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23 Nov 11 - What Warwickshire College thought....

What Warwickshire College thought....

A letter from John Timmis, of Warwickshire College, about The Schools Challenge 2011:-

On behalf of myself, fellow coach Phil Cambray and the student clay shooters of Warwickshire College can I thank the Oxford Gun Company and its many sponsors for staging 'The Schools Challenge' competitions.

This has been my first experience of your events, having only been appointed as their team coach in September 2010 after a 30 year Police career.

Like most colleges we are limited by finance, but we make the best we can of a flat field and five traps, for two hours every Wednesday afternoon. Our team is also a young one with most being only 16 or 17 years of age and few having their own guns.

The first Schools Challenge at Jericho farm was very enjoyable. The targets were all highly visible and very hittable, encouraging the students to build some high scores. The rabbit mania was very popular with some students keen to sell their siblings into slavery or to remortgage the family home just to hit that one extra target that had repeatedly eluded them . Likewise the catering and photography were top notch and in terms of pricing did not take unfair advantage of a captive audience, as I have unfortunately witnessed at some other venues.

We were unfortunately missing a few of our big hitters at this event, due to us being an Agricultural college and this event clashing with the 'lambing practical' week, when students were out on placement at farms and unable to represent us.

The team we sent were a little disappointed with their own individual performance, especially when they each counted away the few silly lost targets that collectively separated them in eighth place from the overall winning team and the vast array of prizes. It gave us something to build upon and we have since made a few trips to other grounds to broaden their experience of targets and to build upon their mental control and score building skills.

The college budget would unfortunately not allow us to compete in two events over the same May Bank Holiday weekend so, given the choice between the National Schools event at EJ Churchill's on Saturday or the Bredon Schools Challenge on Sunday, we opted to once again support the Oxford Gun Company event.

The decision proved to be a good one. Our ten students were a little phased by the presence of a few familiar faces and the TV camera alike, but after watching the 'celebrity' shooters also missing a few targets in the strong wind they dug in and delivered a fantastic one and two in the team event. For a coach it doesn't get much better than that and I will personally be wearing their victors photograph as a hat !

Its a shame that the wind played havoc with the targets but there was nothing you could do about that on such an exposed piece of land. Unfortunately its very beauty is what made it vulnerable to the wind and I know from my own experience its a difficult call as to which takes priority when you are setting such a prestigious event. My personal view is that you made the right choice of venue but sadly the hand of fate (in the form of weather) was against you this year.

The sponsorship of this event is fantastic and it is a credit to you that you managed to attract so many generous sponsors in such a difficult economic climate.

I do wish to emphasise my thanks to those sponsors who have invested either time or money in support of this Young Shots event, whether that be the big sponsors such as Bredon School, Stratstone Cheltenham, Browning, Bowman, NFU Mutual or those many other sponsors with smaller budgets who nonetheless helped out with prizes , trophies or simply time.

Every little bit of support added to the grandeur of this event and I am confident that a lot of young shots at Bredon that day will forever be remembering the 1st May 2011 for reasons other than the death of Osama Bin Laden. Indeed should any of the sponsors ever find themselves wondering what legacy they have left behind them, can I urge them to look closely at the smiles on the faces of my two teams, for it was their generosity that helped to put them there!

We had not appreciated that a Browning 525 was the Team Prize and my young shots were absolutely elated to win this for the college. The fantastic craftsmanship of the Croots gun slips also gives them a practical and personal shooting memento that will hopefully last a lifetime and in turn remind the five students in later life of the happy day they enjoyed at Bredon on 1st May 2011.

The journey home to Moreton Morrell was entertaining, the whole minibus was buzzing with laughter and euphoria, quite unlike a normal journey back when fatigued teenagers are in the main silent and sleepy.

Meanwhile, back at Moreton Morrell the reaction from fellow staff and students has been phenomenal and our achievement at your event has delivered ripples of warmth throughout the College. I'm sure we will still be on a high at the end of the term.

We are extremely grateful to you for running this event and would ask that you express our thanks to Bredon for the use of their spectacular school grounds and to the sponsors for their immense generosity.

We look forward to returning next year to improve upon our performance at Jericho Farm and also to hopefully defend our title at Bredon.

Yours in sport.

John Timmis

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