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The Roving Sportsman… A Side Trip to the Netherlands

When Geoff Farmer invited me to join him and Sandy Greener in the United Kingdom for a couple of weeks of sporting clays shooting and traveling the countryside, he included a proposed sojourn to the Netherlands to shoot in a 4-day Grand Prix Competition. It all sounded great, and the trip to the Netherlands would

When Geoff Farmer invited me to join him and Sandy Greener in the United Kingdom for a couple of weeks of sporting clays shooting and traveling the countryside, he included a proposed sojourn to the Netherlands to shoot in a 4-day Grand Prix Competition. It all sounded great, and the trip to the Netherlands would be the “crown jewel” of the trip.

During the first 8 days of my stay, we traveled the winding narrow roadways of rural England, stopping at local pubs for lunch or for tea and a snack, taking in the wonderful scenery of endless stone walls and stone homes and farmhouses and barns and shooting at 8 different sporting clays shooting grounds throughout the central part of England.

After an overnight stay and a very English breakfast of soft-boiled eggs and “toast soldiers” (toast strips for dipping the yolks), day 8 began with a practice shoot at the Coniston Hotel, Country Estate and Spa. It was a picturesque course running through pine and hardwood hillsides and open pastures and included some very tricky target presentations. Following the shooting, we drove to the east coast to Bridlington, a seaside town, where we had a lunch of fresh crab in the shell and crayfish tails — then continued south to the port of Hull, where we boarded the ferry “The Pride of Rotterdam” for our crossing to the Netherlands.

She was a magnificent vessel, and at a gross tonnage of 59,925 tons is the largest ferry in the world. It can carry 250 cars and 1360 passengers and has a cruise speed of 22 knots. As we enjoyed the smooth 11-hour crossing of the North Sea, we had a fine steak dinner and then retired to our cabin for a restful sleep in quite comfortable bunks. We were awakened at 7:30 a.m. by the Captain’s “Welcome to Holland” announcement and advisory that debarking would begin in 30 minutes.

A pleasant drive through southern Holland found us checking into our hotel in Nunspeet, and then continuing to the Dorhout Mees shooting ground, where we shot a practice round in preparation for the four days of competition which would begin the next morning. We lunched at the shooting grounds and were pleasantly surprised at the very delicious German schnitzel that we had, and then returned to our hotel.

We were not scheduled to shoot until the afternoon of the first day, so we had a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, then drove into the historic town of Nunspeet. Although it was a Thursday, several streets were barricaded to allow a large number of vendors to present their wares to passersby. Beautiful cut flowers and colorful plants were artfully displayed, handcrafted items were presented, and many of the vendors offered fresh fruits and vegetables or a large variety of fresh cuts of meats. And then, I spotted Henk and his three grandchildren!

What a wonderful sight! There stood the tall, gray-haired grandfather, watching over the three young blond-haired Dutch children — all standing in the wooden wagon that he made for them — as they eyed the candies and fudges on display. We talked to Henk for a few minutes, relating how much we were impressed with the good behavior of the three beautiful blond youths. Minutes later, Henk invited us to his home nearby to meet his wife and have a cup of tea. It was a wonderful visit that added so much to the enjoyment of the trip.

The first day of the Grand Prix shoot was comprised of 100 Compak targets. This is a target presentation very similar to the 5-stand events held in the United States. Clay birds were presented as looping crossing birds, short outgoing clays and the occasional long-distance presentation of a fast target. The only rain we encountered on the trip fell during the last half of our shooting that day and was quite heavy at times — seriously restricting visibility.

Day two, three and four had us shooting 100 targets each day — some Compak and some FITASC shot in the same manner as we do here in the US. Geoff, Sandy and I were squatted together with people from Belgium, England, Holland, and Norway. During breaks between shoots, we also had the opportunity to meet and visit with shooters from Italy, Germany, France, and Spain.

All-in-all, the shoot in Holland added another level of fun shooting and sight-seeing that created memories for a lifetime and provided invitations to shoot in some of the other European countries in the future.

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