Clay Shooting magazine’s Classic event, one of the biggest independent clay shoots in Europe, is growing for 2018, now encompassing five full days of high-calibre competition.
Taking place at Southdown Gun Club & Shooting School for the second year in a row, the event will break new ground when it takes place on 30 May – 3 June this year, retaining all the best-loved aspects of the Classic you love as well as providing a revamp to ensure the event keeps the pace with modern trends in course design and event formats.
The biggest news is that there will be a finals day for the first time in the history of the Classic. The two top performers from each of the four days of the main Classic – Wednesday to Saturday – will return on Sunday for the final. So, unlike in previous years, no one will know the winner until the very last shot is fired. There’ll be finals across all the classes and categories, with payouts going down to eighth (i.e. every finalist) across the board.
A finals day means all the attention is on the winners, as the rest of the shooting dies down around the ground and the crowds gather to watch the best of the best in action. It also means no uncertainty about whether shooters have to return to the ground to collect a prize – they’ll know at the end of the whether or not they need to come back for the final.
Southdown have also promised brand-new ground on both of the event’s layouts. Instead of using the traditional Valley and Lane layouts, both the courses in this year’s Classic will start on part of the Lane and extend into land not normally used for shooting – meaning there are never-before-seen stands and target presentations in store on both halves of the Classic course. Clay Shooting described this as “throwing the form book out of the window” and levelling the playing field among Sporting shooting’s elite.
Finally, the squadding system is also being revamped for 2018, once again with the aim of producing a level playing field for all entrants. Instead of starting with a full course, the Classic will see every competitor begin on the same stand and progress through the competition in the same order.
There are several advantages to shooting in this manner. First off, no one will be given a psychological advantage by being allowed to start on an ‘easier’ stand. Plus, with everyone shooting in the same order, the course can be designed with this in mind – building up the difficulty as the stands go along for the most fulfilling Classic experience. And with shooters tackling certain stands at the same time of day, stand locations can be optimised to reduce the effects of the sun. Shooters can specify what day and time they’d prefer to shoot in a ‘first come first served’ manner – entries are being taken quickly as a result.
The format of the main Classic still comprises two 75-bird shoots across Southdown’s pristine countryside. Bob Clarke will set the targets once again, and he’ll be thoroughly reworking the usual stands on offer to make it almost unrecognisable to the Southdown regular.
Southdown is a ground with a long history and one that continues to grow in stature. It has recently been crowned Nation’s Favourite Shooting Ground 2018, making it the first ground in history to win the coveted award two years running. And it continues to expand its shooting school offering as well as putting on a number of well-attended events, the Classic and the Benelli Sp’Auto among them in 2018.
Prices have been frozen too. Entry to the main event remains just £85, with Services shooters able to enter for a discounted rate of £49. Unlike in previous years, Services shooters can shoot on any day, not just the first one. Pool shoot prices will be announced closer to the event.
WHAT THEY SAID
Paul Pettengale, Clay Shooting’s consultant editor, said he was looking forward to witnessing the magazine’s and Southdown’s plans come to fruition on 30 May – 3 June. “What’s important to me is that Clay Shooting magazine really gets involved in its community,” he said. “We’re nothing without the clay shooters who read the mag and we want to give them something back. So when I came on board the Clay Shooting editorial team, advancing plans to make the Classic better than ever was one of the first things on my agenda.
“We couldn’t wish for a better location than the one Southdown offers. It’s demonstrated its calibre countless times, and really has the capacity to do more than simply throw targets in the air – it’s the perfect venue at which to hold an aspirational event that really celebrates clay shooting as a whole and the industry that supports it.
“And Greg, Shaun and Helen really live and breathe shooting, and will bend over backwards to put on a fantastic event. As will I and the rest of the Clay Shooting team.”
Shaun Miller from Southdown added: “It was exciting to host the event last year, and having the opportunity to host the event for the second year running is amazing. I am looking forward to making the event bigger and better in 2018.”