SAFE & SECURE 6 cabinets that will keep your FEO happy on test
IN PARTNERSHIP WITH
BROWNING B725 PRO MASTER
GAME FAIR CHAMPION
We reveal the
most popular target loads
All the action from the clay line at Hatfield 2019 PLUS We visit idyllic Dovey Valley SG
WORLD FITASC Sam Green takes top spot at
Faulds wins thE Perazzi Grand Prix Can Skeet improve your Sporting?
the EJ Churchill extravaganza
CHOKE TUBE PERFECTION Behind the scenes at Teague Precision Chokes
ONES TO WATCH
A new series on up-and-coming talent
THE SIM GAME
It's a driven day, but with clays!
Meet World Champion Matt Coward-Holley
The Glorious Game Fair Clay Shooting magazine stands in awe at the spectacular shooting and attractions at the world’s biggest countryside event
he annual Game Fair is the big event for shooters in the UK. Billed as the world’s largest countryside show, it also boasts the most comprehensive outdoor shooting exhibition anywhere in the country, with a jam-packed schedule of events for all types of shooting including clay, rifle and airgun shooting as we all as have-a-go events, demonstrations and competitions – not to mention the massive Gunmakers’ Row packed with stands offering all the latest guns,
The Game Fair’s shooting line is known for being the longest in Europe
cartridges, clothing and accessories. Clay Shooting magazine was there, of course, sharing a stand with our sister titles Sporting Rifle, Airgun Shooter and Gun Trade News. Shooters’ needs were well catered for, with facilities ranging from secure gun storage to the popular Gunmakers’ Pub, as well as a food area with a huge variety on offer, from traditional fish and chips to venison and other game meat. The fair’s shooting line is a staple part of the show, and is famously the longest shooting line in Europe. Run by the world famous shooting ground and sporting
agency, EJ Churchill, and once again sponsored by Subaru, it features some of the most prestigious competitions of the year, with layouts designed by multi world and European clay shooting champion George Digweed MBE. Top of the bill is the Game Fair Challenge, with the chance to win a Subaru car for a year. Then there’s the CPSA’s Colts Challenge, showcasing the very best up-and-coming young shots, and the CPSA Champion of Champions, where the top Sporting shots from each county go headto-head to win the prestigious title.
Events The Game Fair clay line is not just for experienced shots, however. It’s also a chance for everyone to try their hand at clay shooting, many for the very first time. Some of our top shots fired a gun for the first time at a Game Fair, caught the bug and have gone on to achieve success in the sport. Both CPSA and BASC had a row of ‘have-a-go’ stands, staffed by their qualified coaches, who were kept busy throughout the three days of the fair. The centre stage of the Subaru Shooting Line was the Shooting Arena, with a packed schedule of shooting displays, masterclasses and nail-biting finals for all the main competitions, staged in front of a covered grandstand with seating for over 130 spectators – often filled to capacity over the three days, with spectators for the big finals spilling out along the ropes to either side. EJ Churchill head coach Sean Bramley provided regular masterclasses during the fair, as well as featuring in the popular ‘Little v Large’ double act with talented nine-year-old shot Lain Blamey, while George Digweed drew a large crowd with his interactive Q&A sessions.
Sean Bramley looks on as Lain Blamey shoots in the “Little v Large” showpiece
George Digweed MBE had set the targets and answered visitors’ questions in a Q&A session
The master at Work
Richard Atkins checks out the credentials of Browning’s newly launched B725 Pro Master target O/U Tech spec MAKE Browning Model Pro Master (hybrid trap / sporter) Action O/U Barrel Length 30” / (32” option) Gauge / chamber 12g / 2¾” (70 mm) steel proof Overall length 48” (inc. chokes) Pull length 14¾” (375mm) with 20mm butt pad Weight 8lb 8 oz (3.86kg) + balance weights SRP £4,109 UK Distributor BWM See www. browning.eu
rowning designers have been very busy over recent years, with a steady stream of new models reaching the market. Some, such as the XS Pro Sporter we reviewed last year, are based around the more established B525 action. Others, including the recently developed Pro Master, are built around the lower profile action of the B725, which has already proven itself to be a strong, robust and user-friendly action that retains the essential features of its famous ancestor, the B25. The B725 Pro Master has been designed and developed to provide a single gun that can be easily adapted to suit Trap or Sporting disciplines. Those purists who naturally prefer to have a separate gun for each discipline are already well catered for in both B525 and B725 format. For the rest of us, what does this versatile over-and-under offer?
A feature common to all guns in Browning’s Pro series is the Pro Balance System. This allows the gun’s balance to be adjusted to suit the individual shooter’s preference; it can be brought in front of the hinge pin to achieve a barrel-heavy feel, located precisely on the hinge pin to give a neutral feel, or tipped rearwards. To increase forward weight two tungsten weights are used. These are precisely profiled to fit snugly into the valley between the two barrels, with two special screws passing through the slots in the ventilated side ribs
Richard Atkins has decades of experience testing guns, cartridges and accessories, and is our expert on all aspects of ballistics, shotgun performance and technical analysis
to join and clamp the weights into place. They can be positioned out of view under the fore-end or further forward depending on the balance desired. A second set of six 20-gram weights is available to be fitted inside the stock by first removing the butt pad. These are retained on a stainless steel threaded rod with a mounting plate at its end, which enables the weighted rod to be bolted securely inside the stock and eliminates any distracting movement. Adding any combination of weights will, of course, increase the overall weight of the gun, as well as altering the weight’s distribution and therefore modifying the gun’s handling. When weight is increased further away from the central ‘between the hands’ area then the moment of inertia is altered. This can make the gun feel a little less lively. While Trap shooters tend to prefer the steadier handling characteristics of such a set-up, Sporting shooters often like a more responsive feel. With the Pro Balance System owners can experiment and fine tune the handling characteristics to suit themselves and the discipline they intend to use the Pro Master for. Another feature of the Pro series guns is the excellent Browning adjustable comb, which allows comb height and cast to be easily customised. The comb itself is quite broad and deep, making it comfortable for the shooter’s cheek to rest upon and effective in enabling a good fit to be achieved. It’s mounted using two steel pillars that fit into clamps within the stock. Height is set with metal spacers,
“With the Pro Balance System owners can experiment and fine tune the handling characteristics”
which make for a secure and repeatable system. The clamps also move laterally to achieve the desired cast. These adjustments are achieved by inserting the supplied hex key into a locking screw within the stock, via a hole in the top of the butt pad. This makes for a neat and secure arrangement without the need for any screw holes in the side of the stock.
Browning’s Master stroke
The additional feature that sets the Pro Master apart from the rest of the Pro series is its adjustable top rib. This is a beautifully crafted high rib machined from high strength aluminium alloy. The top sighting plane is tapered from 11.5 mm at the breech to 8.5mm at the muzzle, and it has an anti-glare, cross-milled top surface. This rib is connected to the battue-style barrel ramp via a sturdy metal pin at the breech. This provides a pivot point from which the rib can be raised and lowered by means of a thumb-wheel at the muzzle. A centrally positioned guide provides support, keeps the rib straight and prevents vibration. The rib is easy to adjust; undoing a lock screw allows the thumb-wheel to rotate. There are graduation lines on the front mounting post that provide a useful reference when adjusting and re-setting the rib from one mode to another.
The key question with this rib arrangement is whether it achieves the desired effect. I therefore checked to see how much it could be used to affect the gun’s point of impact (PoI). To check the extremes I first screwed the rib fully upward (note that you would expect this to lower the PoI) and then repeated the exercise with the rib screwed fully down. I checked both top and bottom barrels this way and was pleased to note that the results showed both barrels printing their patterns very close to the same point.
Above LEFT Weights in the stock fit securely, without any detectable vibration Above right Browning’s tungsten barrel weights make it easy to bring the gun’s centre of gravity forward from the hinge pin
The adjustable rib terminates in Browning’s distinctive fibre optic light pipe
Shooters to Watch Welcome to a new series on shooters who are starting to make their mark. This month, two young shots from Scotland, by Murray Thomson
hys picked up his passion for shooting from his father Richard, who is an avid pigeon and game shot. Richard spotted the talent in his son at a young age when Rhys was knocking pigeons out of the air with a .410 with little apparent effort. Richard began slowly introducing the burgeoning young shot to clays with visits to his local club, Auchterhouse near Dundee, and to events such as the Scottish Game Fair at Scone Palace, Perth. Rhys was soon pulling in podium finishes that not only a junior shooter would be proud of, but also many of the seniors. Rhys used his faithful semi-auto for his early Skeet and Sporting competitions,
but in the last 12 months he has started shooting a 12-bore Miroku Mk38 Sporter, which he was delighted to receive as part of a sponsorship program offered to him by the Christie family, who run Auchterhouse Country Sports. Rhys only really started competitive shooting in 2017/18, but his steadily improving scores are already impressive, and he has been exposed to several major circuit stops that many would find intimidating. In July 2018 he won the Junior category in several shoots, including the Scottish Game Fair, Scottish Schools Championship and the All Round at his home ground. In 2019 his itinerary has really been burning the tyres off of the family car, and he has placed third in the Colts at the Essex Masters and fourth at the British Schools Championship at Atkin Grant &
Lang, before topping off his run of form with a podium finish in Fitasc and Sportrap at the Clay Shooting Classic. Since then he also won overall High Gun at the Highland Shooting Centre at their two-day Fitasc and Sporting event. Rhys’s father, Richard, is a man of few words, but he comments: “I’m very proud of how Rhys is progressing in the sport, but I’m also grateful for the way in which he has been accepted and encouraged by those already well established on the circuit. Our goal for this year is for him to make the national team. There is no doubt that he still has lots to learn, but he is determined to do so. We will do as many of the major competitions as we can this year, and the hope is that the experience of the new grounds and variation of targets will help him to progress.” Emma Christie of Auchterhouse Country Sports says: “Auchterhouse Country Sports are proud to have sponsored Rhys since summer 2018. He is a credit to his parents, conducts himself well when shooting, and is an up-andcoming talent to watch. He is such a likeable lad who greets everyone with a smile. Drew [Christie] has recognised his ability and attitude, and is happy to take him under his wing. If he continues the way he has performed this year, he will definitely be a force to be reckoned with. When you see the name Rhys Harrison, remember he started his career at Auchterhouse. We will all look back with pride.”
Struan Brodie Struan, now 25, grew up in the Borders with his parents, Izzy and Jim Brodie, who nurtured his early signs of talent with a gun in his hand. At 11 years old, he started shooting in local and national competitions with a Browning 525, and soon showed strong promise as a serious competitor. His main love was Sporting targets, and he also competed in ABT, DTL and Double Rise in Northumberland, winning lots of silverware along the way. Throughout the years he trained at the original Braidwood Sporting Clays near Selkirk in the Scottish Borders, owned and operated by Joyce and Jim Black, which subsequently became Bisley at Braidwood when purchased by the Roupell family of Bisley in Surrey. Struan spent every spare moment he had on mastering his game and technique at his home ground. Having represented Scotland as a Junior, in 2017 he became the Senior Scottish Sportrap champion at Ardlethen Quarry, and in the same year won the Scottish Fitasc Championship at Drummond Estate. He also made the British Fitasc team alongside the likes of Matt Hance, Jonathan Kendall and Mark Stevenson. Recently, Struan has focused his efforts on European competitions. In the last 12 months he missed out on a bronze medal at the Hungarian GP by just a single target, shot a 192 ex-200 at the European Compak in Greece, and almost pulled a top 20 finish at the European Fitasc, beating many of the best known shooters of today. Many shooters of Struan’s calibre need time away from shooting for downtime, but Struan is a professional deer stalker for the Forestry Commission, so a gun is never out of his hands for long. In fact, he says that his downtime comes from practising at Bisley at Braidwood with his friends and family. He is sponsored by the ground, and
says that he owes much of his success to the help and support of the director, Ian Braithwaite, and staff, who go the extra mile to support him – for instance, by setting up specific targets that he wants to practise on. In addition to his sponsorship by Bisley, Struan has joined Team Gamebore – stuffing his beloved Perazzi High Tech with White Gold 8s, a combination that clearly works for him. Struan comments: “A big event win is an absolute dream for me, but part of my journey is experiencing as much as I can along the way. The European Fitasc was
the most incredible shoot I have seen, from the topography of the ground, the outstanding level of competition and also the world class target presentations. I learned a lot from it and finished strongly, and I’m looking forward to tackling more of that sort of event in the future. Bisley at Braidwood’s Ian Braithwaite says: “We are extremely proud to have Struan as one of our sponsored shots, and are fully behind him in his ambitions for the future. He is an outstanding ambassador for us and the sport as a whole, and we look forward to helping him achieve whatever the future may hold for him”.
Anita North won silver and gold in Women’s Trap at the Commonwealth Games in 2002 and 2010. She is now a British Shooting GB Talent Programme coach.
On Top of the World Senior Men’s winner Mike Wixey receives his prize. Matthew CowardHolley (left) won the silver
GB star Matt Coward-Holley is riding high on his recent successes. Anita North asks him how he does it
t’s been a busy summer for British shooters on the international scene, especially Matthew Coward-Holley, who has been run off his feet competing and making history. Matt became the third British shooter (and only the second clay shooter) to secure a place for Great Britain at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Matthew won a quota place when he took the silver medal at the World Cup in Changwon, Korea in May of this year. But that’s not all; not by any shot. Matt followed up on his success by becoming Britain’s first world champion in Olympic Trap. To put that into context, records going back to 1929 tell us that only one other British shooter has medalled in Olympic Trap at the World Championships – Ed Ling won silver in 2014 and 2017. Trust me, it takes a lot of work to marshal the supremely disciplined performance needed to medal in any Olympic Trap event, let alone win at the World Championships, which are
ABOVE Matt shows off his hard-earned gold medal
especially daunting given that they are held at the home of Olympic Trap, Trap Concaverde (known as Lonato) in Italy. I caught up with Matt to pose him a few questions about his recent success and his shooting career to date. How did it feel to become world champion? To win the World Championship is the pinnacle of my career so far. It is by far the biggest competition you can shoot without heading to the Olympic Games itself. What was going through your head during the competition and then going into the final? I have been shooting very well all year, and I have been building with every world cup towards the World Championships. This was always the shoot that I had targeted from the beginning of the year. Going into the final I was very relaxed. Actually, whenever I make finals I try to relax and enjoy them.
That was not your only success this year. You won a quota in May when you won World Cup silver in Changwon, Korea. How did that medal feel? Winning the quota in Korea was again the culmination of a lot of hard work at previous competitions. In the World Championships in Korea last year, shooting 121 and finishing just outside the final was a massive achievement for me. It definitely gave me a confidence boost moving into the 2019 season. At the World Cup in Mexico I shot 123 and made the shoot-off, but unfortunately missed out on the final. However, I did medal in the mixed pairs with Kirsty [Hegarty, née Barr]. Then at the World Cup in Al Ain, I shot 122 and again made a shoot-off for the final, but missed out on the final. Then to shoot 124 in Korea was a massive step, and to go into the final in first place with no shoot-off was amazing. At what point did you realise you had won a quota place? When I’m in finals, I tend to know exactly
MIXING IT UP
Formerly an avowed Sporting shot, Ben Cartwright decides it’s time to discover what Trap and Skeet have to offer
keet. It’s an odd word don’t you think? It appears to have its roots in the Old Norse word ‘Skjota’, meaning ‘to shoot’. More recently, it aligns with the Norwegian word ‘skyte’, which when pronounced sounds like ‘shoot’. Further research uncovers that in Canada, ‘skeet’ is a slang word roughly synonymous with the epithet ‘chav’. Who knew? Like many others, I cut my teeth on English Sporting layouts. It’s an ideal format because the targets can be varied greatly, from put-a-smile-on-your-face easy, to world championship difficult. Some two years on, I started to think it would be interesting to try my hand at some of the other disciplines. Maybe I would find out that I had a particular aptitude or liking for one of them? Skeet was the only format I had some prior knowledge of. Early on, I came across
YouTube videos of Vincent Hancock, Kim Rhode and Amber Hill. I was, and remain, amazed at how these athletes can mount a gun and hit two crossing clays in just over two seconds. Several people recommended I try Skeet as a way to help me improve my proficiency at English Sporting. The target presentations and format are more closely related to ESP than many of the Trap disciplines. There is another school of thought, espoused by the likes of Ben Husthwaite, that if you want to excel at English Sporting, then you need to train and practie just English Sporting. I can see merit in both arguments. Personally, I like to mix things up, try new experiences and see where they lead. I made a phone call to someone I thought would be able to help. John Timmis is a shooting instructor, who, when he’s not with private clients, runs the thriving 3 Lakes Gun Club on the border between
Ben Cartwright shot rifles in his youth, but only recently took up clays. He has since immersed himself in the sport. We follow his journey as he strives to improve
Warwickshire and Worcestershire. I’d first met John when I started shooting at Honesberie and was immediately impressed by his wealth of experience and enthusiastic teaching style. Coupled with his encyclopedic knowledge of local shooting grounds, I thought he would be the ideal person to introduce me to a new discipline. He didn’t disappoint. We arranged to meet at Edgehill Shooting Ground, a mile or so from the eponymous English civil war battleground of 1642. On a beautiful summer’s day, I drove out to this little gem of a ground, to be schooled in the art not only of Skeet, but also of Down the Line and Compak. As I drove down the track, I immediately noticed a sprawling array of 4x4s, some in camouflage paint, with what looked like rocket launchers on the back of them. I came to an abrupt halt and was about to reverse back up the hill when I realised the vehicles had clay traps mounted on them.
Despite its emphasis on tricky rising targets, Ben found DTL to be an immediately intriguing discipline
It’s a humorous approach to target setting that is both creative and practical. As John and I were chatting over a cup of tea, we were joined by the owner, Tim Spencer. He filled me in on some of the ground’s history. It has been host to many of the sport’s high achievers over the years. Richard Faulds trained there prior to winning the gold medal for Double Trap at the 2000 Olympics. Amber Hill and Daryl Burton are visitors, and local shooters Arnie Palmer and Carl Bloxham pitch up from time to time with clients. Tea finished, we headed off to the Skeet range – English Skeet to be precise. This meant I could pre-mount my gun, unlike in Olympic Skeet. John talked me through the format. There was a lot to take in! Fortunately, the first round we did as a walk and talk. John explained the importance of foot positioning and setting up correctly for the pairs. Without his guidance I would never have known that the optimal foot position is to face the low house trap for stations 1-6. The second round was more fluid and I scored 20/25. I wasn’t aiming for a good score per se. I was more interested in enjoying a new learning experience. As much as I love ESP, I can see myself putting in some practice and trying my hand at a Skeet competition sometime soon. We moved on to the Down The Line layout, which is based around my nemesis targets: rising clays thrown at different angles. I’ve recently been struggling with springing teals but some professional advice on how to tackle them has helped
Station 7 offers an incomer from the high house and a low going-away target
Early success on stand one was a confidence booster, but there were tougher targets to come
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