Only a few months till the next one... The ' nefta classic ' is what its called & a classic is certainly what it turned out to be , as the north east field target association staged the 20th anniversary edition of this mind & body draining marathon airgun shoot , on the may bank holiday weekend 2010 . Its the only shoot of its kind that involves tackling a gruelling 40 shot ft course & an even gruellingerer 40 shot silhouette pod over 2 days for a grand total ex 160 . Held once again at pontefract a.r.c's ground & overlooked by Pete " holey moley " milner , the resident ponte guard dog & his band of dandy lads . In fact we dubbed him pied piper pete from ponte ,as the couple of months leading upto the shoot he had his ' rat pack ' scurrying around taking branches out & doing whatever was needed to make fridays set up day as easy as possible . By the amount of work we had to do on the friday ,it was apparant they had all been extremely busy . You cant beat forward planning , thanks a lot the ponte tribe . The weather forecast over the weekend was a bit unsettled , & day 1 started bright & quite sunny with not much of a breeze at all to give people that had a disasterous round an excuse , by blaming the wind . We had a bit of a shower at lunch time but the usual sneaky ponte wind gremlins never materialised . By the end of day 1 everyone that i spoke too seemed to be having a good time , even though quite a few had shot below par on sillies , myself included . You always get a few smart arses though dont you ?& once again the top 2 silhouette scorers from last year , matt hurst & current world ft champ james woodhead had filled their sillies basket to near brimming with a 37 apiece . Fine shooting . The ft course was'nt too long & with the wind leaving us in peace for a change the scores were high , with cliff church from london , john costello , steve page & a few others posting 39 ex 40 to lead on ft after day 1 . We were blessed with 4 overseas shooters again this year ,with jesus dragging his spanish shooting pal, jose along to tackle the classic with his tx 200 .With andras from hungary & irish lad conor making up the quartet & they all looked to be having a wail of a time, especially conor , who had rattled a 35 in on sillies . The campsite was chocker bock on saturday night but no one got much sleep as it was a bit nippy . All the campers thought that they had been amongst the first people to witness the tapping sound of the very rare , nocternal 'yorkshire lesser buck toothed woodpecker ', but as sunday morning broke they were disappointed to learn that it was in fact anstons very own kev cresswells teeth chattering that had kept them awake as he slowly froze to within an inch of his life . Bless him ! As day 2 kicked off the temperature was still well below the norm at 6 degrees & didnt get much warmer throughout the day. The 1st ft squad got started at 9 & i was amongst them , the wind was back to its usual scampish self & i came off the course happy with 4 shots missed , until ian taylor sauntered by & casually slipped out that he'd only missed 1 . Excellent shooting by ian once again , considering his dad passed away only a few days before . that score must leave him as main contender for top ft shooter as he only missed 2 on the 1st day . Whilst the first ft squad had been shooting , the sillies were being tackled by another batch of shooters & joint overall leader from day 1 , john costello was amongst them . He came off with a 39 ex 40 which must put him in pole position for the overall title .All he needed now was a mediocre score later ,on the ft course to claim top spot . Some good tussles were taking place in all grades as shooters placings changed as the weekends events unfolded . To celebrate the 20th anniversary we put on a free hog roast for all competitors & very welcoming it was too, what with the weather being like it was Throughout the weekend all the prizes had been on show for all to feast their eyes on & i couldnt believe how generous the trade had been once again, considering the present ecenomic climate . Air arms , Webley & Brocock had all donated a rifle apiece, & scopes , mounts , slings ,targets , pellets & all manner of other shooting related gear had been very kindly donated to boost the prize fund to a total in excess of £2500 . To the 20 or so kind airgun trade sponsors , i personally & the rest of the nefta classic organisers & competitors are once again extremely grateful . As day 2 drew to a close all eyes were on james woodhead . He was level with john costello after day one & earlier posted a 34 on sillies which left him 5 shots adrift of john & having to shoot out of his skin to have a shot at the title . Both shooters were on ft at the same time & as the jungle drums were pounding back to stats , their scores showed that the pressure had got to them both as john ended up 11 targets down & james 9 , so this meant james was out of the running . Everyone took it for granted that john had just about scraped it , even after his below form performance on ft , but sometimes , every now & then a little surprise crops up & the shocked , confused , bemused , excited & yes , surprised look on my face must have told a thousand tales , as i was told by trev ryan to get my gun for a shoot off with john for overall top dog title . Phew , & relax . yeah right ! Composing myself as best as i could after such a shock we wished each other all the best & went into shoot off mode . When you have done a sport like ft as long as i have &, without trying to sound too cocky , the trophies that you may win along the way seem to mean slightly less as they accumalate , but the buzz that i personally get from a shoot off situation such as the one that john & me were to contest is priceless .! Anyway , the shootoff was to be over 4shots at 2 targets at 43 & 52 yards 2xsitting & 2x kneeling ..With a crowd of 60 or so spectators , john was to go first & he duly flattened both targets sitting then very uncharacteristically missed the long un kneeling . I missed the long sitter & nailed both kneelers to leave us level pegging . Next up was a standing lane comprising of a 44 & 33 yard target & john casually slipped out that he had missed both targets as he went around the course earlier .He was like a robot as i watched his perfectly controlled trigger technique release a couple of corking shots to flatten both targets .I must have looked like shakin stevens as the pressure built & i missed the first one which was enough to give young john his first well earned major title in ft ( & the first of many im sure ) .At only 19 years old john was'nt even born when the classic was started & i was well chuffed for him , well done marra ! After 2 ultra consistent 37's on sillies, matt hurst ,claimed top spot for the 7th time in 9 years . unbelievable ! He also carted a barrow full of pellets , donated by airammo to get more practice in, as his prize . Ian taylors 77 ex 80 on ft saw his name engraved on the top overall ft trophyfor this year & he also had to weigh his car down for the journey home with another load of pellets . Well done ian !. Young mitchell tomes had to relinquish his top junior title from last year as he finished 2nd overall to cameron casey from essex whom had been my shooting partner over the 2 days & i must say it was a pleasure to shoot with him . Thanks cameron & good shooting ! A couple of mega sessions on the sillies earned nick murphy the top recoiling title for the 2nd year in a row . Great shooting nick! The luckydip 3 person team event in which all shooters scorecards are put in a hat & drawn out at random was taken by snatcher banks , jon cox & me . The hard fought 4 person winning team was mopped up this year by the southern crew of woodhead , forster , church & farnworth . well done lads ! The pairs had the ever consistent ian taylor & conor from ireland just nudging ahead of mark ' budgie wing ' stenton & me to take the 2010 pairs honours . nice going ! Onto the individual events & c class had dean jukes from wales steaming to victory & he looked well pleased with his trophy & bsa tactical gunbag as his prize . Sporting ft was taken by richard baker shooting his feinwerkbau . Mark brewitt claimed b grade bragging rights & for his troubles carried home with him a lovely stock dipped with an exclusive design from hydrographics . A class was once again taken by james griffiths who had a bag full of prizes including a top class walnut stock that custom stock had very kindly donated . Obviously , young john was lucky 'ahem' to win AA grade & he also won the overall classic champion trophy & a shed load of prizes including a beautifully grained air arms s400 . Brill shooting john ! After the shoot prizes have been dished out , we have a raffle , .where all scorecards are drawn out at random . With 2 rifles on offer most competitors stayed behind . The first 2 cards out are put to one side until all the other prizes have been claimed . As goodies were clearing from the table one by one the tension mounted . As the 2 secret score cards were revealed , freddy '9 fingers ' stanbridge ran up ( or as fast as his little legs would go ) to be presented with a lovely walnut stocked sidewinder from webley & the other rifle winner was chris ascough who looked delighted to win a stunning side bolted walnut stocked prestige cub . Once again i'd like to thank all the generous sponsors , pontefract air rifle club , all the unsung heroes that just go about their business when asked to do a job & would cringe beyond belief if their names were mentioned here , wouldnt they , sue falconer , mel rogers ,pat & harry & all the others , thanks ! Next years nefta classic is to move venue & will be hosted by emley moor , & im sure that with a ground as good as they have to exploit , its going to be a belter . I think it'll probably take 11 months to recover from this years classic but rest assured we'll be aspiring to make the next 20 editions of the nefta classic even more memorable than the first ! Andy.