A warm and dry weekend welcomed over 700 shooters to Southdown Gun Club for the 2012 English Open, which eventually saw a stunning performance from Mark Winser to take home the High Gun Trophy.

The Findon shooting ground had undergone a significant amount of improvements to make it even better for the Open, which took place on ‘The Lane’ layout. New stands had been built and new paths laid to older stands, with five shooting positions not seen before as well as the addition of toilets and a welcome refreshment hut along the track. This was coupled with the excellent facilities in the main clubhouse, a new shop by www.rakers.co.uk and a large marquee area with food and drinks available, the team at Southdown had really stepped up to the mark to make an excellent event

Shooters on Friday and Saturday had to contend with some breeze blowing through the layouts, but overall targets were set to make use of deceiving flight paths and speeds rather than all out distance or eyesight tests.  Most shooters I spoke to felt that everything was hittable and certainly scorecards didn’t show a lot of blanks.

Shaun Peckham of Southdown set the targets, with an aim to make the course fair but testing, keeping shooters honest with birds that needed good reading to ensure line and speed were judged correctly.

A particular highlight were some excellent sim-pairs, such as going away blaze targets coupled with fast crossing targets to catch the eye and deceive, or springing teals with differing flight lines that could be shot either way round, assuming you had gun-speed and control to match!

As usual Southdown made excellent use of tower birds – firing some high midi crossers coupled with curling incomers or rabbits, which needed careful attention from even the high class shooters. In fact, the only thing missing from the day was any driven targets.

Standards throughout the three days were high, with recent Benelli Open winner Martin Myers carding an early excellent 91ex100 on Friday to put a marker down for those to come.  However, as the final squads started to arrive back at the CPSA jury office on Sunday afternoon it was clear that the positions at the top were tight, and a three-way shoot-off for high gun was on the cards.

Scott Greenfield, Brett Hand and Mark Winser were leading the pack on 95ex100, with more ties throughout the classes that required shoot-offs to decide the destination of the trophies.  The Southdown team setup new stands and targets for the shoot-offs in the area behind the club house so a decent sized audience could gather and watch the tense finale to the three days.

For the high gun shoot-off a tricky on report pair of a fast right to left crosser, followed by a quick, fading looper from left to right was set up. After two rounds of shooting, Greater London based Mark Winser emerged triumphant with Scott Greenfield taking second place and Brett Hand in third place.  The AAA class also went to a shoot-off to decide the places, Richard Bunning was a shot clear on 93ex100 for the trophy leaving Mickey Rouse and Ed Solomons on 92ex100 to shoot-off for 2nd place, only a single round of shooting was required this time with Leicestershire based Solomons taking the honours. Down the classes, AA was won by Phil Rowbottom on 91ex100 and A-class by Glen Buckley after a shoot-off with Paddy Howe to separate two 88ex100 scores.  B-Class was won by Phil Marks and the C-Class trophy was won by a single shot on 81ex100 by Simon Ellett from Devon.

For the Ladies trophy – a three way tie on 80ex100 was the subject of yet another shoot-off, with Sarah White edging ahead of Tracey Riddington for the trophy. Becky Bream took the third place trophy.   The Veteran Class Trophy was taken home by Ray Effamy on 89ex100, and the Junior Class was won by Phil Gray on 87ex100.

Overall feedback was that this was a very successful event. Despite attendances being significantly up on last years Open, the squad rotations ran largely very smoothly with only a few delays, no mean feat considering that 750 shooters had to move through the ground.  The team at Southdown were ever present, with Shaun Peckham managing the shooting line effectively and ensuring that traps were full and fixed at all times.  The CPSA jury team were also excellent, managing the SEVEN shoot-offs required and Colin Butler doing an excellent job of announcing the shooters and the prizes being shot far, as well as managing a keen crowd watching the finale.

Congratulations to all the winners at Southdown, and to all the team in Findon for their hard work in making the 2012 English Open a success!