Hey, hey! Monkeys shoot for charity

Shooters came from far and wide to take part in Northern Monkey HFT’s annual memorial fundraiser

Competitors had to contend with varying degrees of light and shadow, which can really trick the eye when it comes to range estimation

Almost 60 shooters have taken part in the highlight of the Northern Monkey HFT season – the Andrew Luckley Memorial Shoot, which is now in its third year.

Named after said shooter, this is an event the group were asked to revitalise after the demise of the only HFT/FT club in the region some years before.

The lowdown

As well as having the usual HFT classes, a handicap system was in place to enable the normally lower-scoring classes to compete for the overall Memorial Shield as well. Shooters in the Recoiling, .22 and Junior classes received bonus points to be added to their final scores.

One feature that NMHFT incorporate into the shoot is a sponsored lane number. Companies or individuals can sponsor a target, and their chosen logo or photo is made into a sign at the side of the peg along with a message of support – or as in some cases a message of derision!

Up for grabs were these trophies, but the bigger prize was the money raised for charity by the Northern Monkey HFT Memorial Shoot

The money goes directly to The Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team. This has proven popular over the years and has been adopted by other shoots around the country when running similar events.

The event also features a fundraising raffle which had support this year from Vortex, Air Arms, Optics Warehouse, Solware, JSB and Airgun Shooter magazine.

The course

Course-setters Pete Muir and Dave Dresser decided they would build a brand new firing line straight through the centre of the overgrown woodland, so that no local shooters would gain an unfair advantage.

The pair know a thing or two about tricky courses, as Pete won the .22 class at the recent HFT World Championships at Weston Park.

The course-setters had been hoping for a tricky breeze to make the contest more ‘interesting’, but the wind had other ideas

Setting up the Memorial course required weeks of preparation, and the pair were rewarded with numerous bug, mosquito and midge bites. Big Dave even surpassed himself by hammering a wooden post into a burrowed wasp nest – with obvious results!

A big part of the Monkeys’ courses are the varied targets, with many of them being designed by the members themselves to meet certain range trap criteria.

This year was no exception, with the introduction of oversized targets such as the new big monkey, miniature paddles and even an aeroplane up a height that was christened the ‘Misserschmitt’!

Competition

Although a fun shoot where competitors weren’t allocated random partners, the standard of the competition was high. Some of the country’s top HFT shooters had made it and even though there were other big shoots that weekend, the event managed to attract almost 60 shooters.

What could have been a major hurdle was Mother Nature deciding to introduce an up the peg shot by installing a large fallen silver birch right across a lane too late in the day to do anything about. Luckily this was taken in the spirit of the day by all attending, and turned out to be shootable.

Some of the targets such as this pentagram were devilishly difficult – but that didn’t stop Open winner Jake Miller from clearing the course

The course was shot to UKAHFT rules, with the added bonus of the newly formed ‘Three Wise Monkeys Challenge’. Three targets upon the course were monkey silhouettes, and any shooters taking down all three were awarded the prestigious Golden Monkey badge.

After any last-minute zeroing had been done and the safety brief read out, it was two blasts of the whistle to signify the shoot was underway amid pleasant sunshine and temperatures.

The course-setters’ prayers for wind had seemingly gone unanswered and the woodland was nice and calm, which was in the shooters’ favour. The sunshine was a blessing for Pete and Dave though, as they had been experimenting with the use of light and shadows in an attempt to deceive the competitors.

Everyone agreed the course turned out to be most enjoyable one, with a good balance of targets and distances. At the end of the round, only five lucky people managed to qualify for the Golden Monkey badge, a little inner comp that NMHFT may run more often now.

In the main event, three shooters distanced themselves from the rest of the field. Open class shooters Jake Miller, James McLachlan and Daz Taylor were the top three in dazzling form, Jake just edging it with an astonishing clear round! 

Jake Miller receives his trophy from Pete Muir after winning the Open class with a superb clear round

With no one else close who qualified for the bonus points, it meant Jake also has his name engraved upon the Andrew Luckley memorial shield, as well as picking up his winner’s trophy, which was in the shape of the NMHFT logo.

After the presentations and seemingly never ending mega-raffle – which had a vast array of superb prizes up for grabs from a whole range of generous companies and individuals – were finished, it was all over for another year. 

The competitors went home and the NMHFT diehards trudged back into the woods once more to remove the course and bring all the equipment back into storage until the next club shoot the following month.

A copious amount of work goes on behind the scenes from the volunteers to make these types of events happen, but such is the love of the sport, it will take an incredibly large banana skin to slow the progress of these monkeys! 

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