British Open 2005

Gamin’ it up in the Motherland of Shotgun

land, features multiple bays on the lower level most with semi-permanent props and vision screens. The Shield also has an exceptionally picturesque upper range consisting of once-farmed open green areas bordered by lush forest. This “little slice of heaven” as my girl called it, is owned and maintained by a longtime practical shooter Steve Pike. Steve took special pride in making sure the competitors had a good time during the match even providing a “hay ride” via his farm tractor and trailer to the upper range. My lovely bride Karen commented that Steve’s efforts and the beauty of The Shield Shooting Centre provided a holidaylike feel to our working vacation. Practical Shotgunning is not a substitute for pistol shooting, nor is it a sub-category of practical shooting. It is, my friends, as witnessed in the U.K., a complete and complex thinking man’s sport! In talking with our brothers in competition it was apparent that I had only scratched the surface on the versatility of the shotgun and the many ways to employ it on the field of practical shooting. The 2005 British Open consisted of 12 stages requiring 115 rounds of birdshot, 42 rounds of buckshot and 32 slugs. Over the 12 stages targets ranged from 11 to 65 yards and were engaged standing and kneeling, using both shoulders, and if you wanted to lead the pack, shot on the move. The international paper target, replete with its smaller scoring zones, was punctured by both slug and buck

BY PATRICK KELLEY, TY-14401 n 1997 our British brothers in practical shooting took a hit when their government squashed their access to handguns, effectively eliminating practical shooting as we have come to know it here in the United States.

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Terri Price leans out for a weakshoulder target. Terri shoots on the top-ranked European ladies’ practical shotgun team. The 2005 British Open was hosted by the Shield Shooting Centre, constructed as a dedicated practical shooting facility during the reign of practical pistol; this venue has been well adapted to the needs of the practical shotgunner. The facility, cut out of 425 acres of working farmArvid Elstroot proudly displays his F-numbered USPSA membership card. Pat Kelley reports that quite a few of the Britons had memberships in both UKPSA and USPSA.

Practical shooting has many forms, so with dogged determination and a stiff upper lip, a true stand-alone form of practical shooting has come of age in the U.K. and its name is Practical Shotgunning. My wife Karen and I made our first journey across the pond and found ourselves in the midst of the best British practical shotgunners at the 2005 British Open Practical Shotgun Championships!
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for score. Yes, paper targets shot with 00 buck with the two best hits counting for score. One needed to know one’s choke and pattern lest the call would not be “two alpha.” One stage featured two very tough slug shots on hanging clays at 25 yards along with a self-activated paper swinger. A Cooper tunnel was even in use on the 24-round slug stage. Our British brothers are not afraid of accuracy work with birdshot. Choke tight and pick off the steel “shoot” targets from around the tightly spaced and overlapping “no-shoot” steel using only part of your payload for surest results. This is the everyday stuff that the UKPSA throws at its members. No wonder they are among the best! “The best” is not an idle statement, as we shot with members of the 2004 European Championship Ladies team. The governing body in the U.K. and counterpart to the USPSA is the UKPSA. One of the movers and shakers in the UKPSA is Neil Beverley. This chap is driven to broaden, improve and

promote practical shooting in ALL its forms. Having researched, interviewed, queried, cajoled and conquered all the obstacles that go into writing a comprehensive international rule book, Neil has recently completed the IPSC’s shotgun competition rule book. In his spare time he designed a safer and more reliable steel target stand, a detailed drawing of which can be found at www.ipsc.org . Neil is currently the IPSC course reviewer for Level III and

Shooters gather around the “wailing wall” at the Shield shooting complex. above matches and knows a thing or two about practical shooting. Additionally, Neil functions as a walking encyclopedia of IPSC history and knowledge. According to Neil, shotgunning as a practical discipline made its debut in the U.K. at various Practical Rifle matches as a side event in the spring of 1979. With practical handgunning the

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HARD COPY

September/October 2005 • FRONT SIGHT

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Ade Sell strikes fear into the hearts of other pump-gunners. He’s a whiz on the Benelli Nova. Note the shell carriers sewn to a padded belt. dominant discipline at the time and little initial support from IPSC the only way to get this “new” discipline out of side match status and into the mainstream was through grass roots efforts. A group of competitors with a passion for practical shotgunning worked within the UKPSA to establish the Practical Shotgun Commission in 1981. Its duties were to promote, organize and monitor PSG events giving shotguns a legitimate place in practical shooting. I think the efforts have paid off! You will find that most sports evolve over time and PSG has too, as many of our British practical shooting compatriots will attest. Today many of the shooters involved with PSG have never fired a pistol. To them, “practical shooting” is a shotgun sport that some people play with pistols! It seems that PSG as well as the other practical disciplines have mellowed over the years and are less physically demanding. For clarity, Neil took me on a sightseeing / fact-finding trek into the back woods of the Shield complex pointing out the “Jungle Run” streambed. According to legend, stages had been run, or rather

Europe’s top female shotgunners were on hand, burning down many a course of fire. Above we see Lorna Jones, and at right, we see Helen Kenneth unleashing the fury as the timer rolls. Note how Lorna’s shell carriers do not wrap all the way around each shell. This lets her peel them straight out and onto the gun, rather than lifting them.
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swum, while enduring minor flood waters up to one’s waist! Methinks things have gotten better. Other than driving on the other side of the road, what might a U.S. practical shotgunner find different? I noted at least one loading technique that I had not seen before used by a number of competitors at the Open. It is an adaptation of the Wall Low Roll that you may remember from past issues of Front Sight. The British version has the shotgun in the same position at the waist, but the shotgun is flipped over (instead of maintaining a firing grip) and the strong hand pinches the receiver with the fingers on the top and the thumb holding the loading gate down. It may seem like a little thing, but not having to depress the loading gate with every shell makes for a fast load! Combine this technique with cleverly modified and/or created belt mounted shell holders that clip onto the shell (think of a standard plastic shell loop cut in half), this innovation allows the rounds to be stripped out of the clips as the competitor moves the loading port to meet the shells while moving the gun along the belt. Another notable UK difference was the start position. Here in the United States we have many regional, and match director-based variations of “high ready,” “low ready,” and “port

arms.” In my experience, no clear definition outside of the military has been established. Heck, it’s hard to find a consensus from squad to squad at a major 3Gun match! Enter the “at trail” start position. Defined here in the latest edition of IPSC shotgun rule book: Standing erect and relaxed. With the shotgun in the ready condition held naturally Ade Sell performing the “British Low Roll.” Ade’s verin the strong hand sion is unusual in that he puts a round on the carrier only, barrel parallel to first, then uses the next round to push it into the mag the ground, muzzle tube. Since the Benelli Nova’s carrier stays down pointing downrange when you push it down, the Nova works particularly with fingers outside well with this technique. the trigger guard and I found this start position intriguweak hand hanging naturally at the ing, and will make use of it at my Oct. side. 1, 2005 Practical Shotgun Challenge

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held in Ephrata, Wash. The Standard Auto match winner and fellow American Kurt Miller has worked his evil ways infecting the British with the weak-hand Colorado (a.k.a. the Rhoads High and Tight) method of reloading. This “foreign” technique, adopted by the locals, was put to good use by 2nd and 3rd place Standard Auto competitors Barry Sullivan and Mike Darby. A strong field of pump gunners was in the mix and it looks like the new Benelli Nova is the Manual Standard tool of choice. Ade Sell took the match win in this division in no small part due to his “two shell” version of the British Low Roll. Here is Ade’s twist: taking advantage of the Nova’s loading gate (which once depressed stays depressed) and the Nova’s extra long loading port (to accommodate 3.5” shells) he loads two shells at a time by dropping one on the depressed gate and pushing it in with the second shell. Simple, neat, and highly effective. So much so that “Mr. Weak Hand Miller” commented that on a number of stages where loading was at a premium, this pump gunner was able to out-load him! A Winchester 1300 pilot and past British Open Champion Iain Guy took his well used American icon to 2nd place. Another in the cadre of Benelli users was Graham Hill, no, not the F1 driver; although he did drive his newly-acquired Nova to 3rd place.

Kurt Miller did the Americans proud, winning high Standard Auto at the 2005 British Open. As mentioned previously, the 2004 European Championship Ladies team was in full force and rightfully took the top spots with Vanessa Duffy 1st, Helen Kenneth 2nd, and Sharon Strowger 3rd (Terri Jones is the fourth member of the team). Watching these ladies shoot made me feel less macho about my handling of the “last great power tool” of practical shooting. All demonstrated superior recoil man-

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FRONT SIGHT • September/October 2005

agement and gun handling skills which mightily contributes to their team’s winning ways! In addition to the Open division won by Richard Ingram, the UKPSA / IPSC recognizes a Modified division. Akin to the IPSC pistol modified division, shotguns may be fitted with compensators, porting and extended magazines provided the gun fits “the box.” With no specific limitation on capacity, short shells are the hot ticket for a few more rounds on board. However, POWER FACTORS are in place with 520 as the minimum floor for ALL divisions! Modified division bars the use of optical and electronic sights and the same goes for detachable magazines and speed loaders. This class was well represented at the Open with good number of competitors willing to maneuver a longish shotgun for a substantial reduction in reloading and an additional reduction in recoil. This hotly contested division was won by Neil Smith with Colin Alden in second and Dave Clegg working for third. The 2005 British Open proved to

be a worthwhile reason to make my first venture out of North America. Not only did this make for a wonderful holiday but gave me some insight into what practical shotgunning can grow to be here in the United States. With IPSC now fully behind the effort and working to promote this great discipline, Level III matches are hosted in venues as exotic as Bali, Italy, and Greece — where the 2006 European Practical Shotgun Championships will be held. This level of participation demonstrates the rest of the World’s commitment to practical shotgunning as a stand alone discipline. The accomplishments of UKPSA in the face of a potential total gun ban cannot be overstated. They found the courage to move ahead through participation and their governing capacity, broadening the appeal and world-wide acceptance of the practical shotgun in sport. For this I say thank you.

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FRONT SIGHT • September/October 2005

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