Shooters seek place on Northern Ireland squad

RATHFRILAND Clay Pigeon Club was a hive of activity on Saturday, 4 May, as shooters descended on the ground for the first compulsory event of 2013 towards Northern Ireland team qualification.

Always a significant day in the DTL calendar, the compulsories are indicators for how the international squads will shape up throughout the year. There was an added incentive for local shooters too, as the County Down DTL Championship was up-for-grabs.

The bright weather continued, which allowed no excuse for shooters, and it was shown through the turn-out with a huge total of 21 squads recorded throughout the day.

This was a great attendance, and the total of 102 guns must be one of the highest in recent years, province wide; a fantastic achievement.

Scores were impressive from the outset too; Rathfriland regular Aaron Smyth posting a score of 99/296 to set the pace early on.

The early squads saw other top scores returned, from the likes of Jason Coffey and Ronald Sloan, who finished with 99/291, and 98/292 respectively.

Scores continued to come in throughout the day; Allen Finlay posting a notable score of 100/293 to push for the prizes. Later in the day his score was to be equalled by both William Armstrong and Hendy Hume.

There was to be a late flurry of high scores with regard to high gun, too. Charlie Irwin dominated his way to a score of 99/296, narrowly missing out on the perfect 300. On the final squad too, Darren Bell was to hit the same score, forcing a three-way shoot-off to determine high gun. From this line it was Bell who held his nerve to take high gun, with Smyth finishing runner-up. As the top shot from County Down it was Aaron Smyth who took home the County Down Championship, winning the silverware for the ninth time, a superb feat. Class places were as follows;

High Gun – Darren Bell; AA 1st, Aaron Smyth (Co. Down Championship winner), 2nd= Allen Finlay, Hendy Hume & William Armstrong; A 1st Charlie Irwin, 2nd Clifford Barr; 3rd= John Montgomery & Darren Armstrong; B 1st= Robert Scott & David Megaw; 3rd Gary Harkness; C 1st, Joshua Shortt, 2nd I Cairns, 3rd Graham Thompson

The club would like to extend their thanks to those who lent a hand at the recent DTL event. Between help out and around the ground, filling and changing traps, and everything else associated with such a big event, the club would simply not be able to run without it.

100-bird DTL action will resume later in the year, with shooters encouraged to attend the Thursday night, 20-bird DTL events, held weekly throughout the summer.