Still fire in the eyes of sharp-shooter John

Shooting star John Bidwell is pictured at High Lodge near Darsham.

Shooting star John Bidwell is pictured at High Lodge near Darsham. - Credit: Archant

You have to admire John Bidwell.

You have to admire John Bidwell.

The 65-year-old clay shooting star from Darsham, near Saxmundham, still has fire in his eyes despite the fact he already has six FITASC Sporting world titles and four European ones under his belt.

While most men would be putting their feet up and enjoying a cup of cocoa, John is far from done.

Owner of High Lodge, a 120-acre country park at Darsham, he won his fourth European title in Italy last month. He’s currently in Spain competing in the worlds.

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This super-charged Suffolk Super Vet, who has battled leukaemia and took a couple of years out of the Great Britain squad two years ago only to return and hit back with his Italy win last month, has a phenomenal record.

“Attitude is the key,” John said.

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“You have to have the winning attitude in any sport and my sport is no different.

“Anyone can shoot. But your attitude has to be right.

“I am often up against hundreds of other shooters, but when I shout ‘pull’, I mean it. I always go to win.”

John’s trophy cabinet would almost take up an acre of High Lodge, such has been his success. But it was a success he taught himself. It is a success he has worked hard on.

“I’m self-taught,” he admits.

“At 17 I was a member of Somerleyton Gun Club, but I didn’t really take shooting seriously until I was 22, when I started to think I could do well at this.

“I got into the England team and qualified for the Great Britain team in 1978. I’ve more or less been in the GB team for 35 years since, with just the odd year or two out.

“I got leukaemia and took a break, but I’ve recovered from that thankfully.”

Clay Shooting comes in many forms, but John shoots Compak Sporting, which is not an Olympic sport.

An Olympic gold therefore will not feature in his collection – although one suspects if Compak was in the Olympics, John would bag the gold.

Now a Super Vet – for those aged 65 and over – John enjoyed his first Super Vet outright European title in Italy, as well as a GB team title he won alongside – among others – Frank Haigh from Halstead, who was also a member of the GB team.

But is the sport getting tougher for him to compete at?

“Yes, it is,” John said.

“The standard keeps rising.

“When I won the World title in Australia in 1988, I scored 178 out of 200, and when I won the same title at Goodwood in 1996 I scored 186.

“Today you will need much more than that to win. In Italy last month I won with 192. But that wasn’t good enough to be overall champion across all classes.”

John gives shooting lessons at High Lodge and has been a successful author of the book, Move, Mount, Shoot, a reference to his style of teaching on how to fire at clays.

He shows no signs of giving up any time yet – a total legend in the sport of Clay Shooting

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