Childerhouse The Champion
Chris Childerhouse has been crowned the 2016 English Open English Sporting champion after an exciting event at West Midlands Shooting Ground.
Having finished on top in the main event after shooting 113 ex 120, Childerhouse claimed victory following a tense Super Final, which ended in a sudden death shoot off against Adrian Johnson.
Shooters flocked to the beautiful West Midlands countryside in huge numbers, with over 1,100 shooters passing through over the five days to make their way around a course of the highest quality, at what is undoubtedly one of the best grounds in the country. In warm, sunny weather the shooters took on an immaculate variety of targets set by Tom Jones, with something out there for everyone. View the full results here.
The competition started on Wednesday 4, with some big names going round to set the early running. It was obvious from an early stage that it was going to take an outstanding round of shooting to reach 110 ex 120 or higher, with the likes of George Digweed and Paul Wilkinson going round for 109 ex 120 and Nick Hendrick and Karl Hagan one shot behind.
The wonderful weather continued into day two and until around 4pm it appeared to be a quiet day around the course, with the highest scorecard coming in being that of Brett Winstanley, who went round for 106 ex 120. That all changed however, as first John Lee matched Digweed and Wilkinson with a 109 ex 120, before a few squads later AA Class shooter Adrian Johnson topped them all, firing an impressive 112 ex 120 to finish day two on top.
Day three came around, with the sun not shining quite as brightly, but the weather was still warm with a touch of humidity in the air. Again the majority of the day passed with change at the top of the leader board, before first Paul Foster moved into second with a superb 110 ex 120, shortly followed by Chris Daniels becoming the fourth shooter to post 109 ex 120. At this point, many observers were of the belief believing that Johnson's 112 ex 120 would be top come Sunday, with a score of 109 ex 120 or more appearing to be enough to secure a place in the six-person Super Final - or at least a shoot off for the chance to.
There were still many top shooters left to shoot, though, with one particular squad catching the eye on Saturday. Martin Myers, Chris Childerhouse and Andy Jude, three experienced England shooters, went round together and it was clear after the first couple of stands that at least one of them was set for a top score. As it turned out, all three of them did. Myers hit 108 ex 120, leaving him one shot off what was expected to be the score needed to qualify. Childerhouse and Jude, however, pretty much guaranteed their spot in Sunday's final, with the former shooting an outstanding 113 ex 120 and the latter finishing on 111 ex 120, meaning it was all change at the top of the leader board going into the final day.
Chris Childerhouse taking on Stand 4
With Childerhouse, Johnson, Jude and Foster almost assured of their place in the Super Final going into the final day, it was looking as if a shoot off was going to be needed to confirm the final two spaces and this was confirmed when Phil Easeman, James Attwood and Scott Barnett all went round for 109 ex 120 to leave a tantalising seven way tie for fifth place.
Alongside the shoot off to decide the final two places in the Super Final, an exciting two way tie had appeared to crown the Junior champion with both Josh Bridges and Sam Upton having shot a brilliant 106 ex 120 in the main event. Two other shoot offs were also taking place, with Alex Tinsley and Charles Monahan battling it out for third in Colts and David Reading and Stephen Oldfield going head to head for third in B Class.
First up, Barnett and Attwood beat off the competition to secure their place in the Super Final, before Upton beat Bridges to win the Junior category, with Tinsley and Oldfield victorious in their respective shoot offs.
The Super Final was then upon us, with a huge crowd gathered to watch the six men taking on 30 targets over three stands, with the final one seeing them shoot off a balcony on the side of the clubhouse. Scores from the main event were carried through and after a superb showing of skill under pressure from all six shooters, we were left with ties for all positions - Foster and Barnett were tied for fifth, Attwood and Jude for third and Childerhouse and Johnson for first, meaning yet another shoot off was required.
First up, Barnett beat Foster by nine shots to six to claim fifth in the Super Final (and second in AAA Class), before Jude beat Attwood (eight shots to seven) to claim third overall, leaving Attwood top of AAA Class. It was then time for the big one to decide the Overall High Gun, with Childerhouse and Johnson going head to head in tense conditions. The tension only built further as with both shooters breaking six of their ten clays to leave us needing sudden death to decide the winner.
Childerhouse shot first, scoring a pair which was matched by Johnson. After both scored a hit and loss in the second round, you could cut the tension with a knife. With emotions high and the crowd in stunned silence, the pair took on their third round of sudden death, with Johnson unable to match Childerhouse's pair, meaning Childerhouse was crowned champion.
The final Super Final scoreboard
Having received his award, Childerhouse said "it feels amazing. I've been shooting for fifteen years and I've won the English as a Junior and made Super Finals before but to get one done eventually feels really good and hopefully we can do a few more."
"The Super Final was excellent; when it gets to sudden death it could go either way. Adrian shot so well, as an AA Class to shoot 112 round there and be leading for a couple of days before I pipped him with 113 was amazing. It was really good fun and it was nice to have a good bunch of other competitors in the final."
"I thought it was an excellent course, it was a very tough course but probably one of the best shoots we've shot in a long time. Hodnet always put on a good shoot and hopefully they'll have many more majors here."
In the Ladies category, Lucy Pitt was victorious after shooting an outstanding 100 ex 120, to finish five shots ahead of Rosie Brumby (95 ex 120) in second, who in turn was two shots ahead of Cheryl Hall (93 ex 120) in third. Karl Hagan was crowned winner of AA Class after his 108 ex 120 and Kim Wan won A Class with the same score - both fantastic displays of their shooting ability. Matt Peddle won B Class with 99 ex 120, whilst David Waites shot an incredible 98 ex 120 to finish top of C Class.
Amy Easeman cleaned up the Colts categories - winning both the Overall Colt and Lady Colt titles - whilst also winning the Parent and Child award with her father Phil. Georgia Moule won Lady Junior after her 83 ex 120 with Arnie Palmer winning Veterans by countback, having been tied on 107 ex 120 with Carl Bloxham. In the disabled categories, Jamie Gutteridge won Disabled Standing for his 96 ex 120 with Adrian Last winning Disabled Sitting for his 84 ex 120. Mark O'Dowd won the Side By Side category after shooting 85 ex 120.
Alongside the shooting prizes, there were two random prize draws with James Robinson wining a pair of Pilla glasses courtesy of Starkey Headsets and RT Meredith winning a free weekend's hire of a Toyota Land Cruiser courtesy of Vantage Motor Group. We thank both of these companies for their support.
James Robinson with Tom from Starkey Headsets
Teague Chokes also kindly sponsored a daily prize on the Pool Shoot, with each day's winner receiving a set of Teague Chokes worth £300, alongside a cash prize.
We would like to extend our gratitude to our main sponsors - Perazzi, Eley Hawk and Promatic for their generous support and their help in making the English Open such a fantastic competition.
Finally, and most importantly, we would like thank Tom and Deb Jones and all their team at West Midlands Shooting Ground. They were incredible hosts and put on a superb championship.