Considered by Benchrest shooters to be second only in importance to the National Championships, the Australia Day Matches are held every year at the Jim McKinley Memorial range in Canberra.
These encounters initially began in 1980 and are still going strong. Shooters attending this year’s event would have noticed additional range improvements and the Majura venue is now considered one of the premier shooting locations in the country.
The program for this year’s shoot was changed, due to Australia Day falling on a Thursday. To allow shooters time to travel to and from the event, the Light Benchrest class was shot on the Friday and the Heavy Benchrest on Saturday.
Friday morning saw 46 shooters line up for the Light Benchrest class and although there were some quite small groups shot during the morning, many found out that Canberra’s tricky winds were not to be taken lightly.
Bill Jupp, from Newcastle, managed a .128 on the A target and this looked like the one to beat until the last efforts of the morning showed that Tom Hodgson had just pipped it with a .126 group. However, the aggregate went to Roger Marshall, whose tidy .2202 held off Jupp on .2502 and Paul Sullivan on .2658.
The conditions at the longer yardage helped some and hindered many, but that is the nature of the game. Marshall set the pace on the A target with a .287, but Sullivan topped that with a ‘screamer’ group of .248 on the B target. No-one was able to better that although many fine groups were shot. Fergus Bailey took the aggregate with .2459 from Mitchell Tallar on .2568 and Adelaide’s Robert Bisset third on .2915.
The grand aggregate for the Light Benchrest event went to Marshall with a total aggregate of .2672. Tallar had come storming home at 200 yards and finished up second in the grand with a .2690 and Bisset held third spot with a .2844.
The Heavy event is usually where the smallest groups and aggregates are shot - that is if the available wind conditions will allow it. As it turned out, they did, but there were plenty of traps for the foolish or the brave - typical Canberra conditions.
Brendan Atkinson punched down a .134 on the A target, but Ann Brummell lowered this with a .128 on the B. Darren Parsons then got into the act with a stunning .078 group, and no-one even looked like beating that during the morning. The aggregate was fought outright down to the last group, with Atkinson showing a .2098, from Brummell on .2312 and Parsons third on .2378.
The last aggregate for the whole event was shot in ‘sporting’ conditions and really tried the patience of many. All five small groups in the relays were less than a half-inch and the best of these was a .280 shot by Atkinson. However, the aggregate was easily won by Marshall and his .2899 beat home Steve Blaine on .3210 and Milan Morrell on .3381.
Not often are grand aggregates won by the results from the shorter aggregate, but Atkinson held on to win the Heavy event with .2784 from Brummell on .2906 and Blaine third with .2964.
The all-important 2-Gun aggregate was anxiously awaited by shooters and the final printout showed a popular win to Springsure shooter Marshall. His .2869 aggregate only just edged out perennial bridesmaid Atkinson on .2874 (Brendan has been runner-up at this shoot about a dozen times over the years), with Sullivan third on .3135. Have a look how close some of those scores finished up, and yes, there were many “if only” comments passed by shooters.
Once again Canberra turned on a very good shoot and was blessed with tolerable conditions for the shooters and range crew. For a club with so few but very dedicated members to assist, they kept things moving with little fuss. Well done!
|Top 10 Light Benchrest|
|Top 10 Heavy Benchrest|
|Top 10 2-Gun|