If Carlsberg did skeet shooters then this "probably" would be it, especially on the NSSA World stage. Craig Lakey was born in September 1981 - this puts into perspective the massive achievements by this shooter at a young age.
Craig has a remarkable talent and has been able to apply that to ALL THREE forms of skeet we shoot in the UK – English Skeet, NSSA (more on this later) and Olympic Skeet. His ability has given him the opportunity to compete at the very top both here and abroad in all versions of the game winning a huge number of titles and given the total targets he has shot, his record of 100 straights percentage wise is massive.
Let's start there to set the scene. He shot his first 100 straight at North of England shooting ground in June 1997 (age 15) and has since gone on to shoot a total of 108 straights in either ESK or NSSA. 68 of those 100 straights were in NSSA !!
Craig focussed on ESK and NSSA disciplines till around 2005 when he made the move over to OSK and we are going to highlight the achievements here first:
- OSK Warwickshire County Champion for five years in a row 2005 to 2009,
- Winner of the Bisley Grand Prix and English Open OSK in 2006
- Represented Great Britain on multiple occasions between 2006 and 2012.
In English skeet Craig has represented England in the Home International numerous times and has also been team captain. His first success at this tournament was in 1994 winning the Home International Junior High Gun aged just 12 !
He took the same title two years later in 1996 but it was to be a year later in 1997 that he topped this – Winning the Junior High Gun and the overall High Gun at the Home International aged just 16 !!
He won the International High gun another four times before 2003. It's important to remember that these achievements were in an era when as a senior you needed more than 390 ex 400 to even get into the England Skeet team.
Craig also took the ESC champion title in 2004.
Junior World Medals & All American
It was however NSSA skeet where Craig REALLY excelled and was able to dominate here in the UK when he shot locally but was also very capable of going to the USA and competing successfully EVERY time he did.
Craig was fortunate in that as a teenager he got to go to the USA twice (1994 and 1999) and spent time living with and shooting with the great Wayne Mayes along with Todd Bender. You cannot get a much better education in NSSA skeet than spending time with two giants of the game.
This benefit of this shows in Craig's record. He joined NSSA in 1993 and took his very first title that year – the 28gauge championship at the BSSA open.
During 1995 and 1996 he won the Junior Champion HOA titles at all three major shoots – UK Open, BSSA Open and European Open but it was 1997 that was to be the breakthrough year with him dominating at the BSSA Open shooting a 391 ex 400 to set a new Junior record score that has not been beaten to this day.
This score won him BSSA HOA Champion, BSSA HOA Junior Champion, 12gauge Champion, 28 gauge Champion, .410 Champion and Champ of Champs.
This year also saw him travel to the USA and he competed in the 1997 Junior World Championships with the same devastating effect to take Junior World 12 gauge Champion and Junior World 20 gauge Champion along with HOA Runner-Up and a massive score of 397 x 400.
He proved that he had what it takes to compete on the BIG stage in the USA.
Craig continued in this vain through to 2006 in the UK taking a further 26 titles at the major NSSA shoots here.
The pinnacle in NSSA Skeet - A World Champion Ring
As we have pointed out in other profiles, in NSSA Skeet it is the ability to travel to the USA and compete at the "Mini World" and "World Skeet" that is the true mark of talent, dedication and skill.
Craig has done this in some style (as you would expect) and he is WITHOUT DOUBT the most successful NSSA shooter the UK has ever produced so far (up to October 2014). We wonder if such great achievements might ever be passed ?
In 2000 Craig topped the NSSA averages in Doubles with 99.22% and this was a great example of what he was capable of doing and what was soon to follow..
He travelled to the World Skeet Shoot in San Antonio, Texas to compete in autumn 2001. He was one of TWENTY THREE perfect scores of 100 ex 100 from 828 entries and emerged as the Doubles World Champion and became the first "Brit" to win a World Championship
event after the shoot off.
In 2003 Craig challenged again by running a 250 ex 250 in the 12 gauge event and ending up AAA4 and 7th Overall from 158 in his class and 863 entries in total.
He ran a perfect 100 ex 100 in the 20 gauge event aswell. Then 99's in the 28 gauge, .410 and Doubles events saw him end on 548 ex 550 in HOA to end up 8th Overall from 711 entries.
This then meant a 647 ex 650 in the HAA event to end up 9th Overall from 535 entries and take his class (A) by 5 targets.
2004 - A 'stellar' year
2004 was just another stellar year with Craig shooting a perfect score at the UK Open (200 ex 200) and one away at the European Open (199 ex 200).
This was all leading to the culmination of what was to be a fantastic "Mini World" and "World Shoot".
To give some background to this, Craig had a conversation with Wayne Mayes seeking advice as his 20 gauge average was around 1.5% higher than his 12 gauge average at this time. Wayne suggested that Craig shoot what we call "20 for 12" meaning he would use his 20 gauge tubes in the 12 gauge events.
Looking at his early season performances this seemed to be the answer and this would be confirmed at the forthcoming world shoot.
2004 Mini World - Medals
It all began with the "Mini World". Shooting a 100 ex 100 in the 12 gauge event one of 88 perfect scores from 663 entries. He emerged Mini World 12 Gauge Champion after the shoot off using his 20 gauge tubes.
The 20 gauge event saw a 99, he quickly followed this with another 100 ex 100 in the 28 gauge event one of 58 perfect scores and yet again after the shoot off Craig emerged as Mini World 28 Gauge Champion.
Another perfect 100 ex 100 in the .410 event and one of 8 from 679 entries with him ending up 4th Overall in the .410 and winning AAA1.
These scores added together gave Craig a 399 ex 400 and one of 5 shooters who managed this score from 556 HOA entries.
The shoot off, which is done with the .410, took place and Craig Lakey emerged as Mini World HOA Champion 2004.
You would think that was enough for 2004 but NO, this young man and his 20 gauge tube set were not done at this world shoot just yet !
On to the Main world shoot and this was when the 12 gauge event was split over two days with 125 targets on the West side and 125 targets on the East side giving a total ex 250. Craig ran them all for a 250 ex 250 - one of 37 shooters who did this.
The usual shoot off ensued and amazingly Craig emerged as the winner again to be crowned 12 Gauge World Champion - the FIRST person EVER to win the 12 gauge world championship using the 20 gauge. Along the way in that shoot off he also won the 12 Gauge West Champion title – this from an entry of 847 shooters!!
Craig was one of 76 perfect 100 ex 100's in the 20 gauge event from the same number of entries as the 12 gauge event – 847. This time he could only manage Runner-Up.
Yet another 100 ex 100 in the 28 gauge event and this time 10th overall and AAA7. A 96 ex 100 in the .410 saw a finish of 546 ex 550 in the HOA event and a 644 ex 650 in the HAA event.
Craig and Nick in San Antonio TX
The next season (2005), Craig returned to the "Mini World" and a 100 ex 100 in the 28 gauge event saw him nearly defend his title from 2004 ending as Runner-Up from 647 entries.
Another 100 ex 100 in the .410 event saw a 5th place finish and another 399 ex 400 the same as 2004!
This time though there were FOUR perfect 400 ex 400's so Craig had to settle for HOA 5th and AAA1 from the 531 entries.
In the 2005 Main World Craig shot a 249 ex 250 in the 12 gauge, followed by a perfect 100 ex 100 in the 20 gauge to finish 5th in the 20 gauge event from 849 entries.
Then another 100 ex 100 in the 28 gauge to end up 3rd in the event from 845 entries.
A 98 in the .410 resulted in a HOA total of 547 ex 550 and the 98 ex 100 in Doubles a 645 ex 650.
In the following season (2006) Craig had already began the switch to OSK in the UK so his only two NSSA events were the Mini and Main World shoots.
A 100 ex 100 in the 28gauge Mini saw him end up 4th overall and AAA1 from 691 entries. He ended the Mini World with a 395 ex 400.
The Main world saw a similar performance in the 28 gauge main event with another 100 ex 100 and a 5th place overall and AAA2 from 800 entries. This gave him another HOA score of 545 ex 550 and a HAA score of 643 ex 650.
2007 saw Craig again only shoot the Mini and Main world events at NSSA but this did not seem to stop him shooting a perfect 100 ex 100 at the Mini World 20 Gauge event and winning the shoot off to emerge as Mini World 20 gauge Champion from 669 entries and 71 perfect scores.
The Main "World shoot" saw him break a score of 546 ex 550 in the HOA event to finish 18th from 650 shooters and a 99 in the Doubles meant he finished on 645 ex 650 in the HAA event and 17th Place overall from 508 entries.
Another successful season 2008 saw Craig take the UK Open title with 397 ex 400 - an amazing 15 shots clear of his nearest rival !!
He continued this run of form at the Mini World breaking 100 ex 100 in the 20 gauge event again and one of 56 shooters to do so from the 657 entries. YET AGAIN he emerged victorious from the shoot off to defend his title from 2007 and his 6th NSSA world title and become Mini World 20 gauge Champion.
It was in the main event this year that he performed well again to break a 100 ex 100 and take AAA4 after 10 of the 677 entries broke the perfect score.
Craig also teamed up with another Brit (Nick Marsden) in 2008 in the two man team event and then won the 12 gauge and 20 gauge two man team titles.
Quite a feat in a year that was famous for the Bender / Mayes coin toss for HOA given that those two giants were two man team partners as well.
In 2010, the World 12 gauge event was reduced to a single day of 150 targets (75 East / 75 West) and it was after a two year break from the "world shoot" that Craig returned to San Antonio, Texas in autumn 2011.
He ran a perfect 150 ex 150 to finish 4th overall from 772 entries in the 12 gauge and take AAA1 honours.
In the 28 gauge event another perfect 100 ex 100 and 5th place alongside AAA2. This coupled with a 99 in the 20 gauge and a 98 in the .410 meant a score of 447 ex 450 in HOA and 11th place overall from 716 entries.
The 98 ex 100 in doubles saw him compile 545 ex 550 in HAA and this was good enough for 9th overall and AAA5 from an entry of 464 skeet shooters
2011 was the last time that Craig attended the world shoot while he pursued his Olympic dreams and got married etc.
His record to date speaks for itself with 6 world titles plus two Junior World titles and multiple top ten finishes and on the date this was written (2014) still only 33 !
We certainly hope we have not seen the last of him and would like to see him add that HOA World Champion title to the collection !!!!
If these achievements do not inspire skeet shooters to want to get to the USA and see if they can compete on the world stage - nothing will !
Craig - WE ARE PROUD OF YOU !