2016 HFT Masters Series – Round 1 – Cambridge

April 10th saw Cambridge HFT Club hosting the first round of the 2016 HFT Masters Series, and with the weather gods playing nicely and providing bright, sunny conditions the assembled shooters were in high spirits and eager to get underway.

Having made its well-received debut in 2015, the Masters Series now seems poised to go from strength-to-strength, as evidenced by the number of entrants for Round 1, with over 115 shooters pitching up on the day. For some shooters, including my eldest Liam, this was their first taste of an HFT competition, and the course was set out with that in mind, with a nice mix of challenging shots (such as the 45 yarder set diagonally across a brook in a strong cross-wind, which I knocked down. Get in!), and some easier shots to keep newer shooters upbeat and enjoying the day. This is very much what the HFT Masters Series is all about, with its two-tier entry system giving new and average shooters the chance to win a trophy and enjoy their moment in the limelight alongside some of the sports top shooters on the day. This is a great formula that encourages people to come along and give HFT a try, enjoy themselves, and hopefully get the bug – and maybe further down the road in their shooting careers become one of those competing for the top prize in Tier 1. Another excellent incentive aimed at encouraging youngsters into the sport is that juniors shoot for free at every event, which is a great way to get young shooters into the sport.

HFT Master Series Round 1 Cambridge
A delighted Jess Ellis collects her trophy for first place in the Tier 2 Junior category
HFT Master Series Round 1 Cambridge
Tom Willingham’s going to need a bigger trophy shelf, given the rate at which he’s picking up wins

The course was by no means easy, and I don’t think anyone has ever cleared a course set by Ian Bainbridge – though the man himself did mention to me that he would dearly love this to happen at a Masters shoot. The course for the opening round had been set out in two wooded areas, and with the wind constantly changing during the first session it made the shots even tougher – as evidenced by the increasing amount of “peppering” on the plates of virtually every target as the session progressed. Normally, the splatter around a target’s kill zone can give some guidance as to by what degree previous shooters had misjudged the wind, but with the stiff breeze changing direction every few minutes it was of little assistance. Indeed, when combined with a bit of misreading the history on the plate, the flukey wind even managed to dish out a fair few doughnuts to some unlucky entrants.

HFT Master Series Round 1 Cambridge
Ian Bainbridge continued his reputation for laying out challenging courses at the HFT Masters rounds
HFT Master Series Round 1 Cambridge
2015 HFT World Champion Vince Holland took 3rd place in the Tier 1 Open Class
HFT Master Series Round 1 Cambridge
Lane 5 tripped quite a few people up – as you can see from the faceplate
HFT Master Series Round 1 Cambridge
How would you rate your chances of nailing this lollipop in windy conditions…

Liam really enjoyed his first ever competition and shot really well with his BSA Ultra SE, even managing to take the three unsupported standers that I only managed to plate – it’ll be a while before he lets me live that one down! I think with a little more practice he will become a really good shot, if only I can tear him away from his PlayStation more often (although he did try and claim that playing Call of Duty helped him shoot better).

HFT Master Series Round 1 Cambridge
BSA’s Goldstar is becoming the rifle of choice for a growing number of HFT competitors

At the end of the day, it came down to a long and tense 5 way shoot-off for the first place trophy in Tier 1 Open Class, which was finally won by Dan Measures, with Roger Lait in second, and 2015 HFT World Champion Vince Holland taking third slot. The Tier 2 Open Class was won by Matt Goodson.

HFT Master Series Round 1 Cambridge
Brigitte Vant enjoyed her day out at Cambridge. We’re lovin’ the stock, Mrs V!
HFT Master Series Round 1 Cambridge
And the award for best dressed dog on the HFT circuit goes to Molly!

Other winners were:

Juniors Tier 1 – Tom Willingham

Juniors Tier 2 – Jess Ellis

Veterans Tier 1 – Dave Welham

Veterans Tier 2 – Dave George

Recoiling Tier 1 – Kyle Hampton

Recoiling Tier 2 – Steve Hermitage

.22 Tier 1 – James Free

.22 Tier 2 – Matt Mousley

Ladies Tier 1 – Becky Rawlings

Ladies Tier 2 – Melenie Wakelin

Liam and I really enjoyed our first HFT Masters event, and we’ll be heading off to Round 2 at the first of 2 new venues for this year, The Northern Shooting Show in Harrogate on 7th-8th May 2016.

The dates of the other HFT Masters Series events this year are:

Cloybank, Scotland – 19 June

Greyhound, Longford, Coventry – 3 July

Emley Moor – 20 August

Lea Valley – 23 October