On Saturday 28th December the West Midlands Shooting Ground, aka Hodnet, hosted their annual “Hodnet Challenge”. As always the event was well attended with 250 shooters anticipated to make their way to the mecca of Sporting grounds for what is for me at least, an annual pilgrimage. Ever popular, entrants are encouraged to book in ahead of time to avoid disappointment and despite doing exactly that I am yet to see any last minute entrants being turned away who wished to pay on arrival.

The weather in the week preceding the event was nothing short of dire, with wind and rain tormenting the region, supressing my excitement for shooting anytime soon. Thankfully Mother Nature was kind and a beautifully crisp Winter day greeted those who had committed to the event. I’d made prior arrangements to meet up with chum of mine Gareth Jones (“Shortlegs” from www.shootclayforum.com), who was staying locally to me over the festive period, and travel down to Hodnet together. Shooting with Gareth is always light-hearted and enjoyable, and I always relish the opportunity to catch up and enjoy some clay busting together.

On arrival at Hodnet, the new clubhouse and shop was nothing short of impressive. Some serious thought has gone into improving the facilities at the ground and the shop and club house must be up there amongst the best in the country now. My only gripe is that for a ground and overall set-up that is so prestigious I was a little let down by the fact that the best the kitchen could offer was a bacon sandwich or a cheeseburger! Time to invest in a new chef maybe…

The Hodnet Challenge course comprised of 14 stands featuring a mixture of three and four pairs to combine to form the 100 target round.

  1. Left to right crosser o/r Overhead
  2. Left to right Blaze low looper o/r right to left midi crosser
  3. Incoming standard from left o/r left to right quartering away.
  4. Sim pair right to left looper and incoming crow
  5. Sim pair of right to left quartering away
  6. Left to right blazer looper o/r blaze quartering away
  7. Right to left high crosser o/r right to left higher crosser
  8. Standard driven o/r midi driven
  9. Left to right longgggg crosser o/r driven
  10. Left to right midi crosser o/r left to right blaze battue
  11. Right to left high roller o/r left to right fast standard
  12. Left to right low crosser o/r right to left low crosser
  13. Sim pair low blaze going away incoming blaze crow
  14. Right to left close rabbit o/r high left to right midi crosser

As shooters have come to expect, the target quality at Hodnet is something worth travelling for. Testing throughout and even the seemingly straight-forward can rob you of kills from your scorecard, as the roller on stand 11 proved to me! The sheer diversity was what I went for as I wanted to put the new 32″ tubes through their paces on a variety of targets to see what adjustments I needed to make to facilitate me shooting well with the longer barrels.

We were fortunate enough to follow Brett and John Hand around the majority of the shoot and although I have seen both shoot before, I was particularly struck by how effortless John made everything look and took away a few valuable tips in particular with regards to foot positions when accounting for two targets that required a little “in-stand shuffling”. Aside from the targets, the backgrounds that you have to pick them up against are equally impressive and testing as I hope that those who are yet to shoot at Hodnet can get an idea from these pictures of the ground;

I managed to use the slow motion capture on my new iPhone 5S again and captured Gareth shooting a couple of the stands:

Stand 10:


Stand 13:



Thanks to the staff at Hodnet for once again putting on a cracking course ; I was very impressed with the target quality throughout and not unhappy to finish on an 81 when all said and done:

The 81 was steady and the shoot itself has served its purpose by exposing a couple of areas that I need to work diligently on over the coming months to ensure that I make the most of each and every day shooting that I have. With only a handful of days left in 2013 I’m off to Dovey Valley for an extreme practice day with a good crowd on Monday 30th December to get more lead downrange and get even better acquainted with the gun. Happy days!

A gallery of photos from my day at Hodnet: