brief­ing. There was a quick an­nounce­ment to say there would be a col­lec­tion for the Houghton fam­ily through­out the day.

Jon Houghton and his son, Jack, are well known and liked names in the HFT scene, and pre­vi­ous win­ners of ‘The Spirit of HFT’ award. An award given as part of the UKAHFT se­ries to recog­nise the un­sung he­roes of our sport.

Jon’s 10-year-old daugh­ter, Amy, has been di­ag­nosed with Ewing’s sar­coma (a bone and soft tis­sue can­cer) and is un­der­go­ing in­tense chemo­ther­apy, with an op­er­a­tion to re­place her hip and fe­mur ap­proach­ing. They are try­ing to raise money to cover the cost of a wheel­chair and new bed, and the oc­ca­sional

“Rarely have I had the plea­sure of be­ing as­so­ci­ated with such an un­selfish sport, and I am proud to be part of it”

nice day out in the weeks when Amy is not on chemo­ther­apy.

Through­out the day shoot­ers and their fam­i­lies from all walks of life, many who had never even met the Houghtons, were mak­ing do­na­tions. A group of peo­ple com­ing to­gether to help a wor­thy cause.

GEN­EROS­ITY

It didn’t end there. The top raf­fle prize this year was a brand new Daystate Wolver­ine ‘C’ Type, which could be won by any­one who had at­tended at least four of the six rounds. On hand to draw the lucky ticket was reg­u­lar HFT com­peti­tor and Daystate rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Joff Haigh. The crowd hushed as the lucky num­ber was drawn, and the win­ner was ... Joff Haigh! He asked for an­other num­ber to be drawn, but the crowd was adamant he should keep the top prize, be­ing equally de­serv­ing as the rest of us. In an un­ex­pected and in­cred­i­ble ges­ture, Joff agreed to take the prize, but only on the con­di­tion that it be sold and all the pro­ceeds be do­nated to Amy.

As if that were not enough, the ges­ture was re­peated by both Kieran Turner and Ethan Pantling, do­nat­ing their raf­fle prizes of an MTC HD rangefinder and Op­ti­san EVX 10 x 44i scope re­spec­tively. This show of gen­eros­ity was enough to bring a tear to the eye, but this isn’t a rare oc­cur­rence. In fact, this same scene can be found across the coun­try. Spe­cial shoots and cour­ses, run by vol­un­teers, raise thou­sands of pounds ev­ery year for var­i­ous char­i­ties. Rarely have I had the plea­sure of be­ing as­so­ci­ated with such an un­selfish sport, and I am proud to be a part of it.

DIF­FER­ENT STORY

Shoot­ing sports can get a lot of bad press in the me­dia. If only they could see what we see week in and week out, I’m con­fi­dent it would be a dif­fer­ent story.

I would like to end with a few words from Jon Houghton that say more than I ever could:

‘I would like to thank ev­ery­one for ev­ery­thing they have done for my fam­ily, es­pe­cially Amy. We can’t be­lieve the gen­eros­ity of ev­ery­one. Amy is do­ing her best to fight this hor­ri­ble dis­ease, but it’s tak­ing its toll on her now. She has a very big op­er­a­tion com­ing up to re­move her fe­mur and hip and have it re­placed with ti­ta­nium, but she has an­other five rounds of chemo first, then five more af­ter the op­er­a­tion. Thank you ev­ery­one from the bot­tom of our hearts, from the Houghtons.’ I

Yours truly, get­ting to try a new An­schutz 9015.

HFT and FT shoot­ers shar­ing the range at the Paul James Bri­tish Re­coil­ing Cham­pi­onship. A fan­tas­tic an­nual char­ity shoot. Some­times the friendly ri­val­ries will come down to a shoot-off. I’m try­ing to hide my ner­vous­ness here at the PJBRC.

The win­ter weather pro­vided some unique chal­lenges. Strip­ping the TX200 af­ter each shoot meant a lot of re-ze­ro­ing, but we were all in the same boat.

Some­times we had to just grin and bear it, but a cer­tain ca­ma­raderie can be found when spend­ing a morn­ing in a snowy field to­gether.

Chris Pantling with his hard-earned tro­phies. A top shooter who has of­fered me much free ad­vice over the last year. DMHS or­gan­iser Greg Hens­man (left) pre­sent­ing Joff Haigh with first prize in the raf­fle, which was im­me­di­ately do­nated to char­ity. What a fan­tas­tic ges­ture to close out the se­ries.

Jon and Amy Houghton. Al­though not fa­mil­iar faces to ev­ery­one, that hasn’t stopped the gen­er­ous do­na­tions.

All of the class win­ners for this year. Top com­peti­tors, but also friends and men­tors to ev­ery­one on the cir­cuit.

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