The 2019 F-Class European Championship Team Events
The team shooting events at the European Championships seem to have come-of-age, this year was the most keenly contested, yet most enjoyable matches we can recall since the event began.
Team shooting adds a whole new dimension to our sport, which is normally regarded and indeed practiced as an individual sport. The new emphasis on smaller 4 shooter teams seems to have tapped into a new rich vein of enthusiasm for team shooting.
It was a joy to see how many shooters had embraced the opportunity to band together and take on other like-minded groups.
It must be said that many of the new teams really put a great deal of emphasis on looking the part, it was evident that many teams had spent considerable time and money on designing distinctive team kit; from simple yet striking T-shirts in bright yellow from the “Norfolk Mafia”, through the stylish, tasteful and co-ordinated “White Horse” to the high quality, artful and mischievously named “Bull Hitters”. These were all new to the scene, our Italian friends however have always displayed that effortless style that seems to come so naturally to them and their distinctive teamwear, most notably “BCM” and “Victrix”. It all helps to promote team identity and strengthen bonds of loyalty and friendship.
The teams events on the Thursday afternoon are referred to as the “minor” teams, I think we should look again at this somewhat dismissive title, it does not give the right amount of respect that the teams deserve and now that we have an uniform format of 8 member teams, the distinction is no longer valid – if ever it was.
The time and effort that the team members put into their teams is no less deserving than any other, so I would suggest we rename the “minor” teams to something more fitting – the Committee will be open to your suggestions, I’m sure.
We had a bumper crop of teams and it was great to see nearly the whole width of Stickledown being taken up with 15 F/TR and 11 F/O teams, more than we’ve ever had before.
The weather was bright warm and dry and the most important factor, the wind was pretty light, requiring perhaps just 2 minutes at most on an F/O rifle. If it was that easy however, there would be no contest, the wind was twitchy; sometimes picking up and alternately ebbing away. It was the unenviable task of the Coaches to keep track of these changes and react accordingly.
The greater preponderance of teams was on the F/TR side fifteen in fact, thereby creating the keenest competition for the three medals up for grabs.
The winner of the F/TR “Minor” teams match was the White Horse Lodge team with a super score of 344.16.
The newest club at Bisley; the White Horse Lodge has come a very long way in an incredibly short time; since taking over the old English Twenty club last year, this group of enthusiastic and talented shooters have made a big impression.
In second place came Team Ukraine with 342.18, our old friends from the Ukraine are seriously good shooters who take a very professional approach to everything they do, consequently they are usually at, or very near the top of every event.
Third place went to another relatively new group; Team MXM, this group of friends have a very professional outlook when it comes to team training and team sponsorship, the results speak for themselves, given their rapid success.
1. WHITE HORSE LODGE 344.16
2. UKRAINE 342.18
3. TEAM MXM 341.12
Meanwhile, on the F/O side, we had 11 teams competing for glory; a mixture of National groups and more informal alliances of friends and corporate teams.
One set of team members stood out all week, mainly due to their quality teamwear emblazoned with their mischievously inventive name; the “Bull Hitters”. Their confidence was very well founded and they took the trophy with a grand total of 366.15 comfortably 6 points ahead of the second-placed team.
Team Dolphin comprised a mixture of very new and some veteran shooters under the expert guidance of coach Martin Townsend who set a blistering pace of shooting to minimise exposure to wind changes, this tactic very nearly worked and a little luck is always needed to succeed with any plan.
Team Kazakhstan returned to Bisley in strength this year after an initial foray last year, they clearly have a significant breadth and depth of talent in Kazakhstan, one can only guess that it may be a very windy place which benefits their shooters.
1. BULL HITTERS 366.15
2. DOLPHIN 360.20
3. KAZAKHSTAN 358.18
Thursday was a highly enjoyable day of friendly rivalry; it was a good trial run too and many teams would have reflected on their performance and what they needed to do to prevail over their peers on the following Sunday morning.
We awoke to a rather overcast, cold and damp Sunday morning, it was at least dry though it remained stubbornly cold even until late morning, this was due in part to the wind; it appeared to be coming from a Northerly direction. Mercifully though, it was at first very gentle indeed and it seemed to encourage and reward those who lost no time in making best use of the gentle condition; others who waited and watched, perhaps hoping for something better, were left disappointed as they seemed to encounter more volatile changes later in their allocated 90 minutes.
The main difference between the Sunday and Thursday matches is in the format;
Sunday consists of both National and Rutland teams and is contested over two distances; 900 and 1,000. We had even more even more teams on Stickledown, very near filling it completely; 16 F/TR and 12 F/O.
On the F/TR National teams’ side, we had a very emphatic victor; GB RED romped home to a clear victory by a very substantial margin of 15 points; 570.45. This must be a very encouraging outcome indeed for the new squad and the team management.
Team Ukraine took second – again, their second silver team medal, which if nothing else shows great consistency and is a great achievement against teams with a home advantage.
GB Blue showed solid consistency between 900 and 1,000, dropping just 10 points to secure the bronze medal with 548.31, some way behind their colleagues in GB Red, that may give some food for thought for the team management.
1. GREAT BRITAIN RED 570.45
2. UKRAINE 555.34
3. GREAT BRITAIN BLUE 548.31
Turning to the Rutland Teams now, well what can one say about the winners?
Team White Horse Lodge galloped home by a furlong – again! This is a remarkable achievement for a team to win both of the trophies open to them on their very first attempt and by a good margin, in fact their score of 565.42 was second only to the GB Red National team, this is a high quality team who mean business.
In second place we had the aptly named, V-Hunters who are always easily distinguishable in their verdant green kit. This group of enthusiastic and talented friends are always a significant force to be reckoned with and given the experience and skills of the team members, they will most likely go from strength to strength.
In third place came our familiar friends from Italy; BCM 1, they are always very easy to recognise by their corporate team kit, liveried vehicles and tented encampment on the range, they display and excellent esprit de corps and are always a team to be reckoned with.
1. WHITE HORSE LODGE 565.42
2. V HUNTERS 560.31
3. BCM 1 558.36
Our Italian friends have been coming to Bisley for several years now and in very substantial numbers, they have had numerous successes to report in their individual shooting events, but until now, team success had evaded them. No longer! Team Italy have concentrated their talent and skills into building a very strong team and it has brought them the rich rewards they deserve; they won the National Teams trophy with a superb score of 581.49 and by a significant margin over their nearest rivals.
It has been a long time since Team BDMP have mounted a serious challenge to the GB team, but things have changed now, the BDMP are resurgent, they have a new cadre of shooters who have considerable breadth and depth of talent and it shows, their v-count was the highest of the day.
Team GB Red were relegated to Bronze position, quite possibly the first time that has ever happened, in mitigation though, the squad is only newly-formed and have not yet had many opportunities to practice together, so from this humble start, things can and will, only get better.
1. ITALY A 581.49
2. BDMP 1 572.50
3. GB RED 570.43
Just as the White Horse team have cleaned up on the F/TR side, the Bull Hitters were determined not to lose out and they certainly have made their mark – the won the Rutland teams event and in the same emphatic manner that they won the Minor teams match. This is clearly a team comprised of very talented shooters and they’re a very good-humoured bunch as well.
Second place was won by another new team, the intriguingly named “Le Chamois”, a grouping of our Continental friends who sported distinctive team kit with their mountain goat emblem. For a new team away from their home ground they did well.
Third place was won by the enigmatically named “Team Tiney”, I confess to not knowing the origins of their name, but I suspect it may be a play on words given the size of at least two of their members – who are anything but Tiny. No matter what, it is clear they don’t take themselves too seriously, and put the emphasis correctly on shooting well and having fun in the process.
1. BULL HITTERS 572.35
2. LE CHAMOIS 565.31
3. TEAM TINEY 555.24
The prize giving ceremony on Sunday was an occasion for all the teams to assemble to receive the acclamation of their peers and give due credit to the worthy winners. It was great to see the clear pride and pleasure that assembling as a team gave so many shooters. Shooting is so often an individual activity that the social side of team shooting is overshadowed until occasions such as the European Championships when it is all put into proper perspective.
The friendly, good-natured rivalry of teams all brought together with the common aim of shooting to the best of their ability brings out the best in us and helps to drive standards onwards and upwards. That enthusiastic and friendly rivalry is exactly what we had hoped to see when the format was changed to the smaller, 8-man team size. We are gratified to see how popular this has turned out to be and hope the process continues to increase competitiveness while still being accessible to many more shooters.
There was still some space, albeit very little left on Stickledown range, so if you now feel inspired to form your own team, why not give it some thought and bring your own group of friends next year? Teams can be up to 8 members – or as few as 4, though that requires quite a bit of multi-tasking! You don’t have to have specially made team kit, but it certainly helps to bond the team together and perhaps you can find a sponsor to help defray the costs.
Let’s see if we can completely fill Stickledown range next year – see you there.