It’s tough at Turton

Andy McLachlan walks us through Rounds 3 and 4 of the UKAHFT series, with the wind proving to be as much of a challenge as the course

Popular HFT shot mick Fearn lines up his Anschutz on a target at Turton on the West Pennine Moors

Having shot an awful lot at the Rivington Riflemen’s outdoor range at Turton Towers on the West Pennine Moors for many years, it comes as no surprise to hear that conditions upon both shooting days proved once again to be very challenging to say the least!

In combination with the usual high standard of course layout provided by some of the most experienced course setters in the country, the tricky Turton breeze was in one of its ‘which way should I blow this particular second’ moods.

I understand many other UK HFT grounds can be very exposed to the wind and its wayward tendencies, but Turton really does take the biscuit for fooling most people, a lot of the time.

The undulating landscape, exposed hillside location and lots of trees, ditches and old stone walls really do play havoc with the keen target shooter.

They’ve just decided where to place their crosshairs when the target reset cord does its Turton trick of often deflecting two different ways as the shooter tries to make up their mind which way will have the most effect on any windage calculation.

Having fallen into this strange trap on many occasion myself, I have discovered that a shot not allowing for any wind and going for a ‘poker’ straight into the centre of the target’s killzone will sometimes result in success, but usually not, as your pellet makes its way into what can be a very surprising location on the faceplate! 

Still, the ability to successfully establish just how the wind will affect any individual shot is what allows the top shooters to enjoy their success, and it is a considerable skill to possess.

At least it wasn’t raining as the competitors approached their starting peg positions, with the sun providing some welcome warmth in the beautiful moorland setting on both days.

A supported standing positional shot may be quite stable, but shooters still need to be able to range-find and make allowances for the wind

Top shot on day one was Elliot Compton, who is clearly enjoying a run of excellent results with a total of three one hundred percent scores from the four national shoots so far this year. Let us all remember that this league is the premier HFT event within the UK, with all the top shots vying for position at the top of the UKAHFT tree on a yearly basis.

It is not a league in which you notice new shooters quickly making a name for themselves, as the standards are always so very high, with results coming to those who are very serious with their practising and having the most experience always gaining the honours.

Elliot is a shooter who has managed to gain a tremendous amount of experience over the past decade or so, and can be found shooting HFT competitions all around the UK most weekends. Experience helps!

My fellow Rivington member and friend Darren ‘Daz’ Taylor achieved second place, followed by third-placed travelling Scot James Hesson.  

On the second day, the wind proved to be even more difficult to assess than the first. As I have previously mentioned, this force of nature doesn’t like to play by the rules, with individual gusts appearing to time themselves perfectly for when you have just released your shot – you watch your pellet flying happily towards the killzone, only to see it veer off at the last second. Very frustrating!

Despite scoring a very unhappy double zero on day one, another Rivington member, Paul Kelly, wasn’t in the mood for the Turton wind pixies on day two.

Gritting his teeth and once again using the experience and skills gained from shooting both air rifle and bow over many decades, former World Champion bowman Paul successfully beat the field with a much-deserved win. The ever-present Dave Ramshead was placed second, one point behind, with Elliot Compton gaining third.

It is surprising that anybody managed to shoot well at all considering that Rivington club secretary Ian Jones continued to spy on the competitors through his cunningly disguised book.

He had also helpfully purchased a bag of doughnuts with which to present any shooter unfortunate enough to score a zero with some sugary uplift following their disappointment. He really is such a caring person!

With a further five rounds to go, it will be very interesting to see if the current top shots are able to maintain their stranglehold upon shoot wins. Consistency is everything!

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