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Gary Smith

Berkshire-based amateur takes 2013 Handicap Classic title

The 14-week Handicap Classic came to a dramatic finish on Tuesday 7 May as the 60 highest scoring shooters from over 1000 entrants met at the Royal Berkshire Shooting School (RBSS) in Pangbourne to battle it out for the title.

After a nail biting final, Berkshire-based construction worker, Gary Smith was crowned champion after he shot 63 with a handicap of 36. The 55-year old, father-of-two said he was delighted to have to won the highly coveted prize of a Browning Heritage shotgun, worth £5,400. “To be honest, I am still in shock – I have never won any major shooting competitions before – just the odd small one at my local club,” he said, adding: “In particular, I have to thank one of the RBSS instructors, Tizi McPherson. The week before the final, he had advised me to cut an inch off the stock of my shotgun. I suffer from work-related spondylitis, so I was holding my gun incorrectly to compensate for the pain in my neck. Tizi’s care and attention improved my shooting no end!”

With the competition’s unique handicap system, the finalists ranged from English team members to keen amateurs and even relative newcomers to the sport. RBSS Managing Director, Dylan Williams explained that the handicap system gives an average club shot the chance to battle it out with world champions and have a genuine chance at winning. “Each shooter is given a handicap based on their CPSA average, or, if they don’t have a CPSA average, on the accrued score over 40 of the 100 birds shot on the day. This handicap is then added to their actual score, leveling out the playing field and opening it up to anyone.”

Browning’s David Stapley added: “What a great result – Gary is truly delighted with his prize. This competition is probably the only one of its kind to offer club shooters like Gary the chance to win the top gun title.”

*Photo of Gary Smith is copyright of Clay Shooting magazine