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Featured in the March 2012 issue

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March arrives and suddenly we are all coming out of hibernation and that means that shooting sports take on a new, busy look. Clay pigeon shooting, for instance, gets busier and it seems that there are more and more people in this county looking at the sport as a new leisure pursuit. It is fun, affordable and competitive, but with great friendships formed and nothing gets hurt. What more could you ask?

OLYMPIC HOPE STILL BURNING
If you haven’t yet had your invitation to shoot for Team GB don’t give up. There may be fewer than seven months remaining until the fifteen shooting events of the London 2012 Olympics begin on 28th July, but places are still up for grabs in the Great Britain team.

Phil Scanlan, British Shooting’s team leader, recently said that competitive shooters who are still hopeful of making the team, even those who failed to make a recently published shortlist, should continue to work hard.

He said: “No decisions have been made. We have the shortlist, but that just makes it simpler for us to see who is at the forefront in terms of selection. I’d encourage all our shooters who are hopeful of making the team to keep going – it’s not over until it’s over.”

The selection process is complicated. A quota place guarantees that someone from a given country will be competing in that Olympic event, but the place is not guaranteed to be awarded to the athlete who earned it. This curious situation means that even the four British athletes who won one of the coveted spots for Team GB through their excellent performances last year – Peter Wilson and Richard Faulds in double trap, Richard Brickell in skeet and Georgina Geikie in the 25m pistol event – are not guaranteed a place on the biggest stage of all.

And with one opportunity to earn quota places still remaining for pistol and rifle shooters, and two World Cup events in the US and London in March and April for shotgun disciplines, the door remains open for hopefuls to impress selectors and make a late bid for selection.

Mr Scanlan said: “We’ll certainly look at performances in those events, and in terms of an indication of current form, that could be one of the criteria taken into account.

“In some events the situation is less clear because of scores that were made in events last year, so the message to everyone until that final selection meeting on 2nd May would be just to keep shooting as well as you can.”

So, there you go – nil desperandum!

CLAY PIGEON SHOOTING IN GREAT SHAPE
The well-attended annual general meeting of the Lincolnshire Clay Pigeon Shooting Association, held at Wragby recently, proved beyond doubt that the sport is in great shape in this county.

Chairman, Paul Zaitschenko gave a report and review of the year and it certainly seems that the Lincolnshire CPSA is making great strides in both competitions and memberships. This was endorsed by East Midlands CPSA director, Colin Butler who gave an account of how the sport is faring both regionally and nationally.

Even more enjoyed than the social side of the evening, and the buffet, were the trophies awarded to the Supreme Champions. Andy Harvey was crowned Overall Champion. Tracey Bridge was handed the Ladies Champion trophy. John Winn received the Veteran Champion’s trophy and Jack Wilkinson the trophy for Junior Champion. All were popular winners but Jack Wilkinson perhaps had the most pats on the back, as he is already shooting well above his age and is being tipped as a potential world champion and possible future Olympic gold medal winner.

GIVE IT A TRY
If you would like to try your hand at shooting there are three great opportunities this year. The Lincolnshire Countryside Sports Association in partnership with the Lincolnshire Active Community Network is presenting special ‘Have a Go Days’ at Riseholme Campus which is part of the University of Lincoln.

On Saturday, 12th May there is the Adult Introductory Shots Day for men and women aged 17 years plus. The day provides an opportunity to try:
• Air rifle
• Clay shooting
• Fly fishing and gun dogs
• Archery
• Hawking and ferreting

Individuals will take part in fifty-minute sessions of each activity. All equipment provided and the £45 fee includes a snack lunch. The event takes place from 10am to 3pm.

On Thursday, 12th July there will be the Ladies Shots Day which includes Ladies Training Day for women aged 17 years plus, organised by BASC. Women are invited to learn about:
• Clay shooting, with a qualified coach
• Guns and cartridges, gun fit, safety, master eye, stance, certificates and licences
• Etiquette and dress

You do not have to be a BASC member to take part. Again, the day lasts from 10am to 3pm with equipment supplied and the £68.50 fee includes a snack lunch.

Finally on Saturday, 22nd September the very popular Young Shots Day returns from 10am to 3.30pm. The Young Shots Introductory Shots Day is for children and young people aged 7-17 years.

For more details from 01522 585580.

WARM WELCOME AT HEMSWELL
Whether you are an experienced shooter or a first-timer, there is a guaranteed warm welcome at Hemswell Shooting Club which can easily be found at Hemswell Business Park, Hemswell Cliff, in the northern part of the county.

The club was founded in 1993 when an old RAF practice range was converted for civilian use. The club is licensed to shoot various types of firearms including full bore, small bore, black powder and air weapons.

Firearms can be shot in free- standing or prone disciplines and depending what you are looking to take part in you can shoot for pleasure or enter some of the various types of competition that are available.

Hemswell shooting club is a large club with some seventy plus members, the range is twenty-five-metres long and the range is accessible for shooting seven days a week, from approximately 8am to 8pm. The club is very safety conscious and any attendances for shooting must be made with at least one other full member of the club for safety purposes and the signing-in book requires that the two members countersign each other.

If you want to know more drop an email to secretary@hemswellsc.co.uk

With the worst of the winter hopefully now behind us, shooters will be beginning to think about keeping their eye in by clay shooting, and of course the more serious clay shooter will be out taking part in competitions. We also tend to find in spring that there are new shooters coming along looking to start the sport.

I often get asked what I can recommend as a starter over and under, and I usually go two ways on this. Either look for something like a Beretta or Browning (a good secondhand one, multi-choke would be priced between £800 to £1000), or the other option would be a Lanber or Bettinsoli for similar money in a new gun.

If the customer is not sure whether they will really take to the sport I recommend a good secondhand gun, as if re-sold a year or so later the shotgun would not suffer the big depreciation of re-selling a new gun.

When looking to buy that first gun, go for the looks of the gun and liking it. The second most important thing is that the gun fits, so that it shoots where the customer is looking. With new shooters their style could change quite quickly once they start shooting in earnest, so again I would recommend that if a gun is very close to a fit this should not be altered until they have had a month or six weeks’ practice with it before they return to a gunsmith to see if any fine tuning is required.

Most clay grounds offer a facility for trying a gun and all good gun shops would have someone on the premises who would be able to discuss the matter, as it is obviously quite a daunting task to pick your first gun. Then once the gun has been selected it is down to the shooter’s hand and eye co-ordination and practice.

Elderkin & Son (Gunmakers) Ltd, Spalding, Lincolnshire PE11 1TG, UK, Barbour Stockist, Tel: 01775 722919, Fax: 01775 760556, Open Saturday – Closed Thursday, Website: http://www.elderkinguns.co.uk, Email: william@elderkin.co.uk

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