Over two days and six grounds, all shooters would have hit a flat spot but there’s likely to be disagreement about which grounds or targets posed the most difficulty.
Statistically, there was little between the six grounds. There were a dozen possibles over the weekend with four on ground three, and three on ground two, which by consensus was considered the easiest of the grounds.
Ground six had two possibles even though it was, according to National Champion John Younger, the most challenging.
“I was a little bit worried about the six grounds, thinking it would be tight with a lot of straightaway birds and then you walk to different scenery and get another couple of them, but no, they had some brilliant tower birds — the mixture of birds was brilliant,” he said.
Last year’s champion Robert Hall also found trouble at ground six.
“I struggled with the last pad, a left to right quartering crosser and another left to right crosser that would have been 50–60 m out,” he said.
“The targets were really good: they are getting better and better every year and the terrain helped with different target presentations.”
Grade by grade the averages per ground were unremarkable, with AA varying between 18.4 (G6) and 20 (G2).
Ground two produced the best average scores across all grades and each grade produced its lowest average scores on ground six with the exception of C-grade who averaged 10.7 birds on both five and six.
Brenton Irons considered it a fair mix with enough tougher targets to separate the top guns.
“I thought they were a little harder than I remembered them and that’s not a bad thing. There were still easier targets there but it was a challenge for the high-level shooters,” he said.
The shift to a 100/50 target format over six grounds was given a strong endorsement.
“On the first night it was really hard to determine who was the outright leader because everybody shot different grounds,” Robert said.
“I think it was a great move; the National Carnival has been getting better and better and it is becoming the premier event.”
“I would say it is the best nationals I’ve shot, period,” John said.
“You can’t beat six different layouts because nobody goes back to the same target twice and you don’t have to bust a gut to alter birds; the hard work has really paid off for this club.”
Brenton agreed, saying it was “fantastic” and the best Field & Game Carnival he has attended.