Thomas Bristow checks out Lincs Hunter FT Club where the course-setters have been working very hard to test his skills to the limit.
With the restrictions imposed by the Covid 19 pandemic finally being eased, I decided that some much-needed HFT practice was due before the competitions started to get back up and running again. Where to go? Well, a stone’s throw away from Lincoln city centre, hidden beside a country lane, lies Lincs Hunter FT Club – the place of choice for my latest shooting venture.
Originally founded in the early 2000s, the club continues to provide hours of enjoyment for those who attend each week. It’s been a mainstay for local shooters for years, with some of the original members continuing to show their loyalty. Some members even travel from Leicester every other Sunday to take part in the sport they love and share the infectious banter with the other shooters who attend.
Although small, Lincoln boasts a variety of ranges, allowing visitors to make the most of their journey. A covered 40-yard range caters for those who intend to plink and chip the paint off the plethora of targets available to shoot, whether that may be knockdown targets, novelty targets or spinners, whilst “ceasefires” enable the paper-punchers to place their targets out as far as that range allows.
For those who dip their toes into the water of HFT, a UKAHFT-spec course comprising 30 well-placed targets in various scenarios tests the skills of those who attend. Lincoln have been involved in many larger HFT leagues, as well as holding competitions with great success. The staff have garnered a reputation for tough courses, making use of natural greenery and the landscape to mislead even the most experienced shooters.
After signing in I was ready to conquer whatever course had been set out. A brief zero session confirmed my aim points, which I had figured out the day before. Despite the weather forecast predicting high winds and showers, we were unexpectedly greeted with quite the opposite.
A light breeze and cloudless skies boosted our expectations, something I would learn to regret. Feeling confident, I got down to take the first shot of the day. The target abruptly falling over was a welcome sight, perfect pellet placement dropping the 15mm target which I had estimated was at 27 yards.
But as I continued round the course it became clear that none of the targets would be as easy as my first. A large number of the targets were placed at alternating distances, testing our rangefinding skills, which unfortunately caused me to drop a few points.
This is one of the many techniques the course-setters use to try to catch you out. In addition to this, the infamous wind that the club is renowned for was steadily picking up. Positioned at probably the highest point in Lincoln, it’s not unusual for shooters to be overcome by the challenging winds. I for one struggle to estimate how big of an impact wind has on your pellet – something I aimed to develop whilst shooting the course.
On the next section of the course I was presented with three targets a fair distance away, one of which was an unsupported stander. Even before touching the trigger I thought out the shot, and with distance and wind accounted for I slowly pinched off the shot. Slap!
A pellet mark on the face late, due to an unsteady heart rate and rushed technique, meant I only scored one point on this one. I estimated the next few targets to be between 38 and 45 yards away, although the wind seemed to be a little less as I had now moved position and these targets were in a fairly sheltered area. Luckily my assumptions were correct and after watching both targets drop I’d managed to regain my confidence.
Those of you who shoot HFT will know that the course-setters do everything within their power to ensure you don’t manage to clear the course. Placing targets in tricky positions, partially covering the killzone, using range traps and making you lay in awkward positions are amongst the many techniques that course-setters use to ensure you don’t achieve the perfect 60/60 we all aim for – not including the challenge of battling the unpredictable British weather.
I was already four points down at this point, but still wanted to try to beat my personal best. The next target was a close one, but positioned high up in a tree. Fortunately, I knocked this one down, adding an additional two points to my score card. As we approached the final stretch of the course a positional shot was in sight, this time a supported kneeler that looked to be a fair distance away.
With a comfortable kneeling position and firm grip of the nearby tree I took the shot. With a gentle squeeze of the trigger the target fell – leaving me on a respectable 50/60 at the end of the course.
Afterwards, I spoke to some of the members and reflected on the day. Considering the challenging winds and course that had been set out I was fairly happy with my result, but like always it’s important to look back and see how you can improve next time.
On this occasion, a mixture of cant, wind and mis-ranging the target got me in the end, although it seemed some of the other members shooting the course were doing exceptionally well.
As I have mentioned in one of my previous articles, the HFT scene is full of amazing, friendly people. I have been a member of Lincs Hunter FT Club for a little over a year now and they have all made me feel very welcome and part of the HFT family. There is always a great welcome at Lincs and the club goes all out to try to give shooters an interesting and testing HFT course.
I’d like to thank the small team of staff who help to run these amazing places. Without them this wonderful sport wouldn’t exist. This is why I believe it’s courteous to show your gratitude at the end of each shoot by doing simple things like offering to help set out or clear away a course.
This is a huge help to the club, and it also allows you to get a small insight into some of the many techniques course-setters use to create an enjoyable and challenging shoot – which can be a useful tool to use at future shoots.