James Simon reviews the British Schools and Young Shots Championship at Orston, which promises to be a highlight of the 2022 shooting calendar
If you would like to enter, and we think you should, then there’s still time but don’t put it off for much longer. For those planning to shoot with a school team, it is especially important to book ahead, even if you don’t yet have full details of all your team members. To enter, just follow the link and scroll down to the BSYS: https://competitionandeventsschedule.orston.com/
If you would like to find out more about Orston Shooting Ground then check out its socials or visit its website, orston.com
You can download the rules here: competitionandeventsschedule.orston.com/userfiles/event/info/2022BSYSRulesConditionsFINAL.pdf
Whether you’re aiming to add some silverware to your trophy cabinet, or just up for a thrilling day out, the British Schools and Young Shots Championship is a must-do. After a couple of false starts due to Covid, it’s now back in the shooting calendar, this time at Orston Shooting Ground in Nottinghamshire on Saturday 30 April.
Sponsored by BASC, and hosted in conjunction with Sporting Gun, the national championship for under-18s will see individuals, groups and school teams battle it out for prizes, glory and a shot at a promising future in the sport.
The championship has gained a solid reputation as a proving ground for young talent, with many past competitors, such as Alfie Tibbles, Ami Hedgecock, Ben Killian and Joshua Bennion, using it as a stepping stone to greater success. This year, talent spotters from British Shooting will be walking the course, looking for the shooting stars of tomorrow. So, if you want to be one of them, make sure you’re there.
That’s not all. The event’s High Gun will be commissioned to write a quarterly column in Sporting Gun, one of the best loved and most read shooting titles. You couldn’t wish for better exposure than that.
The final pot is to be confirmed but, if previous years are anything to go by there will be some terrific trophies and generous prizes to be won. Peter Wilson MBE, the Olympic gold medallist, who is no stranger himself to finding success at a young age, will be at Orston presenting the trophies.
“This is an amazing opportunity for young Shots,” says Matt Clark, editor of Sporting Gun. “There’s no other championship that offers this level of excitement, camaraderie and competition. Who knows, we might just see a future Olympian in the making.”
If you’ve never shot at Orston before then you’re in for a real treat. Tucked away in the stunning Vale of Belvoir, this 53-acre site, which is both a CPSA Premier Plus ground and Promatic Centre of Excellence, is one of the finest clay shooting venues in the UK. It is run by the husband and wife team of Dan and Emily Martin. They are used to organising national championships at Orston, as well as other prestigious competitions such as the Clay Shooting Classic.
“I’m so looking forward to opening up the gates on 30 April,” says Dan. “It’s always such a joy to see a new generation of clay Shots enjoying a competition of this calibre. Giving young people the opportunity to shoot with their peers, rather than with top Shots often twice their age, can be a real confidence booster for them.”
Orston is a beautiful, but relatively flat ground that is bordered along its southern edge by tall, dark conifers. A large lake sits in the north-west corner, just begging to be shot over. It’s always the site of some tricky but fun targets.
“This year the over-14s will be shooting a Red course, and the under-14s a Blue,” confirms Dan, “with both comprising 50 birds over seven stands. Paul Murgatroyd, our head groundsperson and I will be setting both courses, so that neither will be ridiculously challenging but Shots will still need to keep their wits about them.
“The fact that the ground is relatively flat really plays to our advantage,” says Dan. “With the help of some really excellent tech from Promatic, together with a small fleet of telehandlers, we can simulate almost any kind of environment that we like. Orston really is a blank canvas in that sense, one that’s just waiting for Paul and me to get creative. My tip is to look out for targets that use the topography to present false illusions of distance and speed.”
If this sounds a little intimidating, don’t worry. The British Schools and Young Shots Championship welcomes everybody, including novices. “Our primary aim, for both courses, is to make them enjoyable,” says Dan. “Paul, Emily and I genuinely want to see youngsters walk off the course, after shooting their 50 targets, with a broad grin on their faces, regardless of their scores. That’s the Orston way of doing things.
“Novices are welcome. We only ask that you’ve completed at least one lesson prior to your visit, because we cannot coach during a competition; it would be breaking the rules. You’ll also need to bring the required kit.”
If you’d like to practice before the Championship, Orston is currently running a half-price promotion for any under-18s entering its CPSA-registered ESP shoots. What better way to familiarise yourself with the ground? Similarly, this promotion will continue to run after the Championship, making it hard to resist returning to Orston.
Away from the heat of competition, there will be plenty to do, see and buy in Orston’s Trade Village. Dan and his team are still signing up exhibitors, but to give you a taste you will be able to see ammunition brands such as Lyalvale Express, gunmakers Longthorne and shooting organisations BASC, British Shooting and the CPSA.
All in all, a splendid day awaits the attendees, competitors and spectators alike.