Shooters from seven countries made their way to the Monarto Shooting Complex in South Australia to take part in the MLAIC (Muzzle Loaders Association International Committee) Long Range Muzzle Loading World Championships. Hosted by the SSAA Para Branch together with the Adelaide Black Powder Muzzle Loading Club, the competition was held from October 10 to 14, with entrants shooting from between 300 and 1000 yards with replica and original rifles in very mixed weather conditions.
The Grand Aggregate Replica match was won by Raymond Hanson, from the United States, followed by Australia’s Mark Sobierajski in second and New Zealand’s Jason Wakeling third. As for the top teams in the Grand Aggregate, the US came out on top again, followed by South Africa and New Zealand in second and third respectively.
Kim Atkinson, the SSAA Muzzleloading National Discipline Chairman, said the event was a tremendous success, although it was a shame that Canada, Germany and England were unable to attend. “The volunteers helping out at the event have been phenomenal and everyone is having a great time. There has been great camaraderie all week,” said Kim. “In particular, the SSAA Murray Bridge has gone above and beyond, delivering morning tea each day to the range. Not even the US team are used to service like this.”
The Championship was split up between replica rifles and original rifles, with some dating back to the 1800s being used throughout the weekend. Art Fleener, from the US, shot with one of the oldest rifles in the competition, an 1864 Rigby. Art could trace the rifle’s history back through the 1870s when it was used in competition by the Irish team competing in the US. The same rifle was used to set a 900-yard world record just two years ago in North Carolina. Art placed second in the 1000-yard Replica match, behind countryman Raymond Hopkins.
Bernard Collot, from the French team and president of the Versailles Shooting Range, said that he and his outfit worked all year to represent their country. “We are very moved by the people being so generous and we are very impressed with the club,” he said. Bernard was particularly proud of his countryman Arnaud Lilbert, who he described as France’s “secret weapon” in the competition. Arnaud placed third in the 1000-yard Replica match and second in the 500m Replica.
The Spaniards were arguably the most stylish team, complete with multiple mascots, mats with pictures of themselves shooting at previous World Cups and specially logoed bullet cases. Not to be outdone, the sole representative from the Netherlands, Henrie van Koot, proudly wore his country’s official uniform on the final day when he wasn’t competing ‑ that item being traditional wooden clogs.
Australia’s shining light came in the form of Mark Sobierajski, who managed second place in the Replica Long Range match and first in the Mid-Range Replica. Mark also recorded a first in the 800m Replica match, a third in the 600m Replica and a first in the 300m Replica.