The European FITASC Championships are being held in Lisbon, Portugal this year – and after quick discussions over on the forum – a few of us decided to make the trip, shoot the event and cover all the news and results as they happen. With ShootClay Admin (Matt) are Bob and Wendy.

Team ShootClay mustered early at headquarters, with a 4.30am taxi to Heathrow, we heeded the many warnings about getting checked in with guns and we’re glad we did! Our flight to Lisbon was at 7.40am – so we checked in around 5ish and the wonderful British Airways team called up the security company used to check the guns in and get the paperwork filled out. After 30 minutes we started to see other shooters arriving and following the same process. The next step was to wait for customs to inspect and validate the guns and paperwork and escort our cases down to the plane, we waited nearly one hour for anyone to arrive at the customs desk, causing most of us to wonder how we’ll cope when several hundred shooters arrive for the World Championship and the Olympics in late July!  Once we found staff, they validated the paperwork in quick time and got us on our way to the plane.

A quick two and a quarter hour flight to Lisbon and we steeled ourselves for more waiting and paperwork, but Portuguese organisation was different again, our guns were waiting for us in the red channel and a quick comparison of our European Firearms passes to the serial numbers on our guns and we were away!

A 45 minute drive in our rental car bought us to the ground, near the small town of Ota. The Clube de Tiro Vale de Pedras is set in hills, with some scrubland and trees. Weather was warm on our arrival and we set out to explore.  The central area of the shooting ground has been given over to a Championship ‘Village’ with concession stalls and shops and some small refreshment areas, we found some lunch and settled down to a decent meal.

We then picked up our pre-ordered cartridges – Hull Pro Ones for us, organised by mail but paid for at the ground, and all reserved for us.  We wanted to get some feel for some different ammunition and the targets that lay ahead.

After a little relaxation we decided to do some light practice – with training lines of FITASC parcours setup around the edge of the ground (Browning, Beretta and Kreighoff lines were open today). The system is good, with a ticket for 8 targets (a parcours worth) costing 3 euros – so we bagged a few tickets and headed out.  Targets were as expected, a good mixture of quick, edgy birds and some tricky blaze going aways with some long loping incomers. Team ShootClay warmed up for a while – everyone shooting well and making lots of first barrel kills, but the scorers were generous when a target was missed, giving us a chance to try a target again, or try a different pair combination to get our eye in.  We met shooters warming up from France, Greece, Austria, Russia and some Brits – it’s great to meet shooters from all over the world.

After about 50 targets – we wandered back for more drinks – it is hot and dusty, going to be very important to stay hydrated here, and Bob decided to utilise the excellent Kreighoff facility here, booking his gun in for a ‘while you wait’ annual service.  We relaxed with a Krieghoff beer whilst the legendary Wolfie from the R&D department at Kreighoff in Ulm disassembled Bobs gun, and replaced all the moving parts inside! We watched much of the process, seeing a master craftsman at work was excellent, the care and precision he took at making sure everything was just-so was very impressive.  I have to say this is an excellent service for the Kreighoff shooters, and I’m going to explore tomorrow to see what the other manufacturers are offering here.

This evening was back for a decent meal at our hotel (about 25 mins drive away from the ground), tomorrow will be more practice and the opening ceremonies – we’ll report back with more pictures from the ground.

Thursday – competition starts, and we’ll be bringing up to date scores and results from the ground.