Sporting Shooter - - Contents - WITH DON BRUNT

The team at Atkin Grant & Lang in St Al­bans made sure the ground was exquisitely well pre­pared for the English Open, while from an or­gan­i­sa­tional point of view it ran as smooth as silk. Safety rope, hard­stand­ing un­der the cages, uni­formly tidy cages and a ho­moge­nous cor­po­rate look gave the im­pres­sion that you were at an event that was some­thing spe­cial.

The course it­self was very tough. It started softly, but soon be­came a test of skill that re­quired to­tal con­cen­tra­tion, a sub­stan­tial amount of tal­ent and a large por­tion of luck. Of course, a ma­jor event should be test­ing, but ar­guably the 15 stands at AGL were a bridge too far. The CPSA had in­spected the course and told the AGL team to stiffen it up, and with hind­sight that might be a de­ci­sion that they would re­con­sider given a sec­ond chance. How­ever it was, as they say, the same for ev­ery­one, and pretty much ev­ery­one strug­gled on the same stands with only six, eight and three peo­ple man­ag­ing to straight stands 5, 8 and 11 re­spec­tively.

Stand 5 was de­cep­tive with a right-to-left crosser that had proved al­most im­pos­si­ble to read, al­though it didn’t look that hard. Stand 8 saw an on-re­port looper that was a long way out and un­der lit­tle power, at least un­til grav­ity took over. This proved to be ex­cep­tion­ally dif­fi­cult, though at least it had a friendly first bird in the pair. A few stands later on Stand 11 both tar­gets were pretty ex­treme. A left-to-right that skirted the tree­line be­fore curl­ing away and down at a long range was fol­lowed by a battue go­ing in the other di­rec­tion, at a sim­i­lar dis­tance but with twice the speed.

Af­ter five days of com­pe­ti­tion, the top shoot­ers came back for the Su­per Fi­nal which would see the cham­pion crowned. With seven shoot­ers vy­ing for six spa­ces in the fi­nal, there would have to be a shoot-off among the five shoot­ers who had qual­i­fied on 107 ex 120.

Nick Hen­drick, David Good­ing, Mar­tin My­ers, John Lee and Paul Simp­son took to the field, but it was Hen­drick who even­tu­ally lost out and the four went for­ward. They were joined by Richard Bun­ning who had qual­i­fied on Thurs­day with 110 and James Attwood who had man­aged a su­per­hu­man 114 dur­ing the clos­ing min­utes of the Satur­day qual­i­fy­ing.

Rain was fall­ing as the 30-tar­get fi­nal be­gan and with Bun­ning and Attwood car­ry­ing over their lead into the fi­nal, they pulled clear of the rest. Bun­ning took two tar­gets from Attwood’s lead on Stand 1, and on the next 10 tar­gets he man­aged to take an­other three which saw him lead by one clay go­ing into the last stand.

The last 10 tar­gets were very shootable and both men erred just once, so the gap re­mained as it was and Bun­ning took a his­toric first win. Attwood couldn’t hide his dis­ap­point­ment as he fin­ished one be­hind on 131, but with age on his side and tal­ent to spare it seems al­most a cer­tainty that he will be back in the near fu­ture. Mar­tin My­ers fin­ished the podium on 127 while Simp­son took AAA 1st place and 4th over­all.

Ladies went to Ch­eryl Hall ahead of Emma Stacey by one tar­get, while the Som­er­set youngster also took Lady Ju­nior and won Par­ent and Child with her father Shaun. Henry Collins tri­umphed in Ju­niors as Josh Bridges couldn’t get back for a shoot-off, and Carl Blox­ham’s 106 was enough for the Vets win.

James Attwood’s per­for­mance was world class

Bun­ning was de­lighted to take the win

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