James Osborne interviewed by Sanjon ( AFTE)
Curiously, to access to James Osborne has been easier and faster than doing it with some of the domestic shooters which will be interviewed in the coming months.
Some weeks ago Tesla published a remarkable interview about this important English shooter that we had the pleasure to meet in the past NEFTA Classic 2010, in Pontefrac. So when I met him, and in the interview with him I left wanting to ask many questions.
So with the invaluable help of Tesla for translations of the bombardment of questions I wanted to do, we tested the patience and willingness of James making "singing" many of the questions that I think will be able to know him and to bring closer the two shooting people ... the English and Spanish.
Who is James Osborne?. Just a guy who has won the World Field Target and some great prizes from the various English leagues? ... I think, mates, that in this interview will see in him that after the pursuit and achievement of their "trophies " gives much more value " to the trip to "Ithaca" than at the same trophy itself.
Let's talk about the wind, the UK leagues, the EV2 floating barrel, its best and most difficult shots, their experiences, their mission as captain of Air Arms, ... and many others things that I hope will be your interest.
There are 8 pages with pictures, comments, etc
I present to you James Osborne... a nice guy, accessible, tall, height of 1.90 meters and the "wind detector" cutted "zero" on its head.
Let’s go to jump some thousands of miles motivated by the curiosity and eagerness to know and to learn and share this fondness named FT.
Today we have one of the world top shooters
James Osborne, Dowry Hill FT ‘s member.
S . Could you , please, relate shortly the club history?
J. O . Web site www.leicestershooting.co.uk/index.html
Fundation date 1937 we started shooting FT there about 10 years ago
Members Not exactly sure, over 100 for all disciplines
Internal Leagues There are numerous postal leagues in which the club competes with teams, there are also individual postal leagues too, this is for the target disciplines eg 10m Pistol, rimfire etc. There is no internal FT league.
Facilities See website, but they are among the best in the area for the types of shooting available.
Location Groby, Leicestershire
Any other information up to you
Etc. The club is primarily a .22 rimfire (live ammunition) target shooting club that also caters very well for Match air rifle and Pistol shooting (which I do a bit of). There is a small piece of woodland in which we can shoot FT but it is under utilised as we are generally off shooting in competitions around the country. Air weapon disciplines have become more and more popular over recent years at the club, possibly due to the UK firearms laws.
S Some personal information ( if you agree):
Are you married?. Children? Job? .
J.O. I am 36 years old and I married Alison in 2004, or was it 2003? I’d best ask Alison!
We have a daughter Isobel who is 3 years old and she tires us out.
I work as a Clinical Technologist in a Radiotherapy Physics department which can be very rewarding. It is also very difficult to explain in detail what my job actually involves, so I won’t. Luckily my job is mainly 9-5/Monday-Friday which leaves the weekends relatively free for some shooting.
S .You are carrying the FT into the blood. Your parents are involved also into the FT . Could you tell me something about, please? .
J.O. Both my parents shoot FT. My father has, more or less, always gone shooting in one form or another, I think my mother decided that if she wanted to see anything of her family when I took up shooting she had best join in too. My father currently uses an EV2 in competition but also has an Air Arms S400 and my mother shoots a custom Air Arms S400 which belonged to me until she stole it.
Which one is the better FT shooter? Well my father won’t thank me for this but when she puts her mind to it my mother is definitely the better shot. She has beaten me on more than one occasion!
S . Yes. I remember your mother like a entry controller of the sillys set in the NEFTA Classic 2010 and attentive she was with me trying to explain by signs when I had to go .
S . James could you make a tale of your FT activity please?. When did you start, what was your first airgun . It was a gift or you asked for it?, and so on…...
J. O.. It was some friends of our family that introduced us to Field Target shooting in about 1988/89 (so I was about 14/15). The first club we belonged to was Redfearns, a club that is still going strong today, albeit at a different location. After spells at different clubs my parents are once again members of Redfearns. I am now a member of Dowry Hill FT which is the name for the Field Target shooters of Leicester & District smallbore rifle and pistol club.
I had been to a few shoots to see what went on when my parents surprised me by buying me a HW77 and a Tasco 4x32 scope, which at the time was top quality kit. Pre-charged rifles were rarely seen and high magnification scopes virtually unheard of. Most targets however were at much shorter distances than today.
I was very fortunate in that my parents were very encouraging and were willing to drive me hundreds of miles to different shoots all over the UK. From this I gained lots of experience in competition against shooters such as Andy Calpin (who helped me learn to shoot competitively) and Nick Jenkinson (who in my opinion is one of the greatest ever FT shooters). I made many friends as a result of those early days many of whom still shoot now.
I suppose an early taste of success kept me interested in the sport and luckily I have improved as the courses have become harder over the years. The equipment has also changed dramatically since I started but I think that by starting out with basic equipment on FT courses suited to that equipment has given my shooting a good foundation.
Much of my FT life has passed by in a bit of a blur and I find it hard to distinguish one season from another but I do remember certain highlights. The first highlight came in 1990 when I won the Showdown Final which was sponsored by Airgun World at the time. I beat Andy Calpin in the final round and went home with a new rifle and many other prizes.
I never used to be that consistent with my shooting, I’d have good shoots and very bad shoots but over the years (as my life has settled down) my consistency has improved. Over the years I have won most of our major domestic titles such as the BFTA Masters, NEFTA Classic and BFTA Grand Prix series. I have also won the European Championships which are held at the Midland Game Fair every year. I first won it back in the 90’s and once again a couple of years ago. This event is hotly contested as it is one of the few shoots to offer a cash prize (£600 last year) so winning it definitely feels good. It would be nice if we had a ‘true’ European title held in different countries in the future, now that would be a nice shoot to win!
S . We are following very close from Euskadi the FT rules standarized activity by the BFTA in UK and moreover they have been published in Internet for general knowledge of the shooters. What have been the most important changes in the FT rules since 20 years when you won the first Showdown up to now? ( Rules, number of competitors, courses difficulty, equipment, etc.) .
J.O. . I believe one of the most important aspects of FT shooting is the fact that the rules have not changed too much over the years. Of course new rules have been introduced but generally they are a matter of tidying up rather than wholesale change.
In the early days of the Grand Prix series it wasn’t unusual to have 200 competitors at a round but these numbers gradually fell to perhaps 100-120 not too many years ago. However recent seasons have seen approximately 150 competitors per round which is about all the shoot can cope with in a day. I think it is worth noting here that during the MFTA (Midland Field Target Association) winter league in which I compete we get 70-80 shooters per round which leads to very competitive shoots in which to keep in practice over the winter months.
As far as I can remember the maximum target range has always been 55yards. However when I began shooting FT you might have one target at that distance on a course with many more targets at 30 – 35 yards. Of course now 55 yard targets are very common and 30- 35 yard targets rare, unless they make us stand for them! There is a big debate here at the moment as to whether or not we should introduce more reduced kills into our competitions to align ourselves more with some of the European countries.
This is a tricky one due to our unique weather, and since when have we in the UK done anything the European way?
There is no doubt that the equipment we use for FT now is very far removed from the HW77 and 4x Tasco I started out with. The advent of recoilless pre-charged pneumatics first and shortly after the use of high magnification scopes are the two keys areas of improvement in equipment. Even then I would say it is the high magnification scopes that really changed the way we shoot and therefore have driven the increase in the difficulty of the courses themselves. Luckily these days competitive equipment (while not cheap) is reasonably accessible to most people.
S .You won the Worlds 2006 in Poland. What do you remember as most important thing in this Worlds edition? .
J.O. . This is a tough question and I’m not quite sure how to interpret it, so forgive me if the answer isn’t what you expect from the question. The most important thing is that I won! Or is it? The whole experience was fantastic. From travelling with our rifles, driving (and crashing) on foreign roads, the hotel we stayed at with all the other shooters, the fantastic venue, the course which wasn’t quite what we expected, the friendly people, the places we managed to visit in a short time and so on. The most important thing is enjoyment, which I have been lucky to experience every time I have shot in a different country.
S Along your sporting life , what’s the most difficult target taken you remember specially ? . And the target you are asking yourself why you missed? .
J.O. . I’m not really sure about the most difficult target I have ever taken. The last target on any course to complete a clear round is probably up there in the difficulty ratings, nerves are difficult to control but the satisfaction on hitting that target is immense. I managed to clear the course on the final day of the world championships in Poland, the last target was fairly long and to be honest I was that shaky that I was lucky to hit it, but what sticks in my memory is the reaction of my shooting partners, they were so genuinely pleased for me, and that is what makes our sport of FT worth shooting.
The target I am asking myself why I missed, that one is easy, the last one. On the whole though it is generally my poor shooting that leads to a miss and that I am afraid is the fault of the thing between my ears over which I sometimes have no control.
S What’s the most beautiful course you remember because the scenario or difficulty? ( If you have some piccies of it, it will be nice to show them here ) .
J.O. . It is impossible to pick out one particular occasion. Probably my foreign trips, I suppose the landscapes and culture are so different that it makes them stand out. Shooting in beautiful woodland in Germany and Poland and the difficult terrain on which we shot in South Africa, they are the courses that will remain in my memory.
S You won three times the GP . Could you please, tell us something about that ?. How may courses, how may targets in average each course, how’s the score system? .
J.O. The Grand Prix series is a league based on 9 shoots throughout the summer, one held in each region of the BFTA.
Each course consists of 50 targets.
The top score on the course gains 50 points for the league, second place 48 points, third 46 and so on.
Your 6 best points totals from the 9 shoots are added together for you final total. So you finish on ‘x’ amount of points out of a possible 600 and the shooter with the most points wins. It is therefore possible to win the whole GP series without winning an individual shoot (this has only happened once though). You need to shoot consistently throughout the season, that’s the key.
As for me winning it on three occasions. I just can’t help but think that the other competitors didn’t shoot as well as they can.
S And the Winter League ? Do you participate in? .
J.O. I compete in the MFTA winter league and I try and get to as many NEFTA winter league shoots as I can too.
Both regions contain top UK shooters so you can compete against the best shooters all year long.
The main aim of the winter league shoots is to try and qualify for the regions team for the BFTA Inter regional championships usually held in April. This is no mean feat in the competitive MFTA winter league.
S What’s the FT Constructors Trophy? And what does means to be the AA captain? What’s your job in this way?. .
J.O. The FT Constructors trophy is a team event that runs alongside the BFTA Grand Prix series.
Each team consists of 8 members and your score from each GP round counts for your team.
Only the top 4 scores from each team count towards the days team score and the team with the highest number of targets hit on the day get maximum points for the team league. Does that make sense?
I seem to have fallen into the roll of Air Arms FT Team captain, perhaps no one else is daft enough to do it.
My job is to select the team, but I always ask others opinions anyway, and keep Air Arms up to date with the world of FT. They are a friendly bunch at Air Arms so it isn’t a hardship keeping in touch with them. It is a job worth doing as the teams have been supplied with some lovely clothing over the last few seasons.
I am actually very proud to be the Air Arms Captain.
TO BE CONTINUE
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James Osborne interview ( 2nd. and last part )
S I have a “ bird new” talking about you are starting again to practice with a springer…..As you probably know, in Euskadi , the springer is the Queen class…Could you accept the challenge to compete with the best shooters , like Nick Murphy, Paul James or with some of the best Spanish springer shooters? .
J.O. I have been promising myself an Air Arms Pro-Sport for a few years now, and last year I finally got my hands on one. I also bought a Weaver T36 scope to put on it.
I have been using it when I shoot the NEFTA winter league shoots with differing levels of success. I am actually quite pleased with my progress although I have a long way to go before I can call my self a proficient Spring gun shooter. It is highlighting a lot problems with my technique so hopefully it wil make me a better shooter by using a spring gun.
I don’t think that when it comes to the big competitions I will be using a spring gun, I’ll stick to my EV2 for those. I am tempted to shoot the NEFTA classic with my Pro-Sport though. When I eventually make it over to Spain to shoot it could well be with my Springer.
S Let’s go talk about the training you usually are doing ….
b. Frequency and time
J.O. Type – A quick check through all the ranges and a few groups, I do try to take a few kneeling and standing shots too. I’ll also try to get the silhouettes out and shoot those as I find it more enjoyable than shooting groups.
Frequency – Rarely during the winter. Maybe once every 2 weeks for an hour if I am lucky during the summer.
Site – At my club on one of the rimfire ranges. We do not have a permanent practice range set out so if we want to practice we have to set up the range. The only time we shoot a FT course at our club is when we host a competition. There are not enough FT shooters at the club that have the time to spare that setting out a course for practice would require.
Obviously I have a practice at each competition I attend and I rely on the competitions (rather than practice) to keep my form. I shoot a competition about once every 2 weeks.
S Let’s to talk about the wind ….
Have you some rules to decide what correction to do in function of the wind speed? .
( As the answer will be YES, please, talk me with very deep details, for example: at 50 yards, wind from the left of 10miles/h . Correction?
at 50 yards, wind from the left of 13miles/h. Correction?
How do you estimate this gap from 10 to 13 miles/h? )
S Moreover to practice and to practice as much as possible , what are the main rules to be applied to manage properly the wind? .
J.O. I am afraid you will be disappointed with this answer. I have no idea how much wind is required on a 50yard target in a 10 miles/h wind. I have never measured wind speed, it is something you have to get a feel for. I can recommend about 20 years shooting FT competition in all weathers to get the basics and even then it is all too easy to get it wrong.
There are some common sense approaches to wind estimation though which I try to use. For example, if the wind is fairly light but is definitely coming from the left, aim just inside the kill zone on the left, NOT on the edge, if the wind has no affect on the pellet you will still knock it over and not get an annoying ‘split’ on the edge, but if the wind does move the pellet you still have about 38mm to play with.
Which brings me on to the next point. Accurate range estimation is critical. Get it wrong by just a yard at say 50 yards and instead of 40mm for your wind estimation to be out by you will hit high or low and only get say 20mm. Much harder I think you will agree.
Finally good technique should allow you to see your pellets land on the target (kill or otherwise) this should help your decision making for the next shot and so on.
Practice and experience, no quick solution I’m afraid.
S Talking about your rig. .
• Why do you use the float barrel?
J.O. I had a zero shift when I was shooting in South Africa (it was very hot). On my return to the UK I serviced my rifle and thought I would give it a try. The zero shift I experienced could have been caused by the scope or something else, it just made me think. It just makes more sense to me to have a free floating barrel. I wouldn’t recommend it just for the sake of doing it though, if it isn’t broken don’t fix it.
• What’s the power in your rifle?
J.O. At the moment I am using JSB pellets and I run them between 770 and 780 fps, comfortably within the BFTA limits, I don’t want to worry about failing the chronograph test and I don’t see anything to gain by getting close to the limit.
• What power do you use in the scope in the FT free positions?
J.O. My scope is a Leupold Competition series and has a fixed magnification of 40x.
S Any additional comment you like to do? .
J.O. If you have read this far you are probably ready for a break from me?
S And now the “star question”. When can we meet you in Euskadi’s Open ? .
J.O. Not this year I am afraid. My family Summer holiday has once again clashed with the Euskadi Open, and I cannot convince my wife that a shooting holiday would make a good family holiday with our young daughter.
Once my daughter starts school our holidays should be at a different time of year so hopefully then I can make it to the Euskadi Open, assuming I have enough money and time off work.
In all seriousness I would love to shoot the Euskadi Open as I have heard nothing but praise for the shoot and your hospitality, it maybe a few years away yet but it is on my list of things to do.
S As you know we’ll be very proud to meet in the next Open if possible.
S Thanks so much James for your time and courtesy to answer our questions. We hope your opinions could help a lot to some of us. .
J.O. I hope that I have answered your questions as you expected and that everything translates from my English fairly well. It is quite difficult to write down the answers and to get them to make sense in English but hopefully you will understand my meaning.
I am very flattered that people might be interested in reading about me and my shooting especially in another country, so thank you for the invitation to talk about my shooting.
Finally below is a list of the equipment I have owned/used over the years (as best as I can remember anyway). It may be of interest.
Titan Manitou (prize)
Air Arms NJR100
Daystate FTR custom
Air Arms tx200
Air Arms RN10
Logun Solo (prize)
Air Arms Pro-Target
Air Arms S400 custom
Air Arms EV2 mk1
Steyr LG110 (prize)
Air Arms EV2 mk2
Air Arms Pro-sport
Bausch & Lomb 6-24x40
Leupold 14.5-35x40 premier reticle
Leupold 18-40x40 premier reticle
Leupold 18-40x40 premier reticle (yes 2)
Leupold Competition 40x45
S&B FT scope (prize)
Weaver T36 36x40
That is quite a worrying list to look at as I consider myself to be a shooter who sticks with equipment………
The photo of the young boy holding a frozen turkey is me aged about 15! I must have won the turkey at Redfearns Christmas shoot and wanted a photo before it defrosted! Redfearns still give turkeys away at their Christmas shoot.
Isn’t it shocking how parents dress their children too?
Nice informative answers James and together with the pictures made interesting reading
AA Field Target Team 2007~2011
East Devon FTC - SWEFTA Club Champions 2006/2007/2008/2009/2010 & 2013/2014/2015
Yeh, it's something I wanted to do when I started this forum, but haven't had the time to date... will try though... nice interview
BFTA/NSRA County Coach
CSFTA Chairman/BFTA Rep