The 2014 World English Sporting Championships is currently running at EJ Churchill, encompassing FITASC, Sportrap and English Sporting events throughout the week long calendar of events, culminating in the top 6 shooters competing in a 25 flash-target Super Final to decide who is the World English Sporting Champion on Sunday afternoon. Team USA are in attendance, and have already been acclimatising and practising at local grounds such as Southdown Gun Club this past weekend. British shooters have the home turf advantage along with familiarity of the style of targets. Will the cream rise to the top, or will someone make a name for themselves. In 6 days time we will know…

One full day into the 2014 World English Sporting Championships and I am already excited by the prospect of what the  remainder of the week will hold in store for me and hundreds of other shots, all of whom will be heading to EJ Churchill and West Wycombe Estate to compete in their chosen disciplines. Any title with “World” and “Championship” in it immediately creates images of grandeur ranging from lavish trophies to expansive trade shows, side events featuring exhibition shooters and an infrastructure befitting to such a prestigious accolade. How close reality resides to these expectations is yet to be determined.

The opportunity to participate in/attend the event is enticing for multiple reasons. As a shooter I assume that the targets will be testing and the format of the competition more akin to the bigger international events with the total amount of targets being spread over consecutive days. As a fan of shooting I have the opportunity to see many of the best shots in the world in action on two courses, both of which I will also be shooting at the weekend. Finally, the draw of the event means that it will be a great opportunity to catch up with friends, customers and sponsored shooters from Europe and the USA.

The UK plays host to a vibrant shooting community with many grounds and gun shops experiencing a welcome upturn in custom hinting at the demise of the recession. Registered events, in general, are well attended and shooters seem prepared to travel significant distances to whichever grounds they perceive to offer value for money and challenging targets. In stark contrast, the prices at which entry fees have been set for the “Worlds” seem to have proved the deciding factor for many as to whether or not they are High Wycombe bound at all this week.

I appreciate that for many their decision will have been influenced by factors such as location, addition expenses of fuel, hotels and meals, but still cannot escape the reality that the entry fee for the main event of £125 seems artificially high, especially when compared to the recent 2014 Essex Masters which was also 200 targets but staggeringly good value at only £75, and could if the participant wanted be shot all in one day to avoid incurring any unwanted additional expenses.

Running costs for the two events must share similarities as they both feature identical amounts of targets and stands, so overheads should be comparable. Admittedly there could be variances in costs associated with ground hire, infrastructure and promotion of the event, but undeniably there will be a differential between the cost of the two. The golden question, in my opinion is what do we, the shooters, get in return for the additional entry fee?

An event of the magnitude of a World Championship will have varying levels of appeal for shooters throughout the ability spectrum. The AAA and AA will be the most likely to have their sights set on the title as well as the coveted High Gun prize of a sponsored gun and/or cash, whilst those frequenting the remainder of the classes and categories will have mixed aspirations of class/category prizes, the desire to measure their ability against their peers or simply wish to experience participating in one of the sports Major Championships.

The question as to whether or not the event is deemed to have been good value for money will  yield a personal answer. Some will find worth in shooting alongside the best men and women in the sport, others will determine that it is an affordable event to get to/from, whilst many may be taking the opportunity to shoot at a ground they have never previously attended.

The main 200 target event runs from 1st-4th May 2014 and is yet to be sold out, with just shy of 900 out of the maximum 1248 spaces booked thus far. This speaks volumes as to how the pricing of the event has been received by shooters. Ultimately perceived value dictates how full the event will become; whether those entered have made a good decision only they will know come Sunday night.