In this our second year running the Middleton Clay Day, we were again blessed with beautiful weather! The blue skies dotted with scarce cotton wool like clouds hosted the sun whose rays blazoned down upon the guns and their guests, happy to soak up the warmth obliged upon them. Not to be out-done by the favourable weather the breathtaking views from the pinnacle of the shooting ground boasted their way to the top of conversation, by showing off lush meadows with such clarity. Those involved in the competition were offered an exclusively rare opportunity to be granted leave from public roads to seek some of the hidden glories of the Birdsall Estate where the team from E.J. Churchill, with a great deal of consideration, had placed 5 simulated shooting stands.
From the frantic scurries of the rabbit stand to the range testing high partridge stand, twenty two teams divided into five squads were escorted around the private shooting course, unique to this competition.
Having made the usual morning pleasantries to each other, while nourishing themselves with bacon sandwiches and home-made croissants dripping with jam, the teams had to converse on more serious matters such as on which stand to play their “Joker” to double up on the points scored and discuss tactics to ensure maximum clay breakage.
Clays were pulled, shots were fired and the echoes of bangs were amplified around the valley akin to the rumbling thunder we experienced during set up in the week prior to the competition. Then silence. For only a few moments as the hubbub soon descended back to the marquee sitting in front of the exquisite Birdsall House, surely soon to be the most fancied destination for the discerning engaged couple contemplating a distinguished wedding venue. The bar was bulging with visitors keen to quench their thirst and revel in conversations on how they had played each stand, ribbing each other over the easy misses or congratulating the outstanding accuracy.
Having suitably quaffed until refreshed the guests sat down to be indulged with a delectable lunch of delicate lobster complimented with a robust serving of rare roast beef followed by homemade meringue nests with fresh fruit. This preceded the short auction, raffle and most important of all, the prize giving.
Last year’s winning team were back and were clearly aiming to stay at the top of the leaderboard, although with two of their key members out of the country there were murmurings it was more of an open race. Mytum Clay Team could not have chosen two better substitutes and they sportingly defended their title and remain unbeaten. They generously donated their winning prize money back into the coffers for the causes the competition is supporting but graciously received a bottle of champagne each. A special mention must be given to the Wrecking Crew who came a very close second by a mere four clays. Perhaps it will be all change at the top of the leaderboard next year..............?!
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