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Matthew Burns

PRINCE’S TRUST CHARITY CLAY SHOOT AT BLEASDALE

A Sedbergh School team of four boys represented one of only two schools to enter The Prince’s Trust Charity Clay Shoot this week, organised by the Royal Berkshire Shooting School, at Bleasdale. Competing against adults, the team came 8th out of 18 teams. 

Sedbergh School was invited to enter a team by Duncan Thomas, from the British Association of Shooting and Conservation (BASC) in this area, who is keen for young shooters to get involved. Charlie Stephenson, Charlie Cowen, Josef Westgarth and Lawrence Wallace made up the School team.

Lawrence Wallace, Upper Sixth, Hart House, said: “We arrived, we were expecting about 20 cars but to see a full road packed with cars, that’s when we realised we would have to shoot straight to have any chance of doing well. After the safety briefing we were driven around in brand new BMW 4x4s from drive to drive.”

“We arrived at the first drive to look up at the guns already shooting and to realise we couldn’t actually see the clays because they were so high and the cloud was low. Another team, from London, joined us and we let them shoot first whilst we loaded for them; this way we could see what we were going to be up against. This drive was simulating a mixture of pheasants and partridge so there were some testing birds. Everyone shot well so we were off to a great start. 

“The next drive was grouse – low and fast. We went first on this drive to make it fair and we put up a good constant show.  By the time we finished this drive the drizzle had turned to light rain so we were glad for the comfort of the car to take us to the third drive, called ‘Crazy Quakers’.”

“We knew what we were in for. The weather had deteriorated down in the valley where we were. Our opponents stepped up first and afterwards, we knew what to expect. We got off to flying start and I don’t think between us we missed more than 25 out off 200.  But what Joe Westgarth and I failed to realise was that you could draw more blood shooting clays than you do playing rugby, as we got hit by bits of clays we had annihilated a few seconds beforehand. There was time to grab another cup of tea before we headed off to drive 4.”

“We shot first this time and we had been told they came at a good height but fast. We started well with everyone shooting well but with constant flushes coming, it was getting the cartridges in the gun fast enough, which was the problem. We got through and we were all confident for the last drive.

“We had heard beforehand from other teams that you needed binoculars to see the clays, they were that high, but before we got to the stand we had pork pies and sausages and this gave us the energy to walk to the next stand which was through a wood.

We arrived to see the cages on the side a rather steep valley side and to then find out the clays were coming off the top. But luckily by this time the fog had lifted and the rain had stopped so we had fantastic shooting conditions. The clays came very high and very fast, swinging was the key and that’s what we all did, we all shot extremely well and finished on a high. 

The boys met several OS parents and many people mentioned how it was great to see a school team involved. There were 18 teams entered and 200 clays fired on each stand resulting in a total of 1000 clays per team.

Sedbergh came 8th out of 18 teams and shot 735 out 1000 clays. The winning team shot 891 clays. The Sedbergh School team hit rate was 73.5 per cent. “None of us had picked a gun up since the end of the game season and all bar one other team, we were competing against adults.”

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