(Photo by - Laurie Holland)
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FTR winner Adam Bagnall campaigning with a brand-new rifle – more on that below…
"The Northern F-class Championships is the UK’s oldest F-class competition"
The Northern F-class Championships is the UK’s oldest F-class competition, it predates the National League by several years and was simply incorporated into the League when it was being established. Key members of the PSSA were keen early advocates of F-class and they helped immeasurably to help get the discipline up and running in the UK.
Attendance for the match was a bit of a mixed bag – the F/TR side was well supported with nearly two full details, but F/Open numbers were rather diminished, we guessed that the impending World Championships may be causing shooters to carefully manage their finances and perhaps more significantly, their vacation time.
Diggle lived up to its well-deserved reputation for having all sorts of weather in a short timescale; from lashing rain one day, to warm bright sunshine the next. Such is life at Diggle we all know what to expect and it is all part of the charm of the place.
It isn’t all about shooting – there is target marking too and there was a convivial atmosphere in the butts, thanks largely to having a new generator to power a pair of kettles and a big supply of tea & coffee – it made all the difference to maintaining morale and concentration. We did note the absence of chocolate biscuits though, how remiss of our organiser, Les Holgate.
The FTR guys had the best of the weather on Saturday morning; it was for the most part dry and bright, the wind was fairly gentle to begin with, but as the morning wore on the approaching weather front pushed harder, bringing stronger winds. Most shooters had a good opportunity to see what they, their rifles and ammo’ were capable of at 800yds, before moving back to 1,000yds and the more testing condition.
Stage 1 800yds
Steve Donaldson made a very welcome return to form after making a full recovery from his fall at the previous Diggle League match, due to injury Steve has had limited opportunities to shoot this year – only 150rds in fact. Nevertheless, he shot well to win the first stage. Matt Jarram was not far behind, just ahead of Adam Bagnall on a countback. Matt was glad to be back on good form again. As for Adam he was campaigning with a brand-new rifle – more on that later… It was good to see a trio of our most talented FTR guys battling it out for supremacy at 800yds. The highest V-count was achieved by Elena Davis with 11 V-bulls.
1 Steve Donaldson 97.09
2 Matt Jarram 96.06
3 Adam Bagnall 96.06
Stage 2 1,000yds
By mid-morning, the best conditions had passed and now the wind was beginning to pick up in advance of the impending weather front; sudden gusts made life rather difficult for the shooters and it showed in the scores, with only two managing to break 90. Some shooters thrive in adversity and so it would appear in the results with three of our most experienced shooters taking to the podium. In first, with the highest score and best V-count was GBFCA Chairman and 2016 National Champion, Stuart Anselm with his Victrix rifle. Just two points behind and earning his second medal of the morning with that mysterious new rifle was Adam Bagnall again, John Cross our current Short Range Champion, showed he can do it at long range too by taking the bronze medal.
1 Stuart Anselm 93.07
2 Adam Bagnall 91.03
3 John Cross 89.02
There was a quick 20 minute break for lunch then the F/Open guys got to play. By now though the weather had really deteriorated rather badly; the light drizzle had given way to light rain and the wind too had picked up in intensity. This was not going to be a picnic. We could not help but ponder on how it was usually the luck of FTR guys to get soaked at each League match, but now the tables were turned and all the shiny bling F/Open rifles were going to get rather wet….such is life.
Stage 1 800yds
People have sometimes pondered on the wisdom of having an “adverse weather rifle” a big cannon capable of cutting through choppy conditions when everyone else is being blown hither and thither. It would seem that Paul Key has invested in just such a rifle; a big 300 RUM. It certainly paid dividends for Paul in that detail, earning him the only 100 of the match, in second and with the highest V-count was local man Richard Huby using his local knowledge to good effect and pushing yours truly into 3rd place.
1 Paul Key 100.09
2 Richard Huby 99.10
3 Des Parr 99.09
Stage 2 1,000yds
By now it was evident that the F/Open guys were in for a real soaking, the skies darkened, the wind picked up and the shooters were resigned to it – we were already wet and so we might as well just soldier on and make the most of it. Coping well with adversity has a lot to do with success in shooting; if you can ignore the fact that you’re lying in a puddle of water then you’re already ahead of those who become despondent in such conditions. It would seem that Scotsman Robert Thomson is accustomed to ignoring the rain, taking first place followed closely behind by Richard Huby earning his second medal of the afternoon and Ian Boxall who is always a contender in any match.
1 Robert Thomson 96.07
2 Richard Huby 95.05
3 Ian Boxall 95.02
After shooting had been completed, the weather had the cheek to improve – it was almost as though there was a guiding hand at work, ensuring the deluge only lasted as long as the shooting continued. A couple of dozen drenched F/Open guys trudged through the mire back to their cars with all the sodden kit, wondering how they’d ever get it all dried out in time for the next morning. Now we knew how it felt to be an FTR shooter – at every single league match last year they got a thorough soaking, it was a case of “swings and roundabouts” and perhaps it was overdue for F/Open to share in the misery.
Things never stay the same for long at Diggle and Sunday dawned bright, calm and dry. Now it was the turn of the F/Open guys to shoot first and enjoy the good conditions. The early morning sun can be quite dazzling as the range faces east towards the rising sun, a mirage tube or at least a sunshade is very beneficial in such situations to reduce the glare; it seems typical that we long for good weather and as soon as it arrives it brings its own difficulties albeit very minor ones of course. Apart from the light, the main consideration was the wind – it was devilishly fast-changing, with very quick pick-ups and sudden drop-offs.
Stage 3 800yds
Peter Hunt has made a welcome return to the League after taking time out to arrange his relocation from Scotland, he seems to be in fine form again, taking the lead at 800yds. In second place, it was the now familiar sight of Richard Huby – earning his third silver medal of the match, Richard was having a remarkably consistent run of shoots. Not far behind him and with the highest V-count was Simon West no doubt using one of his son Joe West’s eponymous stocks.
1 Peter Hunt 75.06
2 Richard Huby 75.04
3 Simon West 74.08
Stage 4 1,000yds
By now it was warming nicely and not too bright, the wind had picked up in strength though and still had a tendency towards hitting us with pick-ups and drop-offs, given the increased wind strength, those changes tended to be pretty big and failing to see them was very costly indeed. Robert Thomson seemed to be aware of the changes and acted accordingly to only drop one point! an amazing achievement in those conditions. Mark Bannon, our Irish friend was also in good form taking silver and edging out Simon West into taking his second bronze of the match.
1 Robert Thomson 99.09
2 Mark Bannon 97.06
3 Simon West 96.09
Stage 3 800yds
The F/TR guys now emerged from the butts to have their fun, it remained warm dry and sunny though that wind was still as challenging; good wind-reading skills would be required to prevail and that’s exactly what Adam Bagnall had – and a very radical new rifle! The “Mono Rifle” was making its debut performance and was really making a striking impression on all. In second, came Stuart Anselm, multi-tasking as always between competing and compiling the match stats. Bronze medal was won by Brogan O’Shea-Smith. Brogan is one of our newer and younger competitors and shows great promise of things to come in getting onto the podium in such company.
1 Adam Bagnall 74.08
2 Stuart Anselm 73.07
3 Brogan O’Shea-Smith 73.06
Stage 4 1,000yds
The wind was by now becoming quite vigorous; the strength was building and those devilish switches become all the more damaging in such strong winds, consequently punishing the unwary – or the simply unlucky, as there is always an element of chance involved in such volatile conditions. Nobody managed to break 90 which says it all about just how tricky it was, but nevertheless the cream always rises to the top, and it was Adam Bagnall again with that brand new Mono rifle of his who prevailed. Only one V-bull behind came Neil Calder with what must surely be one of his finest performances, securing him a well-earned Silver. Bronze was won by Carrie Ryan another of our newest and youngest competitors who is showing she has what it takes to succeed.
1 Adam Bagnall 89.02
2 Neil Calder 89.01
3 Carrie Ryan 88.02
The Match Winners
In F/Open, Robert Thomson’s superb 99.9 at 1,000yds ensured that he prevailed over all to take the title and big silver salver, it had been a fantastic return to form for Richard and we look forward to seeing more of the same from him now as the season progresses. Mark Bannon proved it was well worth taking all the time and trouble to come over from Ireland, earning the silver and valuable league points. Ian Boxall took the bronze, Ian is having a good season; he is one of our most consistent shooters and is never very far away from the front of the pack.
1 Robert Thomson 367.30
2 Mark Bannon 361.22
3 Ian Boxall 360.15
In F/TR the tile of “Northern Champion” was won very convincingly by Adam Bagnall – by a full 6 point margin and after medalling in every stage of the match – what a performance! All the more remarkable for using an innovative and novel design of rifle – the “Mono Rifle”, I am sure we all want to know more about this distinctive new rifle, hopefully Target Shooter magazine will provide more in-depth information soon. Second place was won by Stuart Anselm who managed to run his shop, do the stats and perform to a high standard all at the same time, it is a credit to his abilities.
Third place went to the youngest member of the 101 contingent; Carrie Ryan which is a fantastic achievement for somebody so new to the sport.
1 Adam Bagnall 350.19
2 Stuart Anselm 344.25
3 Carrie Ryan 341.13
We owe our thanks to several people who helped make the match a success, to our match organiser Les Holgate for taking overall charge of the match, to Ian Dixon for making brand-new targets which were a pleasure to use and to Laurie Holland for volunteering to provide range officer cover.
It is always a pleasure to visit Diggle and the Northern Championships were no exception; good company, challenging conditions and high standards are all the ingredients for a good match. It really seems a shame therefore that we’ll not be returning to Diggle again this year, though there was a suggestion that the calendar might be amended for 2018 to ensure a better chance of good weather by hosting a match in July, there will be more on that later in the season.
Meanwhile, the next big event will be the “Long Range Challenge” at Bisley in June, entries are available online click here, see you there!
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