Clay Shooting in Cyprus
British clay shooters are becoming increasingly adventurous in where they will go to shoot. Serious competitors in the international disciplines have always been jetsetters by necessity, but in more recent times many clubshots have been venturing abroad too. Portugal has been a popular destination for holiday shooters and so has the USA (any trap shot who has not made a visit to the Grand American has certainly missed something special). Sporting clays has grown phenomenally in the States in the last ten years (and offers all sorts of interesting opportunities to travelling British Guns whether you are in Pennsylvania, Texas or Florida). I can also recommend a bit of gastronomy and 'le Ball Trap' in France (Le Ball Trap merely means clay shooting there, by the by, not a specific discipline). Even Namibia has clay shooting opportunities these days.
The lastest and rather exciting European shooting venue, however, is Northern Cyprus. The Girne Gun club is located on a mountainside near Girne harbour (Kyrenia before the troubles which split Cyprus into Greek and Turkish zones). This venture - a major undertaking - was set up by three enterprising Brits: Oscar Warrington (a man with a long business association with Turkey who speaks the language fluently), Ian Huggins (owner of North Surrey Gun Club) and Colin Suckling (one of the founding members of the well known Star Gun club and owner of the Star pub). Their company Huglu Sportique is also involved in importing the Huglu range of sporting guns made by the extraordinary Huglu gunmaking co-operative located up in the mountains in mainland Turkey which produces no less than 45,000 shotguns a year.
A competition was recently organised to launch the new Girne club. It was interesting in many ways. First because the discipline was English Sporting (something quite foreign to the locals), next because it was 200 birds over 2 days (three if you include practice) and finally because the prize list was incredibly generous, reminiscent of the glory days of the late seventies. It would be hard not to be impressed by the venue, not just because of the magnificent mediterranean views, but because of the sheer effort which has been put into the club to get it off to a good start. There is a well constructed, stylish, log-built, clubhouse imported from Russia, a bar inside, facilities for food, and two porticos. One of these is on the first floor of the club house, the other on the ground floor - both perfect places to relax after shooting with a cold beer (and the local brew is excellent) or coke or to watch the action on the skeet layout which faces the incredibly blue and inviting mediterranean. It would be hard to find a prettier place to shoot or one with a more favourable climate.
Rick and Marion Stala, both well known on the UK clay scene have moved out to Girne to run the club (they live on site) and Rick was responsible for setting the ground up and organising the event together with local manager Mehmet Gunhanli. There is a valley behind the club house and it has given Rick the chance to be quite adventurous with some of the targets. Starting a new shoot is never easy, let alone one in a foreign (albeit friendly) country with your ground positioned in pretty harsh terrain. Under the circumstances they have achieved marvels at Girne. As we arrived some of the final touches were being put in place, but, let there be no doubt, this is going to be a major venue for sporting shooters in the years to come. Shooting facilities at the moment include Skeet (English and Olympic) and Sportrap as well as Sporting. There are 25 traps including 15 autos and a walk up - something which many sporting shooters enjoy - is being built. The hillside looks a little barren at the moment because of a fire, but a major planting programme should soon solve that problem
The party of English shots who had come out were clearly there to enjoy themselves and the beautiful surroundings as well as to compete. The John's family - Dave, Lee and Alison - had come from St. Austell (Lee Johns is a young shot sponsored by Huglu Sportique - he managed his 25 straight at skeet at Girne), Richard and John Horton from Marlborough, Tony and Lorraine Petrucci (who had one the trip to Girne at another competition) and there were quite a few regulars from the Star including Arthur Elvin and ground manager Colin Offen, not to mention some serious party animals including Justin Frampton, Chris Hawkins, Ian Gill and Adrian Norcombe. Most of us were all staying at the well appointed Ship Inn nearby. There were many opportunities to sample the excellent local cooking - this is a holiday desitination which we will hear much of in years to come. Many Brits are already buying second homes there. It is not hard to see why: £50,000 will buy you a detached 3 bedroomed villa.
Now to the serious business - the shooting. Scores in practice were not especially high, but Glen Unwin from Loggerhead in Shropshire, the eventual winner, managed 87 on the practice day - significantly higher than the opposition. On the first day of competition he put in an 84 which held good too (many scores were in the 60s and below) with the redoubtable Arthur Elvin managing 82. The second day of competition presented the Guns with some tough targets, Glen had the wheels fall off on one stand, but managed to hold it together to put in a 77. This proved good enough to do the job and win him the Huglu shotgun offered to the High Gun. Arthur Elvin (also on 77 on day two) managed second overall and won the superb price of a week's holiday for two on the island including airfares put up by Apple Travel. A local shooter was 3rd, J.Tanyeli, young Lee John managed 8th (and dad won a prize too) and, a certain Mr. Emilio Orduna came a very creditable tenth. A good time was had by all. I'm saying nothing about the belly dancer.
Costs at the club are: £20 per 100 for sporting , Skeet £4 a round and cartridges about £3.50-4 (they have to pay a very considerable import tax). Eating out is amazingly good value (you can get an excellent meal for £5 at the local restaurants and first class international cuisine elsewhere at roughly half the UK cost), wine and beer are very cheap too (again rougholy half the UK cost) and car hire is as little as £15 a day. Its a great country with much to explore, but do not make the mistake that this writer and the director of the CPSA did - never go out on the first day of the Turkish Cypriot hunting season. You will take your life in your hands...
Transport is by air from Heathrow, with a brief stop-over in mainland Turkey
This article was written some years back but I have included it for interest, I have also had great clay shooting experiences in Southern Africa (RSA and Namibia), nearly all the EU countries, the US and Australia.