Top Shot at Kibworth Shooting Ground

Here's something you don't see very often - not an airgunner using a bow - but a blue sky!

Here's something you don't see very often - not an airgunner using a bow - but a blue sky! - Credit: Archant

Gary Chillingworth visits Kibworth Shooting Ground to see who is the best across several target disciplines

Gary with his boom stick!

Gary with his boom stick! - Credit: Archant

Being a top shot with an airgun is what we all strive for, but to be a true marksman you can’t just master one type of discipline, you have to master them all.

This is where the idea of the Top Shot competition was born. Luckily, Kibworth shooting ground in Leicester is a true shooting venue. If you want to shoot an air rifle - no problem; air pistol -  no problem, shotgun, black powder, bow and arrow are all done there and if the rumours are true, even a throwing axe. No matter what you want to do, Kibworth can help.

It was decided that Top Shot should cover four main disciplines. The first was the easiest and most familiar with 15 shots of HFT, the second was pistol, which would be shot at HFT targets from 8 to 25 yards. The third discipline would be 10 shots with a shotgun and finally, a bow and arrow at 25 yards. Any person who could master all of these would certainly be a Top Shot.

Maid Mari-Anne with her bow

Maid Mari-Anne with her bow - Credit: Archant

Shotgun Start

My group started off on the shotgun section. Kibworth had laid on instructors for every event and we were given a full safety brief on each section. I’m not great with a shotgun because I’ve spent most of my shooting life aiming at stationary targets, and not 6” in front or below a clay travelling at speed, but this was the whole point of the competition; to take us out of our comfort zone and teach us new skills.

The first three clay targets were known as teal, this is where the clay flies directly up in the air and the trick is to wait for the clay to get to its highest point and then pull the trigger as the clay starts to drop. The next discipline was a clay flying directly from in front and away from you; all I can say about this is, blink and you will miss it. Finally, it was double clay; yes, that means two in the air at the same time, and this is just not fair.

Neil Price is not only good with the spanners, but is also a good pistol shot

Neil Price is not only good with the spanners, but is also a good pistol shot - Credit: Archant

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I love my airguns, but it’s also nice to shoot something that goes bang and gives you a good kick in the shoulder. However, I don’t think I will be heading for Rio in 2016 as a clay shooter, and this is mainly because I was really, really bad. In fact, all of the dedicated airgun shooters struggled with the shotgun. As I said earlier, we are used to aiming at stationary targets and not into thin air so learning this skill will take some time, but it is a skill that is well worth learning, and shooting a shottie, definitely brings a big smile to a shooter’s face.

The next discipline was the archery, which was six arrows at 25 yards, and I must admit that it was my favourite discipline of the day. There is something about shooting a bow that connects you with the past. As you stand there looking at the archery butt (this is the word for an archery target), you could almost be back at Agincourt, or in Sherwood Forest fighting the Sheriff of Nottingham. Back in the Dark Ages, practising with a bow used to be compulsory for all able-bodied men over the age of 14, and a part of me longs for similar times. You never hear of a regulator packing up on a longbow!

The archery was scored with your best six arrows from eight and a maximum of 30 points; I stepped up to the shooting line and let loose my arrows and scored a very respectable 28 ex 30, with four bulls and two outers.

Pistol Challenge

Next, it was on to the pistol. Kibworth had supplied some very nice pump-up Webley Alectos. These pistols are self-contained and are some of the best around. Like the shotgun, though, I probably would have been better off throwing the pistol at the target instead of shooting it. I used to shoot pistols years ago for London Underground (before the ban) and holding one in my hand again was a great feeling. However, it’s a skill that takes years to master and one that is very easy to lose and after 15 shots at the targets, it would be fair to say that I should hang my head in shame.

Luckily, our final event was the HFT and with my trusty FTP900. I managed to claw back a little bit of self-respect. As we came off of the course, I heard that Air Gunner’s Neil Price was in the lead with top score in the pistol and the shotgun, and great scores in the archery and the HFT. I was leading the archery and was very happy, but this feeling would not last for long.

I realised that there was so much more to shooting than just air rifles. Yes, an airgun is still my first love and I think the skill it takes to shoot a PCP or springer well is right up there with the top archers or shotgunners, but being a more rounded shooter is something that I feel I want to achieve.

Who Won?

Well, at the last minute, Neil was knocked-off the top of the tree and it was Air Gunner’s very own Anne Higgins, who took the title. Anne won the archery (beating me by a point, not that I’m bitter or anything) and she shot extremely well in all the other disciplines.

Anne showed us all that gender has no place in shooting and on the day, the best person won and in no way do I feel emasculated. Well done, Anne! You truly are a Top Shot.