Left to right; Steve Durrant 3rd F Open. John Cross 1st FTR. Ian Bellis 2nd F Open. Darren Stewart 1st F Open. Peter Dommett 2nd FTR. Martin Miles - Photo Bombed. Celt Rideout 3rd FTR
“Breezy Bisley and the Short Range Championships”
The 2017 National League got off to a very good start at Bisley with the Short Range Championships, we had a healthy entry of 83 shooters, including many new faces making their debut. There was a pretty even divide between F/Open and FTR; previously, FTR had tended to predominate, though not this time.
It was particularly encouraging to see so many new faces amongst the competitors, especially in the FTR discipline, many of our new recruits were local to the southern area and seemed at home on Century range, it showed in their match results. We don’t normally shoot the short range at Bisley, so it was a welcome surprise to see how many useful range improvements had been made to Century. More to the point, it was a pleasure to meet many old and new friends we had not seen all winter; there were many exchanges of “Happy New Year”.
The weather was a lot better than the forecast; it wasn’t quite as blustery as predicted, but all the same it was challenging enough to keep everyone on their toes. Thankfully though, it was mostly dry, with only light drizzle to contend with.
On Saturday morning the cold westerly wind quartered across the range it needed up to 4 minutes of wind when at a maximum, but the variability meant that was often a little too much, and sometimes nowhere near enough, thereby leaving shooters well wide of the mark.
“Ping-pong” was one apt term for the bullet being sent from one side of the tight target to the other in successive shots.
For many shooters, this was their first competitive outing since last November, so it was quite understandable if many were rather rusty to begin with.
FTR were first into the breach and Richie Jones stamped his authority on the first stage by taking the gold medal with the only “75” out of all the FTR shooters –that really says a lot about just how difficult the conditions were! Al credit is due to Richie then for rising to the challenge and managing to steer all of his bullets into the centre.
Normally, you’d expect the F/Open guys to have more success in keeping their shots in the middle, but such was the difficulty of the switching wind condition, that only two managed to keep them all in the middle: Simon West in top position, followed closely by last year’s match winner, Robert Thompson. Dymtro Hrmalyuk – all the way from the Ukraine was not far behind in third.
1st Richard Jones. 75.07
2nd John Cross. 73.07
3rd Paul Harkins. 73.07
1st Simon West. 75.07
2nd Robert Thompson. 75.06
3rd Dymtro Hrmalyuk. 74.09
This was another 2+15 stage, the shooters were making very good time despite the tricky conditions – there was no point delaying as rain looked to be imminent, so most shooters wanted to get on with it. The darkening skies brought more turbulent wind conditions and most shooters struggled to get a grip of the frequent changes. This time, in FTR nobody managed to clean the target and in fact only last year’s match winner managed to achieve 71 – that was Ian Chenery, Dean Wallace was the only other shooter to break 70, most were pushed down into the 60’s, such as Celt Rideout in third place.
F/Open didn’t have it any easier; their scores were noticeably depressed too, with only two ‘75’s. Richard Sharma took gold using his brand new 6mm VAIS, while silver and bronze were won by two ‘prodigal sons’ who were making a welcome return to competition after taking a year out; Ian Bellis and Ian Chapman, despite their time out, they showed they hadn’t lost it.
1st Ian Chenery. 71.05
2nd Dean Wallace. 70.04
3rd Celt Rideout. 69.04
1st Richard Sharman. 75.05
2nd Ian Bellis. 75.04
3rd Ian Chapman. 74.06
After lunch we resumed the match with a barrel-warming 2+20, by now the shooters were “getting their eye in”, learning what to look out for and learning how to react, if anything the mean wind speed had actually increased somewhat, but was perhaps not quite as blustery, which helped to make it just a little more manageable.
In FTR, Ian Chenery and Celt Rideout seemed to be on top form, both of them won their second medals of the day, with Adam Bagnal not at all far behind in third place. In F/Open, Phil Shambrook had a fantastic shoot, he was the only shooter to clean the target with a superb 100.04. Ian Bellis took his second medal of the day, showing he was on top form even after a year out. Darren Stewart made a prescient appearance in third.
1st Ian Chenery. 94.05
2nd Celt Rideout. 93.06
3rd Adam Bagnall. 93.04
1st Phil Shambrook. 100.04
2nd Ian Bellis. 98.11
3rd Darren Stewart. 98.09
Summing up the day’s action, it had been a challenging day, although the forecast for horrendous conditions had been mercifully wrong, the weather as it had transpired had been quite enough of an ordeal and had given our best wind-readers a very good opportunity to show what they could do. The overnight leaders were comprised of a good mixture of relatively new competitors and experienced old campaigners.
The daily totals were as follows:
1st Ian Chenery. 237.15
2nd John Cross. 232.16
3rd Pete Dommett. 231.15
1st Ian Bellis. 245.20
2nd Darren Stewart. 243.22
3rd Steve Durrant. 242.18
We awoke to find Sunday was noticeably warmer that it had been the day before and was rather brighter too – the biggest difference was the wind; it was rather as it had been for stage 3 – a fairly strong, but quite consistent wind, in other words a difficult, though manageable condition which gave rise to some well-earned higher scores.
In FTR, our diminutive lady shooter Elena Davis absolutely ‘owned’ this stage by taking gold with her distinctive pink rifle made-to-measure for her by Neil McKillop. John Ambler and Paul Harkins could not quite reach Elena, but they acquitted themselves well anyhow taking silver and bronze respectively.
F/Open had the pleasure starting the day first and perhaps the conditions were just a little better then as their scores were substantially improved; five shooters had ‘75’s, and of those Darren Stewart had racked up an astonishing 12 v’s, a very impressive performance indeed. A countback was needed to separate Craig Titmus and Martin Townsend, both were on fire.
1st Elena Davis. 75.08
2nd John Ambler. 75.02
3rd Paul Harkins. 74.08
1st Darren Stewart. 75.12
2nd Craig Titmus. 75.10
3rd Martin Townsend. 75.10
We had to squeeze in the last stage of the match a 2+20 before the ranges closed for lunch, as it happens there was little to worry about regarding the timing; most shooters were able to ‘crack on’ at a good pace and apart from the usual isolated problems with stuck cases and misfires, the detail progressed at a good speed. It was now reasonably warm for the time of year, not enough to show much mirage though, but pleasant nonetheless. This had a significant beneficial effect on the scores, now the competitors were really able to explore what they, their ammo’ and rifles could really do. There were some fantastic scores posted in both FTR and F/Open, it was a great way to end the match.
John Ambler won his second medal of the day, winning the FTR gold medal with a superb 98.10, an outstanding performance. Celt Rideout and Paul Binns were not too far behind. In F/Open, our highly-experienced GB Benchrest shooter Martin Miles took the gold with a simply stunning 99.11 after a countback with our big genial Irish friend Noel McCarthy. Steve Durrant came 3rd.
1st John Ambler. 98.10
2nd Celt Rideout. 98.07
3rd Paul Binns. 97.08
1st Martin Miles. 99.11
2nd Noel McCarthy. 99.11
3rd Steve Durrant. 99.10
So that concluded the match, we had remained dry for the most part thankfully and the wind had provided a challenge to test out the bravest and best wind readers, which is just as it should be.
Throughout the weekend, Tina Maksimovic, Paola Zanonni and Darren Stuart had been keeping our stats up to date, so in no time they had the final results ready.
The FTR National League Short Range Championship was won by John Cross with a superb tally of 401.29. John was the only FTR shooter to break 400, he had been shooting consistently well at a high standard all weekend, all credit to him. Coming very close behind were two relatively new shooters; Pete Dommett and Celt Rideout, both on 399. Both shooters are in the early stages of their F-class careers and have shot outstandingly, it bodes very well for their future if they can keep this up.
In F/Open the title of Short Range Champion was won very convincingly by the popular and all-round good guy Darren Stewart with 414.45 Take note of his phenomenal v-count, it was miles ahead of everyone. In second we had more ‘new’ faces of Ian Bellis and Steve Durrant, it was particularly good to see some new guys getting their fair share of the glory, are all clearly talented shooters.
1st John Cross. 401.29
2nd Pete Dommett. 399.29
3rd Celt Rideout. 399.27
1st Darren Stewart. 414.45
2nd Ian Bellis. 412.31
3rd Steve Durrant. 411.32
And finally….special mention should be made of Steve Durrant. While driving on his way to the range, Steve witnessed a road traffic accident and gallantly stopped to offer assistance to an injured motorist. Without any bandages or anything of that sort, Steve had to resort to using – his trousers! The consequence was that Steve arrived late for his detail – and missing his trousers, he didn’t let that put him off though; he still won a creditable 3rd in Stage 5 and indeed 3rd overall.
We’ll need to watch out for Steve in future, if he can cope with that and still prevail, he can cope with anything!
Thanks are due to our stalwart Range Officers who were on their feet all day, every day throughout all conditions, dressed in their artic weather gear they were unfailing good-natured and helpful.
It was a very big weekend for our match organisers; Mik and Tina who worked tirelessly to ensure the match went well. They were amply rewarded though, the results showed that 8 out of the top 10 FTR shooters used Dolphin rifles and all 3 top F/Open shooter also used Dolphin rifles, a very pleasing outcome indeed, and vindication for all their hard work.
We are grateful to everyone involved for making the first league match of the new 2017 season such an enjoyable success.
See you at Diggle next month for more of the same!
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