Sunday 15 May saw Swallows Field Target Club hosting the first of two visits that this extremely popular summer series at their grounds just to the East of Brighton.
In addition to the regular 5 Sussex HFT clubs, Iden Ferns, Maldon (M.A.D.), and Meon Valley (M.V.A.C.) had also been invited to compete this year as Guest Teams, though M.A.D. had pretty much been conspicuous by their almost complete absence from the previous two rounds. Round 1 at Ford had clashed with the first shoot of the HFT Masters Series at Cambridge (just a few miles up the road from Maldon and so only a small M.A.D. contingent made it down south that day, and Round 2 at Mile Oak was held on the same day as Maldon had held their UKAHFT “qualifying” home shoot – essential for those wanting to compete in the National Series just a few weeks later. Accordingly in terms of the SIHFT club league table, the first two rounds had been a pretty close run thing between Mile Oak, Buxted and MVAC – all that was about to change…
Swallows FTC boasts what must be one of the prettiest and most varied grounds on the South Coast, and for Round 3 the course had been set out around the fishing lakes and the open field area. Shooting across water was a bit of a novelty for some of the 75 shooters who entered, with several realising that their usual range-finding techniques were of little use over the wet stuff.
The “Maldon Massive” turned out in force, fielding no less than 13 shooters, and ended the day by taking 4 of the top 5 slots in the Open Class – Gary Chillingworth returning to form with an almost perfect score of 59, matched by 2015 World HFT Champion Vince Holland, and Jill Cochran and Colin “Tugg” Wilson both running them close on 58 apiece. When Ian Clark’s score of 56 was factored in, it meant that M.A.D. were the top points-scoring club on the day with a mightily impressive total of 290 points, followed by Mile Oak on 282, and MVAC in third place with 273 – just eclipsing Buxted by a solitary point. One thing for sure is that if M.A.D. continue to put in performances like that, the SIHFT Club Trophy might just be heading north of the Dartford Crossing this year. One can only imagine the size of the smile on Richard Woods’ face if they were to pull that off, especially as The Oaks have held onto it every year since 2011!
The SIHFT Series, whilst being very competitive, is always hugely enjoyable, and the general consensus was that the guys at Swallows had pretty much struck the perfect balance in setting out a course that gave the opportunity for some very high scores but at the same time not quite allowing a clear round. It was also very pleasing to see some names at the top of the score sheets that are well-known on the HFT circuit but don’t always make it “onto the podium” – and that’s one of the many attractions of our sport, namely that anyone who is on form on the day can be up there with the very best of them.
A full list of results can be found HERE, and the next round is at Horsham on Sunday June 5th, followed by Round 5 at Buxted on Sunday June 19th.