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Shooting as sport

Richard Faulds
Shooting, hunting with shotguns and rifles
What is Clay Pigeon Shooting?
Types of clay pigeon shooting
Pigeons – easy as pie
Pheasants and partridge in Northumberland
How To Cook Shot Pigeons
Why do hunters kill?
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British Olympic Shooting Team
BAE Systems help the British Shooting Team
Pakistan represented at Beijing Olympiad by a lone marksman
Szarenski shooting for medal in third Olympics
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Richard Faulds: The Golden Shot takes aim
By Nick Townsend,6 July 2008

Richard Faulds, the Sydney Olympics 2000 clay pigeon championTrigger happy: Faulds is targeting a place on the podium next month: 'I'd like to think I can make the final and finish in a medal position'

As he prowls between shooting positions, there is an apparent nonchalance about the manner in which Richard Faulds prepares to down his prey during two practise rounds at Bisley Shooting Ground. In this discipline, the double trap, two targets are thrown up simultaneously, following set paths. The shooter has one attempt at each. Today, on 99 out of 100 occasions, the clay pigeons are converted into dust trails. God help the real things if this character had been contracted to eliminate them at Wimbledon. Then we'd have witnessed some accurate volleys.

"It's ideal conditions, no wind, and I'm under no pressure whatsoever...just enjoying myself," Faulds explains. "You'd expect to do that." No. Let's be precise. The world No 1, blessed with an efficiency honed since childhood, would expect to do that. Yet he knows Beijing on 12 August – the date coincides with that famous date in Britain's shooting calendar, the Glorious Twelfth – will be different, even though the gold medallist in the double trap at Sydney, and among the favourites to repeat that feat next month, says he is on top of his game.

In last month's World Cup in Suhl, Germany, he equalled the world record score of 147 (out of 150) in the qualification round before claiming gold. But how to translate that form into Olympic gold? "Ultimately you're doing nothing different to what you do in training and in reality you're shooting against the same people you're up against eight or 10 times a year in competition.

"But you have to ignore the big picture, forget this is the Olympics, just concentrate on what you're doing, not look at anyone else shooting next to you, or worrying about what people have shot, just concentrate on those two plays at that particular time, and if at the end you've hit more than anyone else you win. It's simple."

If ever a man was born to be a crack-shot it is the 31-year-old from Southampton. Laid-back to a fault, he is as chilled as an industrial refrigerator, both on and off the clay pigeon range here on the Surrey "killing" fields. Faulds jokes that it is a deceptive impression. "Like a swan, aren't I? All graceful on the surface but all panic underneath. No, I'm quite fortunate. It takes a lot to get me really wound up. Shooting is a sport where you need to stay calm, relaxed and focused. If you've got the shakes [self-mockingly he makes his trigger-hand tremble, a bit like Gene Wilder's Waco Kid character in Blazing Saddles] that's obviously not the best thing in the world."

Ask him to recall his most treasured moment from eight years ago, and Faulds asks, with a smile: "You mean apart from flying home from Sydney downing champagne for 24 hours?" That followed his achievement in prising gold from the grasp of the home favourite and defending champion Russell Mark, as the Aussie appeared poised for victory. The Briton had been only fourth going into the final round, but produced a remarkable performance to force a shoot-off. Faulds proceeded to secure Britain's first gold medal in trap shooting since Bob Braithwaite in 1968.

However, he concedes candidly: "The sport has moved on a lot since Sydney. The general talent around the world has got better. It was a fantastic performance in 2000 but I'm not sure it would be good enough to win in six weeks' time. That said, I feel I've improved since then. I feel I've got mentally stronger. I can cope better when there's a real pressure situation. Also I've got a family now. That makes so much difference to how you feel within yourself." In Beijing, he'll have his partner Tanya and their nine-month-old son Charlie coming over to support him.

These days there are also sophisticated technological aids to performance. On the day we met, Faulds and his GB team-mates were testing an electronic timing device developed by BAE Systems that for the first time will enable national coaching staff to measure the consistency of timing between two shots in the double trap to 0.01 of a second, both in training and in competition.

You remind Faulds that some question the validity of any Olympic activity involving guns, following Dunblane and more recent highly publicised shootings. "Shooting is a sport, like any other. We're not lunatics. We're perfectly ordinary people," he says. "People who have licences are the most law-abiding citizens and have got to be the most squeaky-clean people out there. At the end of the day, people kill people. Not guns."

Faulds speaks with the authority of a man who has been around guns virtually all his life. "I was fortunate that as soon as I picked up one I was reasonably good reasonably quickly," he says. "I was fortunate that my hobby has become my job. I get up every day and look forward to going to work." He adds wryly: "Olympic gold medals don't pay the rent, certainly in shooting, but it's what I love doing."

In Athens four years ago, Faulds failed to qualify for the final, and that is one reason why he insists: "I never feel I should put my neck on the line and say 'I'm going to win a medal' but I'd like to think I could make the final, move forward from there and, fingers crossed, finish in a medal position." A case, surely, of the calm before the storming of the Olympic medal vaults.

Shooting, hunting with shotguns and rifles!

Shooting is a popular country sport. It is a fundamental part of rural life, which brings pleasure to many and which is a major force for the conservation of wildlife habitats and rural landscapes. There are four main types of sporting shooting with shotguns in the UK; rough shooting, driven shooting, pigeon shooting and wildfowling. Stalking, the management of deer using rifles, is another form of shooting.

1.4 million Britons have at some point taken part in game shooting. People from all backgrounds, who appreciate the companionship, skill and access to wild places that the sport brings, enjoy shooting. It is a major employer, responsible for providing over 39,000 jobs and generating over £500 million per annum.

Shooting and nature conservation go hand in hand. Although the British countryside has been subject to enormous changes over the last 50 years, with the removal of many historic landscape features and wildlife habitats, shooting has served to protect large areas of traditional countryside. Farmers and landowners who enjoy shooting have resisted the financial pressures to grub up hedges and woodlands, or to drain wetlands, since these areas provide important habitats for game birds.

Only 2% of the land in Britain is covered by nature reserves. Farmers and landowners manage the vast majority –some 88% - and half of this sustains some form of shooting. Management of this land by gamekeepers ensures the survival not just of the pheasants, partridges and wildfowl which shooting sportsmen like to hunt, but of millions of other wild creatures such as songbirds and butterflies which share their habitats.

What is Clay Pigeon Shooting?

Trapshooting is a shooting sport enjoyed by millions of people around the world. It involves shooting clay targets (referred to as "birds" or "pigeons")Clay pigeon shooting, formally known as ‘Inanimate Bird Shooting’, is the art of shooting at special flying targets, known as clay pigeons or clay targets, normally with a shotgun. The sport has evolved over the years from its live pigeon shooting roots; through glass balls and feathers; up to the modern day where it is now a respected Olympic Sport. It is interesting to note that the 'target' today is neither clay nor pigeon!

The terminology commonly used by clay shooters often still relates to times past, when live pigeon competitions were held. Although such competitions were made illegal in the UK in 1921, a target is still sometimes called a 'bird', a hit is sometimes referred to as a 'kill', a missed target might be described as a 'bird away' and the machine which projects the targets is known as a 'trap'.

Who Started It? - Early pioneers

One the most famous of the early ‘sharp-shooters’ was Annie Oakley - probably one of the United States’ finest ‘marksmen’. Born in 1860, Oakley's shooting skills were developed early in her life and when she was age 21 she met her future husband, shooting champion, Frank Butler by defeating him in a match. They toured as a team for some years before he retired to manage her career. She joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West in 1885 and performed as the star of that 19th century show for more than 16 years. She astonished Americans and royalty across England and Europe with her amazing skill.

She was injured in a train accident in 1901 that ended her career with the Wild West. After she recovered she went on to shoot in charity events to help orphans, widows, and underprivileged women. She campaigned for women's rights to hold paid employment, earn equal pay, participate in sports, and defend herself in her own home and on city streets.

Other early Pioneers
Doc Carver http://www.traphof.org/inductees/carver.htm
Captain Bogardus http://www.traphof.org/inductees/bogardus1.htm

The Competitive Side

Clay pigeon shooting has at least 20 different forms of regulated competition called disciplines. These can be roughly divided into three main groups: Trap shooting; Skeet Shooting and Sporting Clays.

Trap shooting
There are many versions of Trap Shooting including Olympic Trap, Double Trap (which is also an Olympic event), Nordic Trap, and several national versions such as American Trap. The layout of modern trap shooting is recognised by the fact that there is only one house that releases targets and the shooters only move through 5 different positions. Trap shooting has been a sport since at least 1793 when it used real birds, usually the then extremely abundant Passenger Pigeon. Fake birds were introduced around the time of the American Civil War as the Passenger Pigeon was nearing extinction and sufficient numbers were not reliably available. Clay targets were introduced in the 1880's.

Targets are thrown either as singles or doubles from one or more traps situated some 15m in front of the shooter and are generally going away from the firing point at varying speeds, angles and elevations. The most common disciplines in this group are:- Down-the-Line (DTL) Single Barrel, Double Rise, Automatic Ball Trap (ABT), Olympic Trap, Double Trap and Universal Trench.

Skeet shooting
Skeet was invented by Charles E. Davies, an avid grouse hunter, in 1915 and evolved to its current setup by 1923. As with Trap shooting it originally used live pigeons but eventually the use of clay targets replaced the more traditional target as a cheaper, humane and more reliable alternative - one reason they are also called clay pigeons. In 1926 a contest was held to name the new sport, and Gertrude Hurlbutt named it skeet, which is derived from the Scandinavian word for "shoot". During World War II, Skeet was used in the American military to teach gunners the principle of leading and timing on flying targets.

Skeet is a recreational and competitive activity where participants attempt to break clay disks flung into the air at high speed from a variety of angles. The main disciplines in this group are English Skeet, Olympic Skeet and American (NSSA) Skeet. For the American version of the game, the clay discs are 4 5/16" in diameter and 1 1/8" thick, and fly a distance of approximately 60 yards. The international version of skeet uses a target that is slightly larger in diameter (110mm), shorter in cross section (25mm vs. 1 1/8"), and has a thicker dome centre, making it harder to break. International targets are also thrown a longer distance from similar heights (over 70 yards), resulting in a faster target speed.

The event is in part meant to simulate the action of bird hunting. The shooter shoots from 7 positions on a semi-circle, and an 8th position halfway between stations 1 and 7. There are two houses containing the traps, about 40 metres apart, one at each corner of the semi-circle. The traps launch the targets to a point 15 feet above ground and 18 feet outside of station 8. One trap launches targets from 10 feet above the ground ("high" house) and the other launches it from 3 feet above ground ("low" house). At each of the stations the shooter shoots at a combination of single targets launched from both the high house and the low house and at some is then required to shoot a double, where the two targets are launched simultaneously. This uses 24 shells (3 per station). If a target is missed it must be reshot with the 25th shell, or if no targets are missed, the shooter must shoot his 25th shell at the low house station 8. This 25th shot was once referred to as the shooter's option as he was able to take it where he preferred. Now, to speed up rounds in competition, the shooter must shoot the low 8 twice for a perfect score.

The firearm of choice for this task is usually a high quality shotgun although many shooters of American skeet and other national versions still use inexpensive semi-auto and pump action shot guns with great success.

Sporting Clays (shooting)
Sporting Clays is often described as golf with a shotgun and is probably the most challenging of the three types. It differs from skeet and trap shooting in that it involves shooting clays at various locations which are launched at different velocities and angles. The original idea behind sporting clays was to create an experience that more closely reflects actual hunting conditions. Whereas top-tier skeet and trap professionals may have hit ratings nearing 100%, the best sporting clay shooters hit their targets only about 85% of the time!

This discipline also has the sport's biggest following. While the other disciplines only use standard targets, in Sporting almost anything goes! Targets are thrown in a great variety of trajectories, angles, speeds, elevations and distances and the discipline was originally devised to simulate live quarry shooting, hence some of the names commonly used on Sporting stands: Springing Teal, Driven Pheasant, Bolting Rabbit, Crossing Pigeon, Dropping Duck, etc.

Clay Pigeons / Targets
Pigeon ShootingThe targets used for the sport are usually in the shape of an inverted saucer, made from a mixture of pitch and chalk designed to withstand being thrown from traps at very high speeds, but at the same time being easily broken when hit by just a very few lead or steel pellets shot from a shotgun.

The targets are usually black, but other colours such as white, yellow or fluorescent orange are frequently used in order that they can be clearly seen against varying backgrounds and differing light conditions.

Clay pigeons are made to very exacting specifications with regard to their weight and dimensions and must conform to set international standards.

There are several types of targets that are used for the various disciplines, as follows. However, only the standard 110 mm target is used in all of the trap and skeet disciplines. Sporting shoots feature the full range of targets (except ZZ) to provide the variety that is a hallmark of the discipline.

Standard: The most commonly used target of all, must weigh 105 grams and be of 110 mm overall diameter and 25-26 mm in height.

Midi: Same saucer shape as the standard but with a diameter of only 90 mm.
Mini: This target is sometimes likened to a flying bumblebee at only 60 mm in diameter and 20 mm in height.
Battue: A very thin, flat, wafer of a target of about 110 mm diameter which flies very fast and falls off very suddenly.
Rabbit: A standard sized (but thicker) flat target in the shape of a wheel designed to run fast along the ground.
ZZ: This is a plastic, standard sized target attached to the centre of a 2-blade propeller of different colour designed to zig-zag in flight in a totally unpredictable manner.

Naturally, the simplest method of throwing a clay target is by hand, either into the air or along the ground. This is of course how it all started but over the years a multitude of devices have been invented or appropriated to make this task safer and more reliable - see below. Clay targets are ‘thrown’ after the shooter calls "pull," or something similar. This convention is not only for safety, but also allows the shooter to prepare for the moving target. The two primary methods of projecting clay targets are airborne and ground (rolling.) Rolling or "rabbit" style is usually considered the more difficult.

The Traps
These days the Traps are purpose made, spring loaded, flywheel or rotational devices especially designed to launch the different types of targets in singles or pairs at distances of up to 100 metres. These machines vary from the very simple hand cocked, hand loaded and hand released types to the highly sophisticated, fully automatic variety which can hold up to 600 targets in their own magazine and are electrically or pneumatically operated.

Modern shooting ranges will usually have machines that throw the clay targets in consistent arcs at the push of a button. Target release is by remote control either by pressing a button or by an acoustic system activated by the shooter's voice. With modern machines target speeds and trajectories can be easily modified and varied to suit the discipline or type of shooting required.

Clay Pigeon Shooting at the Olympics

Clay pigeon shooting is a multi-discipline modern National, International and Olympic sport at which the various British teams have successfully competed at the very highest level for many years. Our game shooting has been the best in the world for at least 200 years.

Olympic Skeet has had Olympic status since 1968, and, until 1992, was open to both sexes. After that year, all ISSF events have been open to men - females were not allowed to compete in the Olympic Skeet competitions. This was somewhat controversial due to the fact that the 1992 Olympic Champion was indeed a woman, Shan Zhan of China! However, women had their own World Championships, and in 2000, a female Skeet event was introduced to the Olympic program. In Olympic Skeet, there is a delay of between 0 to 3 seconds after the shooter has called for the target. Also, the shooter must hold his gun so that the gun butt is at mid-torso level until the target appears.

Britain’s Richard Faulds won a gold medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 in a sudden death shoot-out in the final of the men's double-trap clay pigeon event. Faulds was lying fourth going into the final round at the Sydney International Shooting Centre but hit three of the four clay targets to clinch the title from Australia's Russell Mark, who only hit two. Faulds, who learnt to fire a shotgun on his father's Hampshire farm at the age of 10, became the first Britain to win a shooting gold since Malcolm Cooper in 1988. In the same year Ian Peel got Silver.

There are many types of clay pigeon shooting the shooter to take part in and enjoy.
The main formats/disciplines of the sport are listed below.

World Sporting
World Sporting is an affordable cross between Fitasc and English Sporting. Using up to 3 traps per stand, and shooting sequences from the traps available in a similar way to compak sporting. On a 100 target shoot between 10 and 13 stands will be used.

This system offers the clay shooter a far more realistic and varied representation of targets as in Fitasc but at about half the cost and can be shot in the same time frame as normal English Sporting.

The main difference from standard English Sporting being the ability to shoot reversed sequence report pairs and the ability to select the best simultaneous pair/s on a three trap layout. This creates a more realistic sporting shoot as you rarely shoot the same target or sequence twice.

Backed up with the unique handicap pro system World Sporting Clay Pigeon Shooting offers the shooter a fairer chance of competing at their level and rewards those that improve or maintain their standard of shooting.

Fitasc Sporting
Fitasc, the name is an acronym of Federation Internationale de Tir Aux Sportives de Chasse. FITASC is an international form of Sporting Clays and enjoys a following the world over. Many would argue that it is the ultimate challenge in clay target shooting, and a World or European title is the pinnacle of anyone's shooting career.

Competitions are typically 100 targets made up of four rounds, or "Parcours". Bigger events will have over 150 targets, whilst the European and World Events are staged over 200 targets, 50 shot each day.

There are two variations in the format, known as "old system" and "new system". The new system accommodates more shooters but requires considerably more traps, whilst the old system is still more favoured as the purest form of the sport.

The old system comprises five traps on a layout with three different shooting positions. The positions are marked by a 1 metre diameter hop placed on the ground. A squad of six shooters shoots the sequence of targets from Peg 1 and then moves on to Peg 2, then Peg 3. The downside of this system is that only one squad can be 'in action' on a particular layout at one time.

The new system will still have three or four shooting positions on each layout, but each position will have its own set of traps. This means that a squad can be shooting from each position at the same time. This system allows more shooters to compete in a day but costs are increased considerably. World and European Championships will always be set on the new system with a mandatory requirement for eight layouts or Parcours.

On arriving at the stand, the squad is shown the targets they will shoot. The first shooter will shoot all their singles from that stand and will then step off to allow the next shooter to move forward. The doubles is then shot with shooter number 2 starting, number 1 having dropped to the last person to shoot. On the next layout, number 3 shooter will lead off and so on. This means that a different shooter starts each time. Double targets can be simultaneous, on report or trailing, "raffael" in FITASC terminology.

On single targets, full use of the gun is allowed and a kill is recorded whether the first or second shot breaks the target. For the doubles, there is no requirement to fire one shot at each target and a competitor may fire both barrels at one of the targets if they wish. There is no penalty for doing so and the target will be scored if broken with either shot.

English Sporting
In its early form, English Sporting usually presented the shooter with two different targets. The targets used were normally quartering targets, crossers, driven, overhead, rabbits, springing teal amongst others the course creator might feel is challenging. Today, As the most popular form of clay shooting, English Sporting provides a shooting environment that offers different layouts and a constant challenge.

The targets can be launched as singles or pairs. The pair would consist either of one target, then the second being launched the instant a shot is fired or both targets fired at the same time.

An average competition may comprise of around five stands used to shoot around 30 targets. Differing variations allow more targets and stands to be used and in a large competition there may be as many as 12 different stands and 100 targets.

There is no set way of selecting stands and shooters can select in a random order if they wish. However squadding is sometimes popular with fixed shooting times, a pre-determined order relates to what order stands should be used, this is used mainly when shooting in large competitions. The shooter has an option to call for the target with the gun in or out of their shoulder.

Compak Sporting
Compak Sporting allows all the usual targets from English and International sporting to be combined into a competition that can be shot in a small area. Set on a Skeet or Trap range, five firing points are available, along with extra traps. These traps can be differing types of target for example Rabbit or Springing teal these are added to a combination of Horizontal Skeet Targets.

Shooter's change firing points every sequence of targets throughout the 25 that makes up a round. Single/Double targets are fired when the shooter calls with their gun out of their shoulder.

Olympic Trap (OT)
As its name indicates, this is one of the disciplines which forms part of the shooting programme at the Olympic Games. A trench in front of the shooting stands conceals 15 traps arranged in 5 groups of 3. Shooters take turns to shoot at a target each, before moving in a clockwise direction to the next stand in the line. Targets for each shooter are thrown immediately upon his call and are randomly selected from any one of the three traps directly in front of him/her. Olympic Trap targets are set to travel 75 +/- one metre at varying elevations and with a maximum horizontal angle of 45 degrees either side of the centre line. Scoring is done of the basis of 1 point per target killed, regardless of whether this is achieved with the first or second barrel.

Automatic Ball Trap  (ABT)
A simpler and cheaper to install variation of Olympic Trap where only one trap is used and target variation is obtained by the continuous oscillation of the trap in both horizontal and vertical directions in order to give the same spread of targets as in Olympic Trap. Similarly, the targets are also thrown to a maximum of 70-75 metres.

Universal Trench (UT)
Universal Trench uses five traps per layout set in a trench 8 metres long. The front of the trench is 15 metres from the front of the shooting positions. Looking from the shooting points the
traps are numbered 1-5 from the left, with number 3 aligned with the centre (no 3) station.
The traps must be spaced 1-1.25 metres apart. Five shooting positions, 1 metre square, are arranged in a straight line, with 1.5 metre spaces between them. The targets are set to different angles and trajectories according to official ‘schemes’ laid down by the governing body. The maximum height (measured 10 metres from the trap) is 3.5 metres, minimum 1.5 metres. In still air the targets should fly a distance of 60-75 metres.

Traps 1 and 2 will always be set to throw targets angled to the right, while 4 and 5 throw to the left. The centre trap 3 throws a straight ahead bird, plus or minus up to 10 degrees according to the scheme in use. The targets are thrown in random order but programmed so that in a round of 25 each shooter will have shot at all five traps from each shooting position, making it fair to all.

Down the Line (DTL)
Targets are thrown to a distance of 45 to 50 metres at a fixed height of approximately 2.75m and with a horizontal 'spread' of up to 22 degrees either side of the centre line.

Each competitor shoots at a single target in turn, but without moving from the stand until they have shot five targets. Then they all move one place to the right, and continue to do so until they have all completed a standard round of 25 targets.

Scoring of each target is 3 points for a first barrel kill, 2 points for a second barrel kill and 0 for a miss (maximum 75 points per round).

Variations of this discipline are: Single Barrel, Double Rise and Handicap-by-Distance. Possibly the most popular entry level discipline and competitors often go on to the most exacting discipline of Olympic Trap.

English Skeet
In this discipline a standard round of 25 targets are shot from 7 stations in a semicircle.
At the ends of the semicircle are the High and Low trap houses from which targets are released on a fixed trajectory and within defined limits.

A set combination of singles and doubles are shot from each station and scored on the basis of 1 point per target hit.

The gun position is optional (i.e. either pre-mounted or out of the shoulder (gun down) when the target is called) and the targets are released immediately upon the shooter's call.

Competitions consist of shooting 100 targets over 4 rounds.
ISU Skeet
The targets travel at a considerably faster speed than English Skeet, and the release of the target can be delayed up to 3 seconds after calling and the gun-down position is compulsory. There is also an eighth shooting station, midway between the two houses

Pigeons – easy as pie

In the summer , when the days are as hot as your barrels, pigeon shooting comes into its own. Since pigeons are capable of devastating agricultural crops farmers will often welcome responsible Guns, so how do you get started? One of Britain’s leading authorities,  JOHN BATLEY, provides a beginner’s guide.

Imagine this; the editor phones and casually asks for a complete novice's guide to woodpigeon decoying in only 1,500 words……  After some very careful thought I can do no better than offer the final two sentences of a book that I wrote on the subject a few years ago.  'I am a strong believer in fieldcraft.  Go out and practise it, enjoy the sport and its many rewards, and remember the most important rule: do your reconnaissance and look for pigeons in the air not on the ground.' 

There you have it, fieldcraft and reconnaissance: the be all and end all of pigeon shooting.  However, it's not quite as easy as that, you need a starting point, so let's start with the bird itself.

The woodpigeon
The woodpigeon, Columba palumbus, has been native to Great Britain for centuries, its cousin in mainland Europe is migratory but we have the only sedentary population of the species that exists.  We probably have as many as 15-20 million birds in the UK. 

The population is healthy, the bird breeds at least twice, and in good warm summers three times, a year and they lay two eggs at a time.  It has been guesstimated that we shoot around a third of this increasing population and more than 200,000 people hunt the woodpigeon in the UK every year.

The woodpigeon is easy to recognise; a delicate grey overall with white wing bars and, in the adults, a white neck band.  The underside of the body is a rich mixture of colours from pink to mauve.  A bright yellow eye, a wingspan of just over two feet and an extraordinary capacity for aerobatics which can leave the decoyer with two empty cartridges and nothing in the bag more often than you would believe.  Our bird weighs around 20 ounces and is capable of more than 50 miles an hour in level flight. 

By the way, if the bird you are aiming at has no white wing bars don't even attempt to shoot it, it is most likely a stock dove and protected under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Pigeons like to feed with their friends - you therefore need a few decoys to get the ball rolling.
Now you know how to recognise the bird you need to find it and go about hunting it.  Wood pigeons are a flock bird, they eat almost non-stop to keep up with their rapid metabolism and they spend many of their waking hours on the ground with their fellows eating the poor farmer out of house and home. 
This is where you come in. 

You are driving home on a summer's afternoon (one the best times of day to go decoying), when you pass a recently harvested field of oilseed rape; as if at a signal the field bursts into life.  One moment there is a stubble field, the next the air is full of grey and white birds twisting and turning as they lift of the field as one.  Pigeons.  How can you get some?

The answer lies in fieldcraft, to be precise in flightlines. 

Woodpigeons arrive, and leave, their chosen field on flightlines and to decoy successfully you need to know what a flightline is and how to find it.  A flightline is quite simply a 'road in the air' which the birds use to get from home to food and back again. 

The woodpigeon sleeps, and breeds, in woods, he feeds in fields and he has chosen routes on which he flies to travel between the two.  Drive to a field on which you have spotted pigeon feeding, sit in your car on the edge of the field with a pair of binoculars for half an hour or more and watch.  If the birds are using the field you will see traffic, birds coming into and going out of the field. 

Pigeons like to fly and they usually fly, and decoy,  better in a wind; the prevailing wind in this country is from the South West.  Study the wind, look for staging posts along the line that they use, single trees in the field, hedge lines, streams, farm tracks etc.  The lines are really just like roads, they have cross roads, corners, junctions, lay-bys and so on. Once you have established the line that the birds are using you merely have to build your hide under that line and go decoying. 

The logic behind this piece of fieldcraft is easy.  If you don't do your reconnaissance and merely build your hide on the field where you have seen the birds feeding you will scare them away when you approach to construct your hide, and you have no way of knowing if they arrived to feed haphazardly in that spot or that they chose to be there. 

If, however, you have watched the field and you build your hide under their flightline into that same field, you know, even if you scare them away when you start shooting, that when they return to feed (because you have attracted them with your decoy layout),  they will all fly along the flightline.     

The next step is to build yourself a hide under the line and start decoying.  Hides come in various guises; natural, bale and net.  Today the technology in hide making belongs to the net and pole manufacturer.  Buy yourself 20 x 4-5 feet of light coloured camouflage netting and half a dozen telescopic, purpose made hide poles and you have enough to build a hide anywhere which will serve you throughout the changing colours and seasons of the year.  Build your hide so that you have background cover, enough room to sit comfortably, see out of the hide without showing your face to the incoming pigeon, stand and swing the gun and leave room for the dog.  

Hides can also be built from natural materials, but don't ever cut down any of the farmer's fences if you want to return.

Now for the decoy pattern; I could give you several thousand words on the theories but, the editor has allowed me but a few.  So, just take my word for it and set out a basic 'U' shaped pattern, watch the pigeons on their approach to your pattern and go from there.  Pigeons like to feed with their friends, you therefore need a few (a dozen will to do to start with), decoys to get the ball rolling. 

A 'U' shaped pattern will give the most encouragement to the birds to  land and, with the wind behind you, give you the easiest shooting.

There are many artificial decoys  in the shops, they should not shine in either the sun or the rain, and the lightest are usually the best as they are the easiest to carry long distances.  Set the front of the pattern 25 yards from the hide, leave 2-3 yards between each decoy and extend the arms of the 'U' at least 15-20 yards from the front of the pattern and finally make the open end of the 'U' at least 15 yards wide. 

Once you have been successful with the 'U' you can experiment with other shapes.

A basic rule of all patterns is that, if the birds don't come into land and jink away from your decoys; you and not the pigeons have got something wrong.

Shooting, guns and cartridges:  The gun (to start with), 12-bore, double barrelled (28" barrels are good), choked improved and ½  firing 1 ounce (28 grams), of No 6 shot will drop pigeons stone dead at between 25-35 yards all day long.  A 20-bore with the equivalent load (13/16 ounce (23 grams), will do the same.

Before I give you any tips on shooting please remember this: Read the BASC guide to pigeon shooting and never, never have more than one gun unslipped, or in use, in a hide at any time. 

The pigeon shot takes some practice but instinct is usually better than maintained lead.  You know that the decoys are placed within the range at which your gun patterns best, wait for the bird to come into the decoy pattern, mount the gun and swing through the bird in the same movement and squeeze the trigger.  Don't move until you are going to shoot or you will scare the bird away before he comes within your chosen range. 

Practice will make perfect.  Forget about averages, if you are happy with your shooting then that is a good average, if you are not then that is a bad average and you should return to the shooting school.


Pheasants and partridge in Northumberland
By Darren Crush 20 August 2007

The Scrainwood shoot has been through several changes in its lifetime, but pickers-up and guns alike still return to the wonderful Northumberland hills.

When an invitation came to be a guest gun on the Scrainwood shoot in the Cheviot Hills, I literally leapt at the chance.

Scrainwood has enjoyed a couple of guises since its inception in December 1998, and can even count Lord James Percy of Linhope fame as an advisor in its development.

Originally called Coquetdale, this shoot - 15 minutes from the village of Rothbury and north west of Newcastle - is now called the Scrainwood estate shoot and is under the supervision and ownership of Simon Halbert.

I first met Simon on Williamston grouse moor (this shoot is to be featured in the August edition) and it wasn't long before he was offering me the chance to shoot at Scrainwood, having bought the operation in 2005 with a view to maintaining the quality that was already evident when the shoot was first covered in 2000 by Shooting Gazette.

Although not much has changed in the past two seasons, it is Simon's remit, along with headkeeper Jim Fair and shoot manager, Jon Blakey, to increase the number of drives, enhance the habitat, and add more acres of game cover to improve the holding ground.

Simon started off his working life as a journalist on Metro radio in Newcastle - the first station to inspire commercial radio before joining the family company, Kilfrost Ltd., a business that started life in the early 1930s in London and then moved operations to Haltwhistle in Northumberland.

For the past 75 years, Kilfrost has remained at the forefront of making de-icing, and subsequently antiicing, fluids for the aircraft industry. But now, having worked hard, Simon has stepped away from the company and concentrates his energies on his family and the Scrainwood farm estate, previously owned by the Snaith family - a household who had lived in or around the area since the 1800s.

Following its acquisition two years ago, Simon has had to fully refurbish the farmhouse, a beautiful building with wonderful views over the surrounding countryside, and the shooting lodge - a tastefully decorated set of rooms that take in a kitchen, downstairs bathroom, dining room full with fireplace, and a upstairs room perfect for pre-dinner drinks and graced with every tipple a true sporting gent could wish for.

Having stayed the previous night in the wonderful Anglers Arms in Longframlington, I was suitably fortified and enjoyed a short drive to the shoot lodge where the meet was taking place, paralleling the River Coquet in the process.

"Heartily welcomed by Simon, it was a cup of hot coffee, or two, a brief chat and then a saddle up to the first drive - Clarkys."

The shoot was originally the brainchild of a group of local landowners and farmers, keen shooting men, who decided to create a shoot on the edge of the Coquetdale Valley.

This shared passion brought the parties involved - Derek Edwards, Thomas and George Snaith and Jon Blakey - a joint resource of approximately 3,000 acres and a company by the name of Coquetdale Sporting Ltd. Other farmers gave over land but did not become part of the new venture.

One of the estate's major features is its outstanding and exciting topography, taking in everything from conifer belts and rocky outcrops to rolling grassland. All these have helped to nurture the shoot, and with Simon and Jim's new programme of game cover planting - amounting to around 80 acres at present - it won't be long before the eight main drives the estate possesses will be increased to around 12.

Jim continues: "At the moment we have kale, tick beans, and maize, but we've already got some canary grass planted in preparation for the start of the 2007 season. The whole idea is for us to develop the shoot, and at the moment things are being put in place to do this."

"There is no doubt Simon's business acumen holds him in good stead to make this operation work, and, with Jim's enthusiasm, and the dedicated team of beaters, pickers-up and back room staff, this success is sure to come."

The first drive, Clarkys, was to be our start and I, along with fellow gun, Peter Stott, enjoyed back gun positions. The forward line arced around a tree plantation in front of us as first partridges broke cover and then pheasants of the highest quality filled the crisp Northumberland sky. The majority climbed high overhead to fight another day, but there was some commendable shooting that brought down real angels.

The weather conditions on the day were spectacular, if not conducive to good shooting, with a bright sun and deep blue sky the order for the proceedings. Although it has to be said that such meteorological delights did not prove detrimental to the quality on show, and, if anything, provided a scenic backdrop.

The second drive, L Plot, found me on the far left of the line with a 300 metre bank to the fore and aft, and the rest of the guns curled round the base of the bank.

Clarkys had really warmed the barrels and it was with great excitement that I envisaged what the birds would be like on this drive. So, with the beating line advancing, I saw specks of partridges making their way along the top of the bank before reaching the flushing point and making a bid for freedom to the bank behind. With pickers-up strategically placed to the rear, the show began, with the end result very much in line with the opening performance.

"As the second drive drew to a close, we made our way to the vehicles for a few nibbles and some gin and tonics that had scant regard for imperial measures, yet slipped down sweeter than the finest refreshments."

The lull in proceedings gave me the chance to have a chat with one Mike Anton, a charming man who runs an estate agency business, Mike Anton & Associates, in the beautiful market town of Corbridge, and who, amongst other notables, found our very own Jonny Wilkinson, of Newcastle Falcons fame, a house to rest his rugby battered body.

His estate agency company deals in fine houses and having spoken to him not yet three minutes, it was easy to see how his sales pitch rarely, if ever, fails: "You see the thing about it is," said Mike, "that we as Northumbrians are very proud of our heritage and also the wonderful surroundings in which we live. Ever since I have been a member of this shoot, it never ceases to amaze me how picturesque it actually is. Sometimes you just want to keep it for yourself, away from prying eyes, but that just can't be the case, and we really wouldn't want it to be either."

Shooting with a best English side-by-side, Mike shot admirably and the obvious traditions that go hand-in-hand with shooting are as important to him as they are to Simon.

Following the break, we made our way to the third drive, Pace Hill. On this drive we made our way towards an area of grassy upland, which not only exposed us to a sharp, strong wind but also views over the Cheviot Hills. The guns, again in an arc, ranged from the highest part of the upland to a lowland valley area, that saw their birds come over at a stratospheric height, bearing in mind they were already high and fast over the upland part of the line.

"Zipping over us, it was a true test of line and lead for these beauties, as partridges and pheasants got up and powered over us, fully utilising the tail wind at their disposal - Northumbrian sport at its very best."

Sleeving the guns and combing the area behind for our well-deserved quarry, it was away in the vehicles to the newly converted shooting lodge, laid out with meats of all varieties, cheeses, piping hot jacket spuds, wine, and condiments the world over, that was after a wee tipple in the drinks room upstairs, of course.

The lunchtime chat was jovial, there were no airs and graces, and I felt absolutely at home in the room of men, ranging from wine merchants to estate agents, land owners to farmers - the majority from Northumbria, and all with a friendly word. The conservation flitted from the future of shooting to the choice of wine, and, as is often the case, was over far too soon. But we were on to the last drive of the day and no-one wanted to miss that.

As the day drew to a close we lined-up for the Gully drive, this time with Simon as back gun. For this drive we were positioned in a small valley and advised that the quarry could come from the front and behind, and we were free to take the shots - as long as they were safe - at all times. The drive didn't disappoint, and, as the sun set and provided a beautiful, yet surreal, end to the day, the waft of Simon's cigar smoke filled the air and we walked back to the vehicles.

"Simon showed us a thing or two with his shotgun on the Gully drive, and you could sense his pleasure in the knowledge that everyone had enjoyed themselves."

The Scrainwood chapter, although beginning back in 1998, is yet to be completed, and with Simon's vision and flair, Jim's dedication, and a little help from their friends, the ending is sure to be an absolute knockout.

The final bag for the day was 115 pheasants and 223 partridges. Here's to an invite in 2010 - keep watching this space.

For more information on the Scrainwood Estate shoot email scrainwoodestate@aol.com


How To Cook Shot Pigeons


 Ok so you've checked out the forum you've read the pages and you've actually managed to shot some pigeons what now? Well now you've got to cook them, as pigeon is possibly the most underated meat ever... its delicious, with the following recipes you should be drooling in anticipation each time you go out pigeon decoying.

Stir Fryed Pigeon
Simply cut the breast into thin slices, then marinade in garlic lemon soya sauce (in fact anything you like just play about). Leave for about one hour then stir fry with onion, green/red pepper, mushrooms, a bit of ginger root, and carrot which is cut into juilienne strips. Then mix in beansprouts or noodles it really doesn't matter what you use it'll still taste good.

Pigeon Tikka
Simply use tikka paste and cook as chicken but not for quite as long. Got to be a bit cosmopolitan! Marinating the pigeon for a while before helps too.

Stewed Pigeon
I love to wrap some bacon round the breast (hold in place with a wooden skewer) fry the bacon and breast a bit before placing in the stewing pot.

Pigeon Kebabs
Pigeon Kebabs - Cut pigeon breasts into chunks and thread onto skewer with chunks of pepper, onion, mushroom etc. Marinade in Worcester sauce, and/or barbecue / asian spices. Barbecue or in roast in oven.

Pigeon Pie

3 (or 4) pigeons, drawn, cleaned and skinned, or diced. (I prefer to used diced birds as it makes it easier to serve and makes less mess at mealtime with the bones)
1 lb rump steak
3 slices of streaky bacon, smoked or unsmoked, depending on taste, rind removed and diced. (Cooked ham may be used instead)
Pepper and salt to taste
Herbs to taste (sage and thyme are the most used)
Sausage meat for stuffing.
Small finely chopped onion, fried till soft. (optional)
1 clove garlic, pressed (optional)
2 oz butter
Worcestershire Sauce / Yorskhire Relish to taste. Mushroom ketchup is excellent if you can get it.
Bay leaf
4 eggs
Rich stock (a little Bisto added will give a darker colour if desired)
Puff pastry (or shortcrust if desired)

Method: Dice the steak and line bottom of pie dish with it, season with pepper and salt. Rub pigeons with pepper and salt and cover each with at least ½ oz butter. If using whole pigeons, put most of the butter inside.

Make the forcemeat stuffing by beating the livers with sausagemeat and a pinch of herbs. If using whole pigeons, use this to stuff them. For diced pigeon lay this in balls around the pigeon meat. Place the pigeons on the beef (breast downwards if whole), and lay the bacon over them. Add Worcestershire Sauce or Yorkshire Relish.

Next add the onion, yolks and bay leaf. Season stock with pepper, salt, herbs and garlic as desired and then half fill the dish using the stock, place a border of pastry around the edge of the dish and put on the pastry lid. Glaze crust with egg yolk. Make holes in the centre to let out the steam.

Cook in a moderate (about Gas Mark 5) oven for 1 ¼ hours and serve piping hot with potatoes and vegetables. If using whole birds, don't forget to provide a dish on the table for bones, serves 5-6 people.


1) A wine sauce can be used as an alternative to the egg yolks and stock. The pigeons may also be marinaded in red wine overnight if desired). Add mushrooms and onion if using wine sauce.
2) More pigeon meat may be used instead of the steak if desired.
3) Juniper berries may be added to the stock.
4) Egg yolks may be omitted for a less rich pie. Butter is always needed as pigeon meat contains little fat.
5) Mushrooms may be added to the steak. Avoid adding other vegetables though as they don't go well.
6) The garlic may be added to the butter instead of to the stock.

Why do Hunters Kill?
By Russ Chastain

When there's meat available at the butcher's, why must hunters kill their own?

It is my feeling that hunting is not a sport, inasmuch as a sport is most often perceived as an organized activity performed for the entertainment of the participants and/or onlookers. Hunting is something that goes much deeper than that.

I've been asked several times why hunters kill, when we could just as easily stalk our prey with a camera or binoculars, just for the thrill of being up close with a deer, turkey, or other game animal. The answer is simple: without the kill, we're not hunting.

The kill is the culmination of the hunt. We're not fishing here; there's no catch-and-release option, it's all or nothing. Yes, it's fulfilling just to be in the woods with the animals, and to get up-close-and-personal with them. Yes, it's a thrill to have a deer walk by at 25 yards, totally unaware of my presence. But the kill is what makes it hunting.

I've got to quote a favorite statement here: We don't hunt to kill, we kill in order to have hunted. I'm not sure of the source of this quote, but it's right on. We hunt for the thrill of the chase, and the ecstatic peace that comes with being out there trying to beat a wild animal at his own game. When the chance finally comes, there is no doubt; we will kill.

But, can't we just stroll down to the grocery store and pick out a nice roast, instead of killing the poor forest creatures? Yep. But why should we? When I kill a deer, I know that deer had a chance, and that up until the time I took him, he lived a wild, free life. That erstwhile cow that's sitting in the foam trays in the butcher's case was born to die... it never had a chance. Add to that the various steroid injections, etc, and I know I'd rather be eating the deer. I also know the conditions in which the deer was butchered, since I've always done that myself. I also have the pride in furnishing it, rather than paying someone else to do my killing for me.

To those who don't kill and don't understand why we do, I'll borrow from an acquaintance. Why do we kill rather than buy meat? For the same reason many folks grow vegetables in their back yards... for the same reason amateur musicians play music rather than buying it... for the same reason folks paint or draw pictures, rather than buying someone else's art... for the same reason many enjoy photography rather than just buying a picture book of photos... because of the pride that lies in doing it ourselves. Also, venison (deer meat) is healthier than beef or pork, as it is much leaner.

I have to include another quote as well, from The Old Man and the Boy : "...if there's one thing I despise it's a killer, some blood-crazy idiot that just goes around bam-bamming at everything he sees. A man who takes pleasure in death just for death's sake is rotten somewhere inside, and you'll find him doing things later in life that'll prove it." All true hunters agree with this, and we don't kill out of bloodlust, and we don't kill everything we see.

The kill is not the bottom line reason for the hunt, but it cannot be removed from the equation.
-Russ Chastain

Target Sports

The sport of target shooting involves the use of air rifles and pistols, muzzle-loading rifles and pistols and cartridge rifles, both rimfire and centrefire. Clay Shooting, Practical Shotgun and Practical Rifle are also important branches of the target shooting disciplines.

All require concentration, self-discipline and great self-control, despite what you may have seen in the movies - anger or any other emotional stress will destroy any possibility of hitting the bulls eye. Indeed any vigorous mental or physical activity, even something as simple as cutting the lawn before shooting , often destroys fine accuracy.

Target shooting is largely conducted within clubs. These clubs will usually have guns and equipment so that beginners can try the sport at minimum expense.

Air rifles and pistols are a popular and cost effective way to enter the sport, but they should not be regarded only as an entry because they can be developed up to Olympic standard ! (Britain has won more medals for shooting over the last umpteen years than for any other individual sporting event.)

"Small-bore" rifles (of .22 calibre) are generally used at shorter range such as 25 yards but sometimes out to 100 yards, whereas larger rifles (termed "full-bore") are shot at targets over much greater ranges, even up to 1000 yards.

Muzzle-loading pistols are either original antiques or modern replicas, which are loaded by pouring gunpowder down the muzzle or into the front of the cylinder of a five- or six-shot revolver, and are shot at targets over ranges of 20/25 yards.

Another branch of this popular sport involves muzzle-loading rifles, muskets and shotguns, both flintlock and percussion (caplock), again using either genuine antique guns or modern replicas. These are shot at targets over greater ranges than the pistol. Muzzle loading target rifles were originally shot at ranges from 100 to 1200 yards and the same competitions are available to enthusiasts today.

There are very many different competitions that shooters can enter once they feel competent enough - from very simple short-range club competitions right up to Olympic standard. The great thing about the sport is that you can choose your own level of competition and compete against others of similar skill. In fact you compete against yourself every time by trying to improve your last score and aim eventually move up to a higher grade.

British Olympic Shooting Team bound for Beijing 
Written by Paul Taylor 31 July 2008 

The Olympic shooting team leaves the UK this week bound for Beijing. The majority are going to Macau to be part of the Team GB multi-sport ‘holding camp’ acclimatising prior to transfer to Beijing on the 4th August. The BOA holding camps are an excellent environment in which to relax, acclimatise and start final preparations for the Games away from the venue. Jon Hammond and his coach, Kimmo Yli-Jaskari remain a little longer in Macau training before transferring to Beijing on the 5th August.

The Opening Ceremony is on the 8th August and the team compete on the 10th (Jon Hammond in 10m Air Rifle Men); 11th (Charlotte Kerwood in OT Women); 12th (Richard Faulds and Steven Scott in Double Trap); 14th (Elena Little In OS Women); 15th Jon Hammond in 50m Rifle Prone) and again on the 17th in 3x40 Rifle Men. The team return to the UK after their events or on the 18th August.

John Leighton-Dyson, Performance Director said “The team are leaving the UK in good shape and better prepared than any previous Olympic shooting team. All have achieved some noteworthy results at competitions through the year and are looking forward to the challenges ahead. All are capable of achieving good results and will respond positively to the environment and excitement of the Games. These Games promise to be the best yet and the Chinese will be putting enormous resources into making this a memorable Games, the team will be doing likewise.” 

BAE Systems - 07/07/2008

Olympic shooter Faulds welcomed BAE Systems' new training technology

The British Shooting Team has tested a piece of equipment designed and built by BAE Systems. The technology, which has been developed as part of a £1.5 million partnership with UK Sport, will assist Great Britain’s best shooters in training ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and beyond.

BAE Systems’ scientists were challenged to develop an electronic device to measure the accuracy and consistency of timing between the first and second shot in Olympic double trap shooting to 0.01 of a second.

“The solution seemed fairly simple at first, but typically, as our understanding has grown, so has the complexity required to solve the problem,” says Dr George Simpson, Senior Scientist at BAE Systems’ Advanced Technology Centre. “The system we’ve tested determines the time difference between the two shots."

“We’re able to use the system to evaluate individual performance, which we hope will prove useful to the teams in their final preparations this month.”

Ian Coley, Great Britain National Coach for Olympic double trap, comments: “We have never before been able to accurately calculate timing variations between shots in the double trap event – with shots fired approximately 0.4 seconds apart, it was simply not possible to measure manually.

“In the increasingly competitive world of sport, performance standards continue to rise and the difference between winning and losing is reduced to mere fractions of a second. As such, we are increasingly looking to technology to give our British athletes the competitive edge. This new device developed by BAE Systems will record and analyse timing and its impact on accuracy, helping to boost future gold medals hopes.”

Olympic gold medallist Richard Faulds says: “I have been searching for precision timing equipment for years and look forward to training with it over the coming months and years to enhance my performance on the world stage.”

BAE Systems has established a major five year partnership with UK Sport to help British athletes in their quest for sporting excellence in World and European Championships as well as the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The project with the British Shooting Team is just one of a number of initiatives through which BAE Systems is delivering expertise in structural and mechanical engineering, aerodynamics, hydrodynamics, mathematical modelling and simulation, human factors and materials science. Other projects already underway include work with the British cycling, sailing and bob skeleton teams.

The Olympic double trap shooting event requires competitors to shoot two clay targets, released simultaneously, with three rounds of 50 targets. Competitors need to fire their two shots as closely together as possible to ensure that both are hit.


Pakistan will be represented at Beijing Olympiad by a lone marksman
by Gul Hameed Bhatti 4 Aug 2008

Pakistan will be represented at Beijing 2008 for the third time in a row in the Olympic Games shooting event. Mohammad Siddiq Umar, a marksmen specialising in rifle shooting has been awarded a wild card entry into the Olympiad. In the same manner, the country's celebrated skeet shooter Khurram Inam took part in the previous two Olympic Games -- at Sydney 2000 and Athen 2004, but he returned home after having registered rather disastrous results.

Siddiq Umar turns only 26 years old in September this year. He belongs to the somewhat unknown Karak area in the southern North West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan, a district which is surrounded by Kohat, the currently troubled Hangu, Bannu, North Waziristan and Lakki Marwat and has a long border with the Punjab province on the east. Situated 123 km from Peshawar on the Indus Highway, Karak is known for his excellent honey production.

Siddiq has just returned from Wiesbaden in Germany, where he was undergoing training as part of a six-member Pakistan team at the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) academy.

While even the bespectacled and bearded Khurram Inam from Karachi who, at the age of 41is still active on the national circuit here in Pakistan, couldn't shoot his way to any medals in major international events, Siddiq is really not an old hand at this art. He was though a part of the Pakistan squad at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar, but didn't quite inspire confidence with the results that he finally achieved.

According to Khalid Javed, Secretary General of the National Rifle Association of Pakistan (NRAP) who is also accompanying the national contingent to Beijing as manager of the one-man shooting squad, Siddiq is our best bet at the forthcoming Olympiad. He may not be good enough to win a medal, Khalid admits, but Siddiq should be able to use the exposure to his advantage in the events that will follow in the years ahead.

Siddiq also took part in the 11th Asian Shooting Championship in Kuwait last year,where Pakistan overall performed quite poorly, and Siddiq was not able to even start his 50 metres rifle prone event.

At the Doha Asiad two years ago, Siddiq ended up at the 35th spot in the 10 metres air rifle competition and, with teammate Mohammad Ayaz Tahir, only occupied 14th place in the team event. In the 50 metres rifle prone qualification, he was 21st and 16th in the elimination round. He and Ayaz Tahir were ninth in the team contest.

In the 50 metres rifle 3 positions individual, Siddiq ended up at number 21. He and Ayaz Tahir then finished 10th in the team competition.

In the recent national shooting championship, according to NRAP Secretary General Khalid Javed, Siddiq had created national records in rifle shooting. That was one of the reasons why he was considered for a wild card participation at the Beijing 2008 Olympiad.


In the regional South Asian Federation (SAF) Games, which are now simply known as the South Asian Games, the shooters from Pakistan have pocketed a good number of medals. The standard of these Games, however, may not be upto the topmost international level. Yet, a tally of 69 medals including nine gold is nothing to be disrespectful about.

Of these medals, 11 have been claimed by Pakistan's women shooters. These don't include any gold, but there have been four silver and seven bronze medals.

The South Asian Games are competed amongst the eight member countries of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and these include India who, internationally, have been quite a successful side where winning shooting medals are concerned.

Pakistan picked up a total of 21 medals in the shooting events at the South Asian Games in Colombo in 2006. These comprised five gold, five silver and 11 bronze. This encouraged the Pakistan authorities to send a 12-strong squad -- including a female shooter Mehwish Maqsood -- to the Doha Asian Games later in the year. No more medals came their way in Qatar though, where India did very well with a total of 14 medals -- three gold, five silver and six bronze.

At the Colombo South Asian Games also, India were way ahead of Pakistan with a total of 35 shooting medals. These comprised as many as 19 gold, 11 silver and five bronze.

Shooting was not on the curriculum for the first five SAF Games. Then it made a mark at the 1991 event in Colombo. In Dhaka 1993, Pakistan claimed their first two gold medals. Inamullah Khan Gandapur won an individual medal in the free pistol and then joined hands with Sajid Iqbal to take another gold in the team event.

No more gold medals were won until the Islamabad SAF Games in 2004. Raja Mohammad Shafiq surprised Olympian Khurram Inam, who was restricted to second place and a silver, by taking the skeet gold. Khurram was, however, on the team alongside Shafiq and Ahmed Sultan when the trio won the team skeet gold medal.

Pakistan's most prolific marksman -- at least where winning medals is concerned -- Pakistan Navy's Irshad Ali won the 25m standard pistol gold at the Colombo South Asian Games in 2006. Another gold was won by Irshad in the team competition of the same event. Irshad was also part of the 25m centre fire pistol group which won the team gold.

Maqbool Hussain Tabassum, who also featured in the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, was a five-time gold medallist at Colombo's South Asian Games. He won individual gold in the 25m rapid fire pistol as well as the 25m standard pistol events. Then he joined others to win the team gold in the 25m rapid fire pistol, 25m standard fire pistol and 25m centre fire pistol competitions.


At the British Empire & Commonwealth Games level, Pakistan took part in the shooting event for the first time in 1966 at Kingston, Jamaica. Only three marksmen were sent and all finished way down the ladder in their chosen events.

From 1972 to 1989, Pakistan didn't participate in the competition, now simply known as the Commonwealth Games, as they had withdrawn their membership from the British Commonwealth of Nations. They returned at Auckland 1990, but it was not until 1994 at Victoria that a Pakistan shooting team appeared at the Games. Since then, the country's shooters including several women have competed in all the subsequent Commonwealth Games.

Irshad Ali finally won for Pakistan a Commonwealth Games shooting medal. It was a bronze at Manchester 2002, in the centre fire pistol event. Another bronze medal followed, in association with Zahid Ali, as the two also took third place in the centre fire pistol team contest.

Irshad Ali received an upgradation at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, where he won a silver medal in the 25m standard pistol competition. Both he and England's Michael 'Mick' Gault registered scores of 568, but the gold went to Gault as he had needed fewer shots to do so.

Irshad Ali was also part of the Pakistan team which won the country's first ever medal at the 10th Asian Shooting Championship in Kuala Lumpur in 2004. The Pakistan centre fire pistol trio of Irshad Ali 575/600, Mohammad Kashif 573/600 and Zahid Ali 570/600 accumulated 1718/1800 to claim the third spot which earned them the bronze medal.

South Korea with 1730/1800 clinched the gold medal and North Korea secured silver medal with 1723/1800.

Earlier, the 2000 Sydney Olympian Khurram Inam missed the 2004 Athens Olympic skeet shooting quota berth by one point. He ended up with 142/150 to be content with the fifth spot.

The Pakistan skeet team comprising Khurram Inam, Ahmed Sultan and Karamat Amin got fourth spot in the team event. Khurram, however, later won another wild card entry for the Olympiad in 2004.


Without any doubt one of the most capable marksmen in the country, Khurram Inam has generally disappointed at the international level though. He has appeared in two Olympic Games, in addition to the Asian and Commonwealth Games contests, and has generally been quite unimpressive.

He went through a frustrating ordeal on his way to a poor performance in the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006. He was unable to make the finals of the Games' skeet shooting event after getting a "raw deal" from one of the judges of the event.

A NRAP official said that Khurram was wrongfully warned on several occasions by a female judge over his posture at the skeet event's opening rounds which was the reason why the seasoned shooter flopped in the initial rounds of the competition. Khurram could just manage a low score of 41 out of 50 on the opening day but tried to bounce back with 72 out of 75.

However, his last day's performance was not enough for him to reach the finals. Khalid Javed, the NRAP secretary, said that Khurram could have won a medal for Pakistan had he not been wrongfully warned on several occasions by the Australian judge. He said that the warnings blew away Khurram's concentration and he was unable to give a good show in the opening rounds.

Khalid said that the Pakistani officials lodged an official protest with the CW Games organisers over the incident. The secretary said that the officials were shown photographs of the event, which proved that Khurram was wrongfully warned during the event.

The NRAP official said that the organisers admitted that Khurram got a raw deal from the judge and gave an apology but the move came too late. Khalid said that the NRAP had great hopes in Khurram as he had been giving 98 percent scores in practice sessions ahead of the skeet event.

At the Olympics too, Khurram couldn't do well either. He finished at number 23 in the skeet event at Sydney 2000. He sunk further at Athens four years later, managing only a joint 37th position out of 41 competitors.

In the year 2005, however, Khurram won a bronze medal in the skeet team event of the Asian Shooting championship in Bangkok. It was for the first time that Pakistan had won a medal in the Asian arena in a shotgun event.

The Pakistani team that included Khurram, Ahmed Sultan and Karamat Amin scored a total of 343 points out of 375 to take the third place on the podium ahead of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who ended at the fourth place with 342 points, just one point behind Pakistan.

World champions Kuwait took the gold with a score of 361 out of 375 followed by silver medallists Japan who finished with an aggregate of 353.

A total of 18 nations participated in the skeet team event of the Asian championship. Ahmed Sultan shot the best score of 117 for Pakistan followed by Karamat (114) and Khurram (112).


Then there was marksman Sheikh Karamat Amin Masood at the Doha Asian Games in 2006. While the highly rated Khurram Inam finished at the 24th position out of a field of 51 competitors, Karamat was tied at the sixth spot with Di Jin of China with 121 points in the skeet shooting qualification.

To break the tie, there was a shoot-off. Unfortunately, Di Jin scored +5 as opposed to Karamat's +4. Only six men would have qualified for the skeet final, Karamat was demoted to number seven. Incidentally, Di Jin eventually won the bronze medal.

Apart from a very few instances, the shooters from Pakistan have performed quite poorly in international competition. Yet, the country's marksmen featured in four consecutive Olympic Games, from Helsinki 1952 to Tokyo 1964, needless to say with disastrous results. Saifi Chaudhry and Mohammad Zafar Ahmed, more commonly known as M Z Ahmed, appeared in two successive Olympiads and could only finish near the end in their chosen events. The accompanying table is self-explanatory.

From Mexico City 1968 to Atlanta 1996, Pakistan didn't send any of their shooters to the Olympic Games. It was after a thirty-six years absence that Khurram Inam represented the country at this level.


Shooting sports consist of four disciplines: Shotgun, rifle, pistol and running target. Within these disciplines, shooting events include clay pigeon, skeet, down the line, free pistol and trap.

The disciplines may be divided into two main parts: Precision shooting and shotgun events. Precision shooting applies to rifle, pistol and running target events where shots are scored from 0-10, according to the place of the shot in scoring rings.

In slow shooting, time limits are given for the entire event. In rapid fire shooting, time limits are given for one single shot or a group of five shots.

In the shotgun event, only two evaluations are possible, "bono" where the target is broken by the shot, or "zero", where the shooter misses the target. Shotgun has no time limits but there are limits on where the target may be reached by a shot.

Most competitors shoot in a standing position. In rifle shooting, they shoot prone and kneeling. All the positions are described in the official regulations.

Firearms originated as military weapons, used along with stone throwing machines, bows and crossbows. The booming sound of early firearms compensated for their lack of precision and power.

Many changes in firearms history occurred in the early 16th century when the rifle was created. A slug was put in the bore to stabilise the bullet in the air and accuracy improved significantly.

As the muzzle-loading rifle was slow to reload, rifles were mainly used for elite sports and hunting.

In the 19th century, shooting began to evolve as a sport. One of its champions, Pierre de Coubertin, the French pistol champion, was the founder of the modern Olympic Games.

Shooting was featured in the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896. Nine different sports were placed on the programme and shooting sports had the highest number of participants in these first Olympic Games. The first World Shooting Championships were held one year later in 1897.

Shooting has been contested in most Olympic Games with the exception of 1904 and 1928. Women were first allowed to compete in 1968.

In 1984, the International Shooting Union (now called the ISSF -- International Shooting Sport Federation) introduced separate events for women. Between 1984 and 1992, the number of women's events gradually increased.

The current Olympic programme includes 16 different shooting events: nine for men and seven for women. There are three shooting disciplines presented in the Olympic programme: rifle, pistol and shotgun (clay target).

Shooting joined as an official sport in the second Asian Games held in Manila, the Philippines, in 1954.

Among the Asian countries, India stand out as a medal-winning nation in international shooting events. At the Commonwealth Games, where this competition is dominated by teams like Australia, England and Canada, India don't lag behind. They have so far won 71 medals at this level that include 38 gold. At the 2006 Melbourne Games, India won as many as 26 shooting medals, comprising 16 gold, seven silver and three bronze.

At the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, India's Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore won a silver medal in the men's double trap event. Not since Paris 1900, when Norman Pritchard took silver medals in both the 200 metres hurdles and 200 metres races for (British) India, has any other Indian taken an independent silver medal.

India are now, at Beijing 2008, in fact expecting to bring home a gold medal or two from the shooting events. Abhinav Bindra and a female shooter Anjali Bhagwat are seriously eyeing to attain the highest positions at the forthcoming Olympiad.

Szarenski shooting for medal in third Olympics
by Greg Mancina August 03, 2008

Daryl Szarenski placed 13th in the air pistol at the 2004 Olympics.Saginaw's Daryl Szarenski knows a natural when he sees one.

"I get ticked off at them," said the 40-year-old Thomas Township native.

As a sergeant first class in the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, Szarenski knows the type of time and preparation he's put into qualifying for the Olympics as part of the U.S. shooting team.

"We've got guys who are natural shooters, they don't need any training," he said. "I'm not that guy. Everything I've done comes from training and putting a lot of rounds down range."

Covering everything he's done, though, is as impressive as hitting a silver-dollar-sized target 50 meters away with a pistol, which is Szarenski's specialty. Next month will mark the third time he'll compete in the Olympics in the free pistol, still hoping to hang a silver-dollar-sized medal around his neck.

"The first one bedazzles you (when he placed 25th in 2000), and the second one I thought I had a chance to win a medal (before taking 15th in 2004) ... but this has really been my best season," he said.

Age: 40
Hometown: Thomas Township
Residence: Seale, Ala., just outside Fort Benning, Ga.
Career: Sergeant first class in the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, instructing soldiers and competitive shooting.
Shooting resume: Three-time U.S. Olympian; 13th place in men's air pistol and 15th in free pistol at 2004 Olympics; 25th place in free pistol at 2000 Olympics; 2003 Pan-Am Games gold medalist; 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2003 free pistol national champion; 1997 and 1998 USA Shooting male pistol athlete of the year; three-time collegiate All-American.
Family: Wife, Amy; daughter, Hannah, 11; son, Luke, 9.

The 1986 Swan Valley High School graduate left July 27 for San Francisco to prepare for his trip, first to Korea for last-minute training, then to Beijing on Aug. 6 for the Olympics. Opening ceremonies are Aug. 8, while his shooting competition is Aug. 12.

"I think I have a good chance at (a gold medal)," he said from his Fort Benning, Ga., practice facility, where Szarenski's day job is to train soldiers in marksmanship.

"It's right there. I'm telling myself, 'Hey, man, keep your head on straight.' ''

Szarenski qualified for the Olympics in free pistol with a second-place finish to Jason Turner of Rochester, N.Y., in May. He scored 1,849.3 points while Turner had 1,868.7. The scores came in three 60-shot preliminary rounds and three 10-shot finals.

A center "bull's-eye," about two inches across, is a 10-point shot, while shooters receive nine points for the next ring, about four inches in diameter. The pistol itself is .22 caliber, but otherwise looks nothing like what one might expect to see in a handgun.

"If you're outside the 9 ring, you might as well pack your stuff up and go home," he said.

Szarenski, who placed 13th in the air pistol at the 2004 Olympics, missed qualifying in that event by two points during the trials in March. The air pistol is a 10-meter event.

The U.S. Shooting team is made up of four men and three women. In the free pistol, the Chinese and Russian shooters are the ones to beat at the highest levels of the sport, although very little separates the top 10 shooters in the world, a club of which Szarenski is a member.

No American has won a medal in free pistol shooting since 1988, and the medal before that came in 1960.

"In the '60s we were all kind of even, and then we took over in rifle and shotgun and the Russians took over the pistol," he explained.

This will be the second trip to Beijing for Szarenski, who helped qualify the Olympic facility with a "Good Luck Beijing" tournament there in April. Judges had to certify the range for the Olympics while Szarenski finished third in the free pistol for the 2008 International Sport Shooting Federation World Cup.

His family, including wife, Amy, 11-year-old daughter, Hannah, and 9-year-old son, Luke, will not go to Beijing for the Olympics. He said they don't attend many of his events, and he doesn't want to change that routine for one of the biggest events of his life.

"I wouldn't get to see the family that much anyway," said Szarenski, who will return Monday, Aug. 18, several days before the closing ceremonies.

He may make a return trip "home" to mid-Michigan in the fall as part of a military recruiting tour, giving him a chance to see several family members.

His mother, Beverly M. Bitler, lives in Midland. His father, Frank, a former staffer at The Saginaw News, has passed away.

Daryl Szarenski is the youngest of five boys in the family, all of them shooters. Dan was an all-American at West Point, Tom shot competitively, Ross still shoots near his home in Farmington Hills, and Glenn was a club and state champion shooter.

Glenn Szarenski lives in Saginaw while Tom Szarenski is in Peck.

Daryl Szarenski began shooting as a youngster and by the 10th grade was invited to the Junior Olympics. He said he then set his sights on bigger and better tournaments "always to see how far I could push it."

Seventeen years after graduating from Tennessee Tech on a shooting scholarship and joining the Army to become a marksman, he's won everything in shooting except the Olympics, the World Championships and the World Cup finals.

"My 10th grade visit to the Junior Olympics in Colorado Springs was the first time I thought of the Olympics," he said.

Now, he lives in Seale, Ala., with his family while his job involves shooting, training and recruiting during post-Olympic tours.

"We see a lot of soldiers (in training) and try to help them shoot better," he said. "When they leave, you think, 'Maybe I helped to save his life.' ''

But for the next month or so, he'll have his eyes on just one target -- 50 meters away.

Further information
BASC http://www.basc.org.uk/
CPSA http://www.cpsa.co.uk/
NRA. UK http://www.nra.org.uk/
NSRA http://www.nsra.co.uk/
A6 Shooting Ground http://www.a6ctc.co.uk/
Bisley Shooting Ground http://www.bisleyshooting.co.uk/content/
Fife Pigeon Shooting http://www.fifepigeonshooting.co.uk/
SAC Aberdeenshire http://www.sac-shooting.com/index.html

See also
Scotlands shooting industry
UK gun politics
US gun politics
Hunting Fishing Shooting - the new target?
UK pigeons spread AIDS, malaria and mad cow disease
Olympics could add £4bn to building costsl

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