Over 950 shooters from 33 nations converged on the Castillo de Robledo shooting ground, 90 minutes north-east of Madrid for the 35th FITASC World Sporting Championship. Eight challenging parcours were set up across a beautiful hunting estate, designed by Veniro Spada and laid out to take advantage of the landscape and scenery with a wide variety of target presentations and styles. Layouts ranged from the Perazzi parcour set around some disused farm buildings, and the Kreighoff and CCI layouts using the local cliffs and valleys to throw targets that showed off the topography.
The four day event was held in hot and challenging conditions, and competitors were taking advantage of shade to keep cool and using a well organised bus system to reach remote layouts.
Day one started well for British shooters – George Digweed shot the Perazzi and Kreighoff layouts without dropping a shot, leaving home one target clear of Joao Carlo Quinto of Portugal and Bastien Havart of France who were on 49ex50. Eight shooters were tied one shot further back including GB shooters Ed Solomons, Stewart Cumming, Jonathan Kendall and Martin Reynolds.
Day two saw temperatures at their highest point, well over 40 degrees centigrade, but the top shooters kept their cool, with George Digweed holding form to shoot 48ex50 and Joao Carols Quintas of Portugal holding on to be tied for the lead at the halfway stage of the competition on 98ex100. Three French shooters were tied on 97ex100, with Stuart Cumming in joing 9th with Will Fennell of the USA on 95. Jack Lovick, Ben Husthwaite and Mark Winser of GB were sitting on 93ex100.
Day three saw the leaderboard really tighten up – with George sitting on 147ex150 – with French shooter Bastien Havart tight on his heels on 146, and Charles Bardou, also of France, and Brad Kidd Jr from the USA on 145. There were 15 scores over 140 – so it was clear that this event was going to be settled on the last afternoon.
George and the French pair of Bastien Havart and Charles Bardou were out early on Sunday morning – with George straighting his first layout of the final day (Browning) to put the pressure on the remaining shooters, however on his final layout of the tournament he shot a 22ex25 on the tricky Beretta parcours to leave a small window open for someone to take advantage.
The French shooters scores came in – with Bardou finishing on 191ex200 and Havart on 192ex200 – still two shots behind Digweed. It was down to Brad Kidd jr, shooting in the afternoon to shoot 50ex50 to win the event, or 49 to force a shoot-off.
After a tense wait in the courtyard of the shooting ground news arrived that the American shooter had hit 48ex50 – taking the silver medal, and leaving George Digweed with his 21st World Title!
With Kidd in second, and Bastien Havart in third just two shots separated the medal places – other notable performances included Britain’s Stewart Cumming, Mark Winser and Ben Husthwaite on 189ex200 alongside the 2012 Champion Gebben Miles. Mark Marshall finished one shot further back on 188 with Jack Lovick on 187 – taking joint 12th place.
The Ladies category was won by USA shooter Ashleigh Hafley on 183ex200 in a tense shoot-off against Beatriz Laparra-Cuenca of Spain – Becky McKenzie of Great Britain took the Bronze medal with 180ex200, a few shots ahead of Cheryl Hall on 177.
Jack Lovick of Great Britian took an excellent gold medal in the close run Junior Category with 187ex200, followed by David Radulovich from the USA in the silver position. The Bronze medal was decided in another nail-biting shoot-off with Ross Neskora of the US edging Gonzalo Garcia Barrio on Spain. British shooter Rob Russell finished 5th with a 183.
Another very tense shoot off took place for the veterans category – with three shooters tied on 184 after the main event, Brian Duquesnay of the USA finally emerged victorious, edging Marcelo Clavero Elzam into second place and British shooter Steve Brightwell taking the Bronze medal.
The Super Veteran category was won by the 1996 World Champion John Bidwell (coincidentally held at the same ground in Spain), he took the title on 176ex200 with Bob Davis of the USA a shot further back on 175 and Curtis Anderson taking the Bronze medal on 173. John has now held the Senior, Veteran and Super-Veteran title in the World Championship event.
The team events were a close run affair – with Great British interests well represented. The senior event was won by the United States of America, with France taking the Silver medal and Spain taking Bronze – the GB team of Stewart Cumming, Paul Lovick, Kevin Mayor and Ed Solomons took fourth place – just 9 targets behind the local team.
The Ladies category was won by the USA, 7 shots clear of Spain in Silver, and Australia in the Bronze position – the British teal of Pet Easton, Nicky Gryspeerdy and Linda Grayson finished in sixth place.
The junior team of Jack Lovick, Rob Russell and Jake Moore took an excellent Silver medal – just 5 targets behind the USA team with France making up the podium with the Bronze medal.
In the Veterans category, Great Britain took an excellent Gold Medal – with Steve Brightwell, John Pool and Steve Grant winning by 6 clear shots from the USA team in silver, and the Spanish team in Bronze position.
Probably the closest category of all was the Super Veterans – with USA winning the Gold medal by a single shot from the British Team of John Bidwell, David Asher and Frank Haigh – the Bronze medal went to France who were 53 shots behind silver – showing how close the competition for the top step was!
So after the medal ceremony shooters were left reflecting on four exciting days of shooting. General opinions were that targets had a great variety, with some stiff tests as well as some that would help every shooter build a respectable score. The biggest challenge of all was the heat, with shooters working hard to find shade and stay hydrated.
I spoke to many competitors who echoed the comments of 21 times World Champion George Digweed who said that “we had seen an excellently staged event at a beautiful ground with fantastic facilities”. Everyone that I spoke in the late evening Spanish sun commented on the quality of the targets and the great organisation of the event, as well as stunning shooting from all the medal winners and national team members.
Once again the world family of Clay Shooting had come together to compete in an event that highlights the best that our sport has to offer. As a first time attendee of a World Championship, the friendship and camaraderie of shooters from around the world was fantastic. Next year will see the World Championship move to Vale de Pedras in Portugal, for those friendships to be renewed once again as George Digweed sets out his defence of the World Championship.