With the boom of a cannon, the inaugural Pacific Regional Shooting Championships was launched and more than 50 competitors from Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia took to the SSAA Brisbane Branch in Belmont, Queensland.
Held at the Madden Range under the direction of SSAA Brisbane Branch President Rod Shannon and CEO Don Ruwoldt, these championships included shooters from the SSAA, New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association (NZDA) and Indonesia. Shooters competed as individuals and within two-person teams in Benchrest, 3-Position and Rifle Metallic Silhouette disciplines. The Championships jury was staffed by experienced Olympic and international Running Target adjudicators Kaye McIntyre, Gil Hartwig and Les Armitage. Chief range officers consisted of Barry Edgley and Annie Elliot for Benchrest, Doug Lawrie for 3-Position and Andrew Judd for Rifle Metallic Silhouette.
The competitions began on the morning of Friday, November 10 with an official day for practice, equipment control checks, briefings and team meetings. A welcome reception held that night at the Carindale Hotel proved a good opportunity to get the shooters in the mood for some serious competition.
Competition began early on the Saturday morning. Throughout the increasing heat and humidity and the temperamental afternoon winds, shooters competed in the Benchrest Light Varmint, 3-Position Rimfire and Rifle Metallic Silhouette Rimfire and Air Rifle classes.
The Saturday was also Remembrance Day and at 11am competition ceased for one minute and the emotive Last Post was played to remember those who served and made sacrifices in wars and conflicts during the past 100 years.
Competition continued on the Sunday with the Benchrest Heavy Varmint, 3-Position Centrefire and Rifle Metallic Silhouette Rimfire Hunter classes.
By the end of the weekend, the long hours and trying weather conditions had taken its toll on the shooters and scorers alike and the awards presentation dinner was a much welcomed opportunity to recognise the skills and efforts of all those involved in the championships.
The shooters were well turned out in their competition uniforms, with the New Zealand team sporting their black and grey suits and the Australian team in their green, gold and blue tracksuits.
The national anthems of New Zealand, Indonesia and Australia were played in turn and following the roast tea, individual and team medals were awarded to the first, second and third place winners for each of the Benchrest, Rifle Metallic Silhouette and 3-Position classes. Winners were presented their medals upon the podium and their national flags were raised behind them.
Championship Committee members Kaye McIntyre and Marlene Hartwig presented SSAA National President Bob Green and NZDA President Steve Veail each with a framed memento of the championships. Mr Veail expressed his thanks and congratulations to all those involved and Mr Green followed this with a warmly received gesture of sportsmanship - a swapping of the two mementos. The New Zealand keepsake will have a home in the newly established New Zealand Heritage Trust and the Australian one will be placed on the wall of the SSAA National office.
The ceremonial part of the evening concluded with certificates given to the shooters, organisers and the many volunteers for their participation and efforts over the weekend.
With the success of the inaugural Pacific Regional Shooting Championships, future events are expected to be bigger and better with competitors from more of our Pacific neighbours and including more shooting disciplines.
The Championships would not have been made possible without the efforts of organising committee Kaye McIntyre, Marlene and Gil Hartwig, NZDA President Steve Veail and Chief Executive Officer Dianne Brown and SSAA National President Bob Green and most importantly the competitors.
SSAA Brisbane Branch
The origins of the SSAA Brisbane Branch date back to May 29, 1957, where 25 persons attended a meeting at the Gloria Beauty Salon in Brisbane. The meeting was opened by Mr D Johnstone, in which the objects and aims of the Association were outlined. Mr Johnstone advised of the past activities of the SSAA Sydney Branch and said they would assist where possible. He then introduced a Mr Watson from another club being formed in Brisbane and it was decided that both clubs would amalgamate to form the SSAA Brisbane Branch.
The next meeting, held on June 6, 1957, saw Mr Johnstone elected as President and a Mr John Bradbury as Secretary. By November 16, 1959, the first stages of development at the new Belmont Range were completed, with 10 shaded shooting positions at a range of 300 yards.
The Brisbane Branch incorporated as a company in 1974 and the range was slowly developed. The roofed-over area and the newly established pistol range were the basic facilities until the early 1970s, when a range shop, selling ammunition and refreshments, was established. The original clubhouse was also built and range hours were extended. The clubhouse was then extended in 1974 and within 12 months, the range was operating seven days. The following years saw major improvements in facilities and equipment for its members.
Today, the Madden Range, so named after the late Harry Madden, the father of the Benchrest movement in Australia, includes a 500m range with 34 benches, an indoor air range, a 200m pistol range and double shotgun layouts. Range complex also has a dormitory for competitors, a firearm safety training facility and additional section rooms. Further improvements continue as funds become available.
SSAA Brisbane has always had an active competition calendar. It was the home of Australia’s first World Benchrest Championship and has hosted the SSAA/IMSSU Metallic Silhouette World Championships and the annual Black Powder ‘Old Colonial Weekend’.
The Branch’s community involvement has been strong for more than 20 years. Some of the activities involve the PA Spinal Unit through Sporting Wheelies, the University of Queensland and school and vacation care groups. Real Adventure Women (RAW) and Growing Old Living Dangerously (GOLD) groups also regularly attend the range and enjoy varied shooting programs. These activities are made possible through the tireless efforts of the Branch’s volunteer workers. The warm and friendly atmosphere generated by the staff has kept this branch on a very personal level and continues to make it enjoyable for all involved.
Benchrest shooters use centrefire rifles supported on bench rests and are concerned with shooting the smallest groups possible on paper targets. The shooters fire from a sitting position and their bench rests comprise a front rest to support the fore-end of the rifle and a rear sandbag to support the butt.
In these championships, Benchrest shooting took place at 100 and 200 yards in Light Varmint and Heavy Varmint classes. The Light Varmint class allows rifles weighing 10.5lb and the Heavy Varmint allows rifles weighing 13.5lb. Most rifles were chambered for the 6mm PPC cartridge or derivations of this. Unlimited scope powers were allowed in both classes.
Ten 5-shot targets were shot in each class. This includes five 5-shot targets at 100 yards and another five 5-shot targets at 200 yards. Shooters are allowed 10 minutes for the first target of each yardage. Seven minutes are allowed for each target thereafter.
Wind indicators are essential to be able to adequately ‘read’ the shooting conditions. Competitors supplied their own wind indicators, many of which were designed and built by Benchrest range official Barry Edgley and Australian competitor Stuart Elliot.
Shooting conditions were demanding on both days, with switching winds of varying intensity baffling many competitions, particularly at 200 yards. Mirage was said to be moderate to heavy but was mostly readable for those that could.
Benchrest scorer Max Coady measured the group sizes from centre to centre of the two widest shots on the target using his specialised machine. Yardage winners were determined by taking the five-group measurements at each yardage and then dividing by five at 100 yards and 10 at 200 yards. The 100- and 200-yard averages for each class are added and divided by two to get the class winner. The class averages are added and then divided by two to get the 2-Gun winner.
By convention, these numbers are expressed in approximate minutes of angle (MOA), which is based on 1" at 100 yards. A group calculated at 0.25" at 100 yards would be referred to as quarter MOA. A 0.50" group at 200 yards would also be quarter MOA because the 200-yard groups are divided by two to give a 100-yard equivalent for aggregation.
While Benchrest shooting has been around since 1948, the ultimate group of 0.000" has never been achieved. The smallest group size of these championships, however, was shot by Indonesia’s Sebastian Lambang. He amazed his peers by shooting a group of 0.097" in Relay A in the 100-yard Heavy Varmint class and was accordingly awarded an official Screamer Patch at the presentation dinner.
Australia’s Stuart Elliot and Brendan Atkinson used a buddy system of backing each other up when shooting. This involved one of them standing behind the other with a spotting scope noting why each shot might have gone astray and having a spare rifle with ammo handy in case of equipment failure.
Stuart and Brendan, who are both experienced Benchrest shooters with many national and international victories to their names, did very well in the various Benchrest classes. As a team, they won gold medals in the Heavy Varmint and 2-Gun classes. In the individual category, Brendan took gold in the Heavy Varmint and 2-Gun.
However, it was New Zealand’s Kevin Duckworth and Ian Owen who secured the gold medal in the Light Varmint team, with a win of more than 0.02". Kevin also took the gold in the Light Varmint individual class, again by more than 0.03".
3-Position rifle shooting requires shooters to be able to shoot targets from the prone (lying down) position, the standing unsupported position and from the kneeling position. This requires training to be fit and flexible enough to accommodate all three positions and to minimise movement of the rifle.
Within these championships, the 3-Position discipline included Rimfire and Centrefire classes. The Rimfire class allowed any rifle chambered for the .22 long rifle cartridge and the Centrefire class allowed any calibre not exceeding 8mm. Most competitors used a .222 Remington, .223 or 6PPC. Rifles of any weight were permitted and a different butt-plate could be used for each position. This helped the shooters better tailor their rifles to each of the three positions.
NRA international smallbore ‘Any Sight’ rules were used in this discipline. This allowed for scopes to be used instead of an aperture (peep-sight). Shooting coats, boots, pants and gloves were all permitted and many shooters took advantage of them in varying degrees.
The Australian 3-Position two-person team shooters were chosen from the top placings from the 2-Gun aggregate of the Rimfire and Centrefire 3-Position matches from the Field Rifle and 3-Positional National Championships held in Scottsdale, Tasmania, earlier this year. The individual shooters were chosen on their own shooting merits.
There were some outstanding results in the 3-Position discipline. Rod Frisby and Ian Tower won gold medals for Australia in the Rimfire and Centrefire team classes and were also the clear winners in the 2-Gun team event. While Ian confessed to using and “wearing out” a 20-year-old barrel in his Remington 700 .222 rifle in the Centrefire class, one can’t complain with his results - he and fellow team member Rod managed to outscore silver medallists David McCarthy and Andrew Sevelj by 40 points in the 2-Gun team event.
Using an Anschutz 2000 series rifle, with a Leupold 6.5-20x40 power-boosted scope, Rod also won gold in the Rimfire and 2-Gun individual events. He could not, however, secure more than a bronze in the Centrefire individual event. This honour went to Australia’s Will Godward, who scored 22 points more than fellow Australian and silver medallist David McCarthy.
It is said that top shooters will get close to a perfect score of all 10s in the prone position and close to a perfect score in the kneeling position. Standing unsupported is known to be the least stable position and is therefore the most difficult. While hitting the ‘X’ or centre spot of the target in any position is also worth 10 points, it is also the best possible hit. Will Godward and New Zealand’s Colin Curreen are to be commended for hitting the X spot 13 times in the individual Rimfire and Centrefire classes respectively.
Rifle Metallic Silhouette
Rifle Metallic Silhouette (RMS) shooters take aim to knock down silhouettes shaped like certain animals at a variety of distances. This discipline can include two classes of Centrefire, two classes of Rimfire and other classes such as Air, Service and Black Powder Cartridge rifles. In these championships, however, only Rimfire, Rimfire Hunter and Air Rifle classes were included.
Air Rifle permits any air rifle less than 7kg and Rimfire permits .22 long rifle calibres and cartridges. Using NRA weight rules, the Rimfire class allows rifles weighing 8.5lb, including a 2lb trigger. The Rimfire Hunter class only allows sporter-style rifles and has differences in terms of the weight and trigger pull and stock and barrel tapering.
The metal cut-out silhouettes are placed onto a steel stand which is put into the ground. To score a hit, the silhouettes must be knocked off these stands. There are 10 cut-outs in two banks of five at each distance. In Rimfire, the chicken cut-outs were placed at 40m, pigs at 60m, turkeys at 77m and rams at 100m. In Air Rifle, chickens were placed at 20 yards (note, yards, not metres in this class), pigs at 30 yards, turkeys at 36 yards and rams at 45 yards.
The matches consist of 40 shots - 10 at each of the four types of silhouettes. All RMS classes are shot from the offhand position. Clay target-style vests are permitted, but no form of artificial support, such as slings, is permitted. Each shooter has a scorer or spotter standing behind them to record their shots and make sure the shooter abides by the rules.
Shooters are permitted to start on any set of animals, but shots must be taken in sequence, from left to right, and with only one shot per silhouette. The time limit for firing the five shots is two and a half minutes in every class. Fifteen seconds is permitted at the start of each bank of five shots. Shooters use this time to set up their scopes and load their rifles.
Because the New Zealand team do not shoot Air Rifle Metallic Silhouette, extra air rifles were brought in specifically for them.
Powerhouse duo Matthew Everingham and Dann Suthern blitzed the board, winning in almost every event and category. They won gold in the Air Rifle, Rimfire, Rimfire Hunter and 3-Gun team events, winning the latter by 50 points. Matthew, who represented Australia at the US Nationals in the Field Rifle event earlier this year, won gold medals in the Rimfire, Rimfire Hunter and 3-Gun individual events. At just 18, Matthew’s shooting career is looking bright.
Australia’s Alex Brace just secured the gold in the Air Rifle individual event, scoring one point more than Dann Suthern and two points more than Matthew Everingham, while New Zealand’s Allan Murray and Ray Palmer were the best shooters on the Metallic Silhouette range during the championships for their country.
A juniors recount by Chris Gulvin
No doubt you would already have seen the report on the Pacific Regional Shooting Championships in last month’s edition of the Australian Shooter. I was given a great opportunity to attend and compete among some of the most elite shooters in the Pacific Region and I would like to comment on it.
Firstly, I would like to get the thank yous out of the way. I wish to give a big thanks to Dot and Vince Cacciola for their efforts at the State Titles by means of their help, but also to Dot for pushing the issue of sending me to the Championships. Thank you also to SSAA WA and their secretary Maureen Edwards and the committee for their help in getting me to Brisbane; to Richard Murray from Southern Districts and all the shooters from the Perth rifle clubs for their fundraising efforts; the guys from Port Bouvard Rifle Range for my last minute practice and support; my grandfather, who has helped me out all the way; and my parents for all their efforts.
My trip started on Thursday November 9 after a very strenuous three hours of my TEE English exam. Dad picked me up straight from there and, after loading the van, we had a two and a half hour drive to the airport. After 20 minutes and a lot of cooperation on Qantas’ behalf, we were on that five hour direct flight to sunny Brisbane.
From the airport we used the trusty GPS in the hire car and after several “take the next turn…” we arrived at the Nestle Inn. After arriving at 1am, we got some much needed sleep and then headed to the range in convoy with Robert and Cathy Tobler and Con Smith (dodgey name, but a nice bloke) at around 7am that same morning. A 10-minute trip and we arrived at the exquisite Belmont range. Covering for most disciplines there were bench rests, an indoor fully carpeted air rifle range for running target, silhouette, shotgun, pistol and big bore.
Day one of the trip saw the opening of the Inaugural Pacific Regional Shooting Championships with the firing of a very accurate cannon. After the shooters’ debriefing, we were into it. The weather was hot and slightly humid - not the kind of conditions I’m used to shooting in, with a lot of water required. An unpredictable breeze meant that we all had to be on our toes. The first event was 3-Position Rimfire NRA style - change the timing per position, include unlimited sighters with 20 scoring shots per position and the very uncomfortable kneeling position in place of sitting. The all-black targets became very hard to distinguish the rings as the line between rings was quite undefined. Many good scores were shot given the conditions. The weekend’s shooting was kept under control by Doug Lawrie and as it was his first time also with these new NRA rules, he did a damn fine job.
After an exhausting first day of competition and many lessons learnt, we headed back to home base where Dad and I refreshed and caught up on some sleep before finally heading back to the range for a lovely barbecue that was put on.
Day two of the competition found itself in much the same conditions as day one. With the 3-Position Centrefire event the warmer conditions led to a slight mirage at the greater distance. It played havoc in the morning until the breeze started blowing in the afternoon to give a clear shot. Again, many good scores were put down by all with my 6mm BR starting to penetrate the wind with minimal deflection. The Centrefire day proved more successful and my scores showed that. Kneeling is not as easy as they make it out to be, not to mention the pain and agony of the worst case of pins and needles imaginable - upon finishing, most competitors hobbled around in circles trying to abate their case of pins and needles.
With all of the shooting over for the weekend and a very happy and successful Australian team, we headed to the presentation and dinner. All the disciplines were presented with various medals and accolades were handed out. It was a great inspiration to be among some of the best shooters that the sport of shooting has to offer and also to be among the different disciplines at an international event was a real eye opener. A lot of fun was had by all and after all the Kiwis aren’t that bad, but they insist that we are the ones who ‘talk funny’. It was a pleasure to shoot alongside the Kiwis and especially good to see some female shooters participating in the Championships.
Congratulations must be said to the Australian team and also to the organising committee of the championships. I’m sure that the Pacific Regional Shooting Championships can only get bigger and better, with hopefully some increased participation from other countries. I for one will strive to achieve a spot on the Australian team to represent my country at an international level. It’s not only about winning and being the best, as much as we all strive for it, but just being able to participate. Meeting new people also allows me and hopefully others to be more in touch with our sport. Hopefully, this will give incentive for future junior shooters to aim for bigger and better things. The advice received from the likes of Rod Frisby, Ian Towers, Andrew Sevelj and many more is priceless and worth every minute spent listening to. It has allowed me to explore a new side to the sport I previously would never have dreamed about. I would recommend this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to anyone.