Central Southern’s FT Winter Season kicked off in fine style on the Isle of Wight at Carisbrooke FTC’s ground in October.
Justin Wood with his World’s top 10 PCP finish and Steve Privett with his World’s springer title were firm favourites for the title. Justin had held the top slot for the past 3 years in the region, but Steve had been 2nd place to Justin and others many times before. Could it be his year, or was it time for another to re-establish themselves as top dog?
The island saw Justin come out the blocks strong, but Cliff Church and Steve Privett were just one shot behind. In A Grade Mick Kelly lead the grade, with Mike Spraggett putting in a grade busting 36, 2 shots off Justin’s score. Joshua Vaughan in C grade was only a couple of shots behind that, it was looking like a tough season already. Bisley still smarting from last year’s uncharacteristic defeat took the top slot in the teams competition, with last year’s Southampton Buccaneers one place behind.
November saw the league at the other extreme of the region, North Oxon FTC. Again Justin established the benchmark, Steve close behind, but with Bisley’s Ashley Holloway in between this time. Glenn Newman on home ground lead A grade, Bisley’s Mick Woodhead B, with the Bucc’s Stephen Lucas leaving C in his shadow.
Back to the centre of the region, we had a chance to explore the Bucc’s new ground again. With new areas cut in to ensure no home advantage, Steve Privett took the lead with team-mate Cliff Church behind. Buccaneer Rob Montani lead in A, but Mike Spraggett returned to form in B, with Stephen Lucas making it two on the trot. The Buccaneers took the team honours, making up some of the difference 2 defeats had left.
The next round saw us at the same ground again, but again lots of effort had been made to break new ground, with even more virgin areas used for the course. This time Steve pressed harder leaving no room for anyone else with a perfect 40 scored hits. With myself taking 2nd place, and Ashley and Cliff joint followers, Justin’s name was uncharacteristicly absent from the top runners. The lead swapped places. It also swapped places in the teams as Bisley found themselves 3rd instead just 2nd on the day. Wendover’s Chris Coombes was a new name at the top of A, although he’d been lurking close to the top for most of the rounds. Regional Secretary Neil Long put his name at the top of B grade, but Josh in C smashed it just 2 shots shy of a clear.
It was Bisley’s turn to host and they needed to turn things around on a few fronts. Justin did that with a fine 38 but Steve didn’t leave much room behind on 37. Tim Roscoe with a rebuilt rifle came in on a 36. Chris Coombes and Rob Montani shared A on 34, a score shared by Neil Long in B. Josh once again smashed C grade, 7 targets clear of any rival. After two defeats Bisley put themselves back on top for the day, but were still a point behind overall. Was this to be a swing back, or was it just a blip? With the overall individual title and the teams title possibly ending on a tie, thoughts were already moving to how that would be settled.
Meon’s expansive ground provided the scene for what could be the crux of the season. Justin once again was strong in the lead but it was Steve’s turn to drop behind, allowing Cliff and Ashley and others in between the two. Dave Hollingdale, a veteran of the FT scene showed he still had what it took to lead A, Glenn sitting close behind. Mike Spraggett in B had another consistent top place finish, with Josh just letting Stephen Lucas in front again in C. Bisley put another win in, and there was now just one point in it going into the final round, with Bisley needing it for a tie. In AA it was yet again calculated that despite Justin’s 4 wins, his deficit overall was the same as Steve if he won the next round. All to play for still!
North Oxon took the end of league hosting honours, the low winter foliage allowing them to place targets at all sorts of angles to play with the notoriously tricky breeze off the fields surrounding the wood. Steve just couldn’t do enough to push Justin into a shoot-off, Barry Warren from Carisbrooke joining Justin with the top score of 36. Bisley’s Ashley took 3rd score in AA. Carisbrooke were strong in B, with Dave Hollingdale leading again on 34, but Glenn had done enough over the season to ensure top place overall. Although Geoff Ames in B had a strong finish with 33, Mike had also had enough in reserve to seal his winter league at the top of B. There was little doubt Josh had C wrapped up, but he had to share the grade’s top score on the day with Stephan Lucas. The Bucc’s thought they’d be in a shoot off for the teams, but Carisbrooke’s two strong scores, with the grade handicaps got in between Bisley and Bucc’s, but not to the Bucc’s favour, and Bisley once again put themselves back on the top of the team trophy, with Justin’s final win meaning he had a clean set of 5 wins counting from the 7 matches.
So that’s the winter league done with, and the FT shooters in the region will now be looking forward to picking up their trophies at the CSFTA End of Season shoot, and looking forward to competing at the BFTA national Inter-regional competition at Tondu FTC in early April. It will be interesting to see how they fair in the notoriously windy venue, but certainly the region has the strength and depth to show very well in the running.
All the scores and more are at www.csfta.co.uk but here’s a short list of the top places
Bisley Team 1 – 66
Buccaneers Team 1 – 65
North Oxon Team 1 – 56
Justin Wood – 100%
Stephen Privett – 97.87%
Cliff Church – 95.34%
Glenn Newman – 90.59%
Chris Coombes – 90.00%
Dave ‘Holly’ Hollingdale – 89.60%
Mike Spraggett – 87.38%
Geoff Ames – 82.64%
Neil Long – 81.71%
Joshua Vaughan – 89.38%
Stephen Lucas – 86.24%
Andrew Slade – 75.92%
Best Newcomers – Joshua Vaughan & Bethany Pitman
Most Improved shooter – Stephen Lucas