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Sportsmatch GC2: an engineering masterpiece

Robert Morgan relates the tale of airgun supremo Terry Doe, who had his American rivals firmly in his sights with an engineering masterpiece

Sportsmatch GC2

Sportsmatch GC2: an engineering masterpiece

Manufacturer: Sportsmatch

How old does something need to be considered historic? In some cases not very, as proved by the very special air rifle, the Sportsmatch GC2,  pictured here. Some readers who have been involved in the field target (FT) scene over the past 30 years may even recognise it, because this rifle won more than 200 trophies between the years 1989 to 1995. (Read our list of the best sporting air rifles.)

Affectionately known as ‘Jon-Jon’, this Sportsmatch GC2 was once the property of Terry Doe, a name that will be familiar to readers who have a passion for airguns. In the mid-to-late 1980s, Terry was quite a force on the developing British field target circuit, a fact that didn’t go unnoticed by John Ford of Sportsmatch. The latter’s company was producing probably the finest air rifle money could buy at the time, the GC2. He needed a bit of overseas promotion for his latest model and thought Terry was just the man to do it.

Sportsmatch GC2

Terry Doe won more than 200 trophies with the Sportsmatch GC2

Winner Sp0rtsmatch GC2

According to Terry, John rang him and told him he wanted Terry to take one of his rifles and “just go and win the 1989 US Field Target Championships” with it. And, if he did, it would help sell the GC2 and ease John’s mind over the amount of money he’d poured into it (transcript sanitised for the sake of these pages).

Terry agreed that he would try, and a short while later he was handed this rifle, serial no 190, by John. In fact, serial no 190 was the working prototype of what would later become the MKIII GC2. Terry then had his good friend John Welham design and make the special stock, and the rifle’s nickname comes from the ‘Jon’ of Ford and the ‘Jon’ of Welham.

Air Rifle

The air rifle is said to be a masterpiece of engineering

Nothing quite like the stock had been seen before, with built-in spirit levels and a cantilevered cheekpiece, coupled with the anatomical thumbhole design and adjustable palm support below the fore-end. Even so, Terry had very little time to practise with this masterpiece of engineering before he had to fly to Los Angeles to compete.

Terry found himself well and truly thrown in at the deep end and, although the Brits were the ‘founding fathers’ of FT shooting, the boys across the pond were highly competitive and catching up fast. Despite the UK being world leaders in custom air rifles, the Americans had embraced the world of FT, plus many had extensive experience in other shooting disciplines, and had been competing at high levels for years.

Stock GC2

There is adjustable palm support below the fore-end


Terry openly admitted that it was a huge ask to win so did, in his own words, “what any self-respecting Brit would do in the circumstances, and joined his fellow competitors for ‘extensive pre-tournament celebration’, the night before the match”. Terry concedes that his cause was assisted when one of his rivals was found comatose on the range the next morning, with vultures circling above … Terry’s considerable skill and the quality of the new model GC2 won the day. Terry returned to the UK with the US title and, as mentioned, went on to claim more than 200 trophies with this rifle, including the European Open Championships in 1994, and a World Championship winner’s team trophy in 1990.

In the years Terry campaigned with this GC2, his commitment to his sport and his training was total. He and his shooting friends turned up at so many events that they called themselves the Guns Of Never ’Ome, a play on the book and film title of The Guns of Navarone. Retiring from the FT scene in 1995, Terry couldn’t bear to simply hang up the GC2, so he sold it to another aspiring shooter.

Sportsmatch GC2

The stock of the GC2 features a cantilevered cheekpiece

Airguns became Terry’s life and he later became editor-in-chief of both the major dedicated airgun magazines published in the UK, Airgun World and Air Gunner. More recently he became something of an internet star, producing sporting videos and reviews for social media channels. He retired from the editorial role in July 2022, but remains active within the pages of Airgun World and on video for Shooting & Country TV.

Anyone who would like to own this significant slice of airgun history may be interested to know it is lot 25 in the upcoming Holts Auctioneers March sale.