As the mid-week shooting events gather pace, it’s great to see new grounds joining the party and providing somewhere for clay shooters to test themselves during the week. Nick Truter took a trip down to Prescott Shooting School near Cheltenham to take part in the first of their summer series.
Weekends are hectic; full of family commitments and a list of chores that make the Magna Carta look like a thank you note, so squeezing in time to shoot a registered English Sporting event is not a common occurrence. Prescott Shooting Company, just outside of Cheltenham in the Cotswolds, have provided a more time-friendly option in the form of their Hull Cartridge sponsored Summer 6 Series, hosted on the first Wednesday of each month throughout the Summer:
Admittedly Prescott isn’t exactly on my doorstep, but the lure of getting to not only shoot at a new ground, coupled with the chance to get another registered score in was too much to refuse, so I made the necessary arrangements to secure the afternoon off and head down to the ground to get on one of the last squads out at just after 3pm for the first shoot of their 2014 Summer 6 Series.
The hundred target round comprised of 12 stands; ten of four pairs and two of five pairs. Ten of the stands were situated either side of a pathway that led down a little valley whilst the final two were out in the field at the front of the clubhouse. The clubhouse was small but well presented featuring an on-site shop. There were a couple of 10×10 pop ups over some benches to provide some covered outside seating and a refreshment stall ensured that any nutritional requirements were met.
Dan at Prescott made the decision to squad the shoot, and although pre-booking was encouraged, anyone who had neglected to do so was put on the next available squad due to go out. I arrived shortly before 3pm and having met up with fellow ShootClayer Nick Selby, we both booked on, kitted up and were ambling down towards stand one by 3.15pm.
Our squad of five comprised of myself, Nick and three local Gloucestershire lads; two steady A class shots Steve and Tom as well as a decent B class shot called Richard. All of them kept themselves to themselves throughout the round and it was clear from the outset that they were all keen to get their heads down and build a decent score.
I was first in the cage for Stand 1; an on-report pair of a fading right to left crosser into a tree and a high left to right crosser emerging through the trees. Four pairs later I had eight kills on my card so had the best start possible and was already beginning to shake off any signs of tiredness from the drive down.
Stand 2 saw the squad rotate and I was up last. The cage was positioned at the bottom of a slope so that the clays presented were high above the treeline directly in-front of the shooter. This was another on-report, four pair stand, this time featuring a high left to right stalling clay and a left to right looper that landed fifteen feet to the right of the cage. With the first pair smoked, my brain kicked into gear and I started to over-analyse the staller. This completely messed up my rhythm resulting in a pair lost and subsequent over-thinking resulted in two more stallers lost! Back to earth with a bump!
The third stand was a simultaneous pair of right to left crossers above the treeline, the front of which was slightly higher than the back. Due to the front target being visible for longer my gut instinct was to shoot the back target first and then move onto the then fading front target. Steve was up first and I couldn’t resist capturing his unique Thundercats-esque style of calling for a target:
When my turn to shoot came I stuck with my instincts and killed the rearmost clay convincingly on the first two pairs, rushing each of the front targets to leave me with kill, loss, kill, loss. A slight rethink saw me be too deliberate on the back clay then take my time on the second for loss, kill, then what can only be described as a mental coma saw me waste the final pair for a very disappointing 3 ex 8.
Stand 4 was the first of the five pair stands and comprised of an incoming right to left looper followed by a quartering away left to right on report. Having given myself a stern talking to on the brief walk between the stands it was time to get things back on track. The looper was clearly visible for 80% of it’s flight so I picked a point shortly after the peak to leave me with a short transition to my hold point for the quartering away shot, allowing me to clearly see if it came out differently to what I was expected. The plan was good and it felt even better to have a line on the card void of losses!
The next stand was the second and final five pair stand; nothing like get them both done in quick succession! The cage was a dug out in a fairly steep bank and the targets were a report pair consisting of a fast right to left standard crosser along the top of the bank, followed by a target sent from a trap half way up the back to the left of the cage that acted like a rolling teal; peaking in front of the shooter and then falling nearby to the right of the cage.
The first target lost speed quickly after the first half of its flight, so I knew that I would be best shooting it gun up and quickly before it got to the cage. The temptation with the second target was to let it peak and fall towards you but the clays that I watch were a little too variable for my liking falling 15 feet apart on occasions so I elected to shoot it on the way up the bank instead where it was under power and consistent. I dropped the third crosser; shooting above it as the clay dropped more than its predecessors to finish on a 9.
Stand 6 was a testing pair of a fast quartering away left to right that appeared late from behind a bush followed by a report target that was looping above the cage into a treeline. The position of the cage meant that the first target had to be shot in a relatively small window and that the second was almost directly above the cage when I shot it. Eight straight I had gathered a bit more composure and confidence was creeping back into my shooting.
The next stand was a pair of blaze teals, one from the right followed by one from the left, that climbed steeply and disappeared into the trees. The trap on the right threw its target slightly higher and faster than its counterpart so I was pleased to have identified the danger of treating them equally and shooting over the second target and used that knowledge to good effect to ensure another straight. Here’s a brief clip of a shooter in the squad in front shooting a couple of the pairs:
If Dan had intended to set a stand to sort the men from the boys, Stand 8 slotted into that role perfectly. A report pair of driven targets, one standard and one midi, both of which were thrown from a distant platform off a crane. Having watched the targets I elected to shoot at least the first target as a crosser as it slowed significantly towards the end of its flight, but the longer you waited the greater the risk of it coming off-line. The midi was a different beast; fast and variable and I never touched one leaving me on another 3 ex 8. In hindsight I should have double barrelled the standard that I missed for a four.
Stand 9 featured a pair of going away targets rising slightly up the bank. The first target was very low and easily missed over the top, whereas the second target rose sharply in contrast; both required considerable care. The U3’s had some respite and the U1’s were enlisted as both clays were well within 25 yards. Four pairs later another straight was logged. Here is a clip of Tom shooting a pair filmed in slow motion:
Three stands to go and I was aware that I could rescue a respectable score but needed to keep concentrating and being methodical. Stand 10 was shot in the middle of the Compak layout and featured a report pair of a crossing left to right standard that came from the top of the bank and drifted into the trees on the right followed by an on-report driven target that quartered from right to left. The crosser was steady, providing that the shooter didn’t rush and allowed it to develop. The driven was best shot before it got level with the cage to avoid any excess gun movement and potential misses in front. I made my plan, stuck to it and ground out another 8.
I managed to film one of the driven clays that Richard shot on this stand in Slow motion so that you can see the clay breaking:
Stand 11 was another good test; a curling incomer from the corner of the field travelling from left to right followed by a report midi target racing above the fence line into the wood at the edge of the field. The curler was steady but the midi was a bit of a beast never showing more than half its face and if left to late turned flat to leave the shooter with not a lot to go at. My hold points related to fence posts allowing a quick transition and a smooth pick up of the midi pulling away slightly to a decent gap and shooting when it felt right. Eight kills later I breathed a sigh of relief and watched the rest of the squad shoot with a smile on my face.
The final stand was the other side of the track leading to the clubhouse and comprised on a quartering across left to right with a midi left to right. Last up I was faced with the double edged sword of choosing to watch how the others shot it; the upside was that I decided to shoot the first target using swing through with good success but unfortunately also managed to talk myself into giving the midi more than it actually needed, a lesson that cost me three to finish on 5 ex 8 for the stand and 82 in total.
Considering the two bad stands and two careless stands I was delighted with the other eight and the fact that I’d managed to dig deep after taking in a decent chunk of motorway to get there. The shoot was thoroughly enjoyable and testing throughout with short windows and clever angles meaning that only one shot, Steve Lovatt, managed to break to 90 barrier and win High Gun with his 93. Well shot Steve!
Dan and the team at Prescott Shooting put on a good first registered shoot and with thirty entrants was a steady start to their Summer 6 Series. My 82 held on for joint 1st in A Class with Chris Bubb. The full results will soon be posted on Prescott Shooting’s website, but for now they have put the following results on their Facebook page.
Roll on 7th May…
Here is a small gallery from the shoot: