After finishing the morning at Royal Berkshire Shooting School, it would have seemed a wasted opportunity to not take advantage of being so close to E.J. Churchill Shooting Ground and having a go at their 2014 Churchill Challenge. Needless to say we didn’t waste that chance and after a brief lunch, packed our kit and made the short commute to E.J. Churchill. E.J. Churchill is situated just outside of High Wycombe, and with a location very accessible from the main motorway network ensures that it is relatively painless to get to. That said, the Sat Nav decided to play a few games along the way, citing the fact that it’s so close to the M40 as the reason for the confusion. If you are planning on visiting soon, do yourself a favour and ensure that you use the correct postcode of HP14 3NP; it should save you a lot of unnecessary hassle!

The ground will play host to the World English Sporting Championships in May 2014, this was the perfect opportunity to get acquainted with the surroundings despite the fact that the courses are unlikely to be set on the shooting ground itself as they have access to an abundance of land on the estate literally across the road.

Having pre-booked to shoot the Challenge at 2pm we had time for a brew and a chat prior to meeting up with our esteemed Caddy for the round. The Challenge course comprised of nine stands in total; the first eight of which were “standard” 5 pair stands, with the ninth stand adding a little sparkle to proceedings by being tagged as “a sequence” featuring 5 traps and 20 targets (A-E).

The stands themselves were well thought out and provided ample variety throughout the round, both in terms of shooting position and target presentation, meaning that you really had to work hard to stay on top of things:

  • Stand 1: Going away o/r incoming
  • Stand 2: Left to right rising o/r left to right looper
  • Stand 3: Fast right to left green clay o/r right to left looper (both shot from a Grouse butt)
  • Stand 4: Quartering away left to right rabbit o/r right to left crosser
  • Stand 5: Low right to left blaze crosser o/r right to left battue
  • Stand 6: Quartering away to the right o/r left to right crosser
  • Stand 7: Left to right dropper o/r left to right crossing midi (both off a tower/platform)
  • Stand 8: Sim pair of a fast left to right battue and incoming crow

The Sequence gave 10 different target combinations:

  1. A o/r B
  2. B o/r C
  3. C o/r D
  4. D o/r E
  5. E o/r A
  6. A sim B
  7. B sim C
  8. C sim D
  9. D sim E
  10. E sim A

I started steadily enough straightening the first two stands and felt good about the smoothness and control of my shooting. Stand 3 brought me back to reality with a bump; a careless hold point on the first target left me with too much to do and not enough time, and the shock of missing lingered long enough to detract my attention from the second target. Oops!

Stand 4 saw me get back on track with a nine, missing one of the going away rabbits by racing ahead of it thanks to going back too far and consequently creating a little too much gun movement. Stand 5 saw my less-able alter ego pull the trigger again and I paid the price for giving neither target due credit; under-leading both on more than one occasion.

Stand 6 I carelessly missed a handful of crossers behind; again not giving them due credit, but felt comfortable on the going away shooting it smooth and convincingly. Walking to Stand 7 I was second to shoot and having watched Wayne decimate them decided that I had nothing to loose so I would knuckle down and attack the dropper then make a quick transition to be in the right place to pick up the midi and go with it. Thankfully the plan worked and I added another straight to the scorecard.

As there was another group shooting Stand 8 our caddy took us to the Sequence. The five targets were once again well thought out, presented fairly and ultimately shoot-able for an adequate amount of time:

  • A: Left to right quartering away blaze clay
  • B: High left to right crosser
  • C: Head-height right to left blaze quartering in
  • D: Crow target appearing above a bank
  • E: Right to left rabbit

I missed five throughout the sequence but it felt good having a bit of fun shooting some targets early and others late; sometimes too late! The video below shows Wayne shooting a 16 on it, one less than Tom (much to Tom’s delight):

Stand 8 was a fitting finale and apart from forgetting that it was a simultaneous presentation on my second pair felt that I shot it okay to finish on a 75. With 90 leading A class (well shot Wayne) I knew that I was off the pace and rued the stands on which I hadn’t applied myself fully. As always no experience is wasted and there were a lot of points to take home from the day, ensuring that I can glean as much out of the shoot as possible.

The 2014 Challenge finishes on Saturday 29th March so anyone who hasn’t had a chance to shoot it yet may have missed the proverbial boat this year. Thankfully I won’t have to wait until next year to return as I’ll be squeezing in a visit to EJC again at the start of May for the World English Sporting Championships – hope to see you there!