B.A.S.C. World .410 Championship 2005

By Marshall Williams.


The 2005 version of the .410 World Championship was shot at its new permanent home, Litts’ Treetops Shooting Grounds near Cardiff, Wales.  The facility is quite nice and includes a club house with toilets and kitchen.  Set up on a moderately steep hillside are a number of stations with multiple automatic traps allowing different target presentations.  My guess is that there are 12 stations, but I did not see nor count all of them.  Only five stations were used in the .410 match and each was set for doubles. The .410 competitors shot five pairs of identical doubles at each station.  There also was a concurrent large bore event for 12 and 20 gauges which used five other shooting stations, and one station was set up for a pool event. 

Station one had a simultaneous “squirrel” and low incoming target.  The “squirrel” was a rabbit target which was rolled down an inclined ramp to the competitor’s left.  At the same time, a standard clay was released somwhat to the shooter’s left from a hill opposite the shooting stand. It angled slightly downwards towards the shooter and landed some yards lower on the hill than the shooting station.  Squirrel was deceptively slow and no more than about 12 yards distant.  Incomer could be shot as close as about 15 yards if one waited until it nearly hit the ground in front of and below the shooter.

Station two had report doubles with the first target going away from about five yards to the right of the shooter and the second going in the same direction but from thrown from overhead and behind the shooter.  Neither shot was necessarily more than 20 yards.

Station three had a flying clay which came from under some trees a few yards to the shooter’s left and quartered across in front at a range which appeared to me to be little more than 10-15 yard shot.  On report, a moderately slow rabbit started on the left well below the shooting station and rolled to the right.  Again, my guess is that it was at most a 15 yard shot.

Station four was lower down the hillside and shot upwards.  A low fast target started a few yards to the shooter’s left and went nearly straightaway up hill angling slightly to the right.  It was followed by an incomer from high left.

Station five was a report double of high crossing shots.  The first was left-to-right followed after an awkward interval by a right-to-left.  These appeared to me to be the longest shots on the course, but were probably no more than 25 yards away at optimum shooting moment.

Guns provided were of three kinds. The gun at station one was a “Lincoln,” made in Italy and following generally the Browning design with a large underbolt.  At station two, three, and I think at five, there were Beretta Silver Pigeons, a typical Beretta with the drawbolts and shallow frame.  If memory serves, Station four had the Browning Citori.  No one whom I asked seemed to know what the chokes were in any of the guns.  My wild-eyed guess is that they ran to full and modified, although straight cylinder or Skeet would have been entirely adequate for any shot presented.

The only ammunition for sale at the shoot were Eleys .410s with fiber wads and roll crimps.  Both 2 ½ inch shells loaded with ½ ounce of shot and 3 inch shells loaded with 5/8 oz. of shot were on offer and no distinction was made as to which load one used.  Naturally I chose the three inch shells.  

The only shot size available was #6s, in my opinion, far too large for this kind of shooting.  When I asked the shoot staff about this, I was told that .410s are so hard to find that they had to take what was available.  

I noticed many shooters used other brands including Fiocchis with 11/16 oz. of shot.  

The Eleys were of very poor quality for factory ammunition.  I estimated that on firing, the front half inch of the shell was torn off of 10% of the Eley shells.  I heard numerous low noise-level report suggesting that powder combustion was irregular at best.  One fired shell that I examined still had the wad inside the case mouth and showed unburned powder grains on top of the wad.  Clearly powder gases had pushed past the wad before the powder was burned.  

Several shells stuck in chambers so tightly that the extractor/ejector pulled off the brass, leaving the shell case in the chamber.  I started the match shooting Tim’s Remington 870 pump.  On my second pair, when I pumped the gun, the shell in the magazine failed to feed.  It is possible that I short-stroked the slide, but I did not think I had done so.  To avoid any further problems, I used the club guns for the rest of the match, and used the Lincoln O/U for the rest of the shots on that station.  When I fired this shell in the o/u, the brass pulled off and left the case wedged so tightly in the chamber that we had to improvise a tool to extract it.  

I also saw several punctured primers.  This, of course, can be caused by a firing pin with too sharp a point, but added to the obvious problems.  I would not trust the Eleys at all.

Speaking as a man who scored just 26 of 50 targets, I critique the match as follows:  The shots were neither difficult nor long. but no one scored above 46. That is all to the good.  However, no 50 target match should consist of just five pairs of doubles with each pair repeated five times.  It quickly becomes as unexciting as shooting bullseyes with a rifle. Throw in a single or two, reverse the order of the targets between pairs, but do something to keep cobwebs from growing on the shooter’s brain.

Some practices were noticeably different.  For example, the shooters carried their guns in cases between stations.  The common practice in the US is to leave the cases at the car and carry the guns with the actions open.

I mean the foregoing to be an objective assessment of the technical aspects of the match, and I hope it appears that way. It should not reflect in any way on the members of BASC who worked so hard to put together a good match, nor the sponsors. All of them were as kind, helpful, and hospitable as they could possibly be. Most of all, they deserve a great deal of credit for putting on a special .410 competition. I truly enjoyed the opportunity to travel to Wales and to shoot the match. It was a great experience and I recommend it to anyone who loves the little .410s