Round 4 of the Directors Trophy and the turn of the DTL shooters to represent their county at Nottingham & District Gun Club in the East Midlands Intercounties DTL.
Seven counties managed to put a team in of some description, with just Bedfordshire failing to make it to the starting line, and I have to say it was one of the most enjoyable days’ competition I have been involved in during my time as the East Midlands General Secretary.
The weather was as good as it could get, a light pleasant breeze, high cloud that burnt off during the course of the day to reveal azure blue skies, the perfect backdrop, there could be no weather related weather excuses today.
The home team of Notts got things underway at 8-30am sharp with a team that on paper looked well capable of clearing up the glassware at the end of the day.
Notts captain Curtis Woolley got Notts off to the best possible start recording the perfect score of 10/300, and was ably backed up by Lee Wilcoxson 99/295, Paul Meakin 99/294, Lee Clements 99/292, Pete Armett 99/290, Granville Hodgkinson 99/289, Steve Hilton 96/285 and Gordon Hodgkinson 93/272, to leave Notts on a team score of 1760/1800.
Right on their heels in the following squads were local rivals Lincolnshire and the scores were totting up nicely, and it was quickly evident that every single point was going to be vital. In the final reckoning the Lincs lads squeezed past Notts by just three points to finish on 1763/1800, Steve Smith top scored for Lincs on 100/298 with good support from Mark Cumberlidge 100/292, Norman Eaton 99/296, Paul Smith 98/293, Andy Harvey 97/290, Mark Shaw 97/290, Mick Shaw 97/288 and Steve Whiting 95/281.
Lincs and Notts then had to sweat it out to see if they could cling to their final placings, and despite a scare from a strong Norfolk team finishing on 1757/1800, Lincolnshire held on to victory with Notts as the runners up.
In ladies it was another close call, Notts set a good target for the rest of the field to shoot at, finishing on 552/600, Sarah Odam top scoring on 97/281. But again the following Lincolnshire ladies crept past in similar fashion to the seniors to take the lead, Tracey Bridge top scoring on 96/285 to give Lincs a finishing total just one point in front. To be honest I think most people thought that was the title in the bag for the Lincs girls until Michele Conway of Cambridgeshire, who by her own admission was shell shocked to put in a PB 99/289. That on top of the good work already done by Hazel Whiten 95/270 and Liz Cook 72/205 was enough to give the Cambs ladies victory on 559/600.
In Vets it was the closest of competitions, Ken Rimington got Notts off to a flying start with a 100/297 to give them a team score of 584/600, Mick Feather getting the other score to count with a 98/287, but for the third time in the day Lincolnshire eased past Notts by one point, Steve Bridge top scoring on 98/293, with Brett Aisthorpe next best on 99/292. But like the ladies’ competition there was more to come, Leicestershire got three good scores in the bag, and then had to sweat it out waiting for their 4th team member to shoot later in the day. It got so tense that team captain Mike Brookes was forced to watch from behind the trees as it almost became too unbearable to watch, but he didn’t need to worry as the Leicestershire Vets inched over the winning line by just one point. Keith Taylor top scored on 99/293, with Aggy Paphitis 98/293, Mike Brookes 98/288 and Keith Mault 97/287.
In a day reserved for close finishes the closest of all was in the juniors, Notts kicked things off with a team score of 589/600 and a little later in the day Leicestershire matched it, not only that but Joe Booth of Notts and Alex Harris of Leicestershire were locked together for Junior High Gun, Alex recording 100/297 and Joe 99/297.
In the individual shoot off it was Joe that prevailed recording a 25/75 to give him the title.
The team shoot off was a very tense affair, with the Leicestershire Team Manager barely able to watch she was so consumed with nerves, but it was Notts that came out the victors, so its many congratulations to Joe Booth 99/297, Jack Richards 100/292, Tom Tristram 98/287 and George Lewis 98/292, commiserations to the Leicestershire lads and a relieved person that shall not be named.
A couple of final mentions, Northants Junior Henry Collins was drafted into the Northants senior team and in his first DTL competition recorded his first ton with a PB of 100/298 that would have won him the Junior High Gun, incidentally he managed to get back to Northampton Shooting Ground later in the afternoon and won the HG in the Sporting with another PB of 98/100.
Last and certainly not least, well done to a star of the future, 10-year-old Jack Brazier of Lincolnshire who recorded a new PB of 96/278.
The Directors Trophy now moves to Northampton next Sunday for the All Round.