2017 SSAA-IHMSA National Championships

30 September-6 October 2017 - SSAA Brisbane

[ Handgun Metallic Silhouette International ]

Some 38 competitors arrived at the SSAA Brisbane Branch in dribs and drabs for this year’s SSAA-IHMSA National Championships. This included one from WA, four from South Australia, three from Victoria, two from the ACT, three from NSW and 25 from Queensland from as far north as Mackay. Friday, September 29 was deemed the practice day for Small Bore and Field Pistol and at 35C the weather really made it hard for some of the shooters not used to the heat and humidity of South East Queensland.

Small Bore and Field Pistol

Saturday - Day 1

A slightly cooler day - only 32C! Unfortunately the wind came up at around 10.30am and the Rimfire rams at 100m had to be clamped to stop them blowing over. Just after lunch Kirsten Jackes (Qld) shot the first perfect score of 40 in Unlimited and then quite late in the afternoon Barry Whitford (SA) posted a 40 in Unlimited Any Sights while Judy Harding (Qld) shot 30 in Field Pistol Production.

Sunday - Day 2

The weather had certainly changed overnight - today was overcast and cool and again the wind arrived and the rams had to be clamped once more. As the afternoon wore on it became darker and the wind increased, requiring the turkeys at 75m to be secured. There was a minor interruption during the afternoon when the ‘duck’ family - mum, dad and six ducklings - who had been happily swimming in the water in the drain that ran across the range, decided to forage further afield and wandered across in front of the 50m target rail. A few volunteers headed out to do the wildlife removal, aka duck wrangling, and the family were persuaded to go back into the gully.

It began to rain around 4pm just as the last relay went to the line. Jumpers and jackets appeared from nowhere as it turned quite cool. The light conditions made it difficult to see the black targets, especially those under the new bunkers. Top scores for the day were Cheyne Fischer (ACT) with a 39 in Production, John Harding (Qld) with a 39 in Unlimited and Kim Emery (NSW) with a 31 in Field Pistol Any Sights. Gary Jacobs (WA) managed a 40 in Unlimited Any Sights in the difficult conditions of late afternoon.

Monday - Day 3

The shooting day began in the rain and was quite cool. The rain did ease but it stayed heavily overcast all day. The only good thing was that organisers did not have to clamp any targets as the wind was not as strong as the previous two days. Despite the dark conditions, Fischer shot a 40 in Unlimited, Brian Marsden (NSW) a 32 in FP Production Any Sights and Wayne Christian (ACT) shot an excellent 28 in Standing with a borrowed firearm. As the final scores were entered into the computer and the shoot off targets were being set up at 100m, the good luck ran out and it began to rain in earnest.

First up were Jackes and Fischer in Unlimited - Kirsten cleared the rail of all five shoot-off targets in the first run through to win Unlimited. Whitford and John Harding then shot off for third place in grade as both had missed a ram for a score of 39. After the first five targets the scores were still equal and it was not until after a second go that Barry took third place in INT grade. Last shoot-off for the day was Jacobs and Whitford in Unlimited Any Sights. The shoot-off targets were changed to all chickens and the tussle began. Once again it took two rounds with Barry taking the honours and Gary runner-up. As the rain eased, all the rimfire and field pistol targets were packed away and the range set up with the 200m Big Bore targets ready for practice day on Tuesday.

Fortunately the day had finished early enough to allow everyone to go back to their accommodation to briefly relax, shower and change ready for the presentation evening. Some were hard to recognise when not in their ‘shooting clobber’ including caps, glasses and earmuffs. After filling all the hungry tummies, it was down to the nitty-gritty part of the evening, presenting all the trophies for the 100m Small Bore and Field Pistol matches.

Small Bore

Production Cheyne Fischer (ACT) 39
Revolver Barry Whitford (SA) 39
Standing Wayne Christian (ACT) 28
Unlimited Kirsten Jackes (Qld) 40
Unlimited Any Sights Barry Whitford (SA) 40

Field Pistol

Production Judy Harding (Qld) 30
Production Any Sights Brian Marsden (NSW) 32

2-Match Aggregate

Open Kim Emery (NSW)  60
Ladies Judy Harding (Qld) 57
Junior Jessica Dorl (Qld) 8

4-Match Aggregate

Open Russell Mowles (Qld) 136
Ladies Judy Harding (Qld) 126
Junior Jessica Dorl (Qld) 46

There was only one Junior in attendance this year, 14-year-old Jessica Dorl, from Mackay. This was Jessica’s first National Championships and in many of the matches she scored more than both her father and grandfather who were also competing.

Tuesday - Day off: Washing done, food supplies replenished and time for a very brief relax. Others did some practice ready for Big Bore, while others visited the local gunshops and a few went sight-seeing. All in all, a nice, quiet day.

Big Bore

Wednesday - Day 1

The day began under cloudy skies and a few keen workers had to do some chores on the mound at 200m as the last ram on D range was rather hard to see. By the time shooting started, the clouds broke and out came the sun making things very glary again. Mick Arden (Vic) shot an excellent 40 in Revolver quite early in the day. In the afternoon, Fischer scored a 40 in Unlimited and Jacobs had a personal best of 39 in Revolver.

By late afternoon, shadows from the trees growing on the side mound and the shadows from the new bunkering made the 200m rams extremely hard to pick out.


Thursday - Day 2

Brilliant sunshine for a change, but this put the targets in an odd light under the cover of the bunkers. Still, the 40s flowed - Christian 40 in Revolver, Fischer 40 in Production and not to be outdone by her son, Judy Harding also shot 40 in Production. That was just the first half of the day. In the afternoon, Whitford shot an excellent 40 in Unlimited Any Sights Half Scale, no easy task at the best of times. Russell Mowles (Qld) followed with a 40 in Unlimited, having to shoot his last five rams on an adjacent range as you could not see the ones on his range in the shadows. Jacobs also finished the day with a 40 in Unlimited.


Friday - Day 3

Very bright and sunny, hot and humid - great Queensland weather. The 40s began early -Jacobs 40 in Unlimited Any Sights, Judy Harding 40 in Unlimited then Whitford with a 40 in Unlimited. The Standing scores for the Big Bore part of the shoot had been ordinary until Arden came along and posted an excellent 30. Marsden also put in a good Unlimited Standing of 25

There was a good showing from up-and-coming young shooter, Lachlan Bennett, from Maryborough in Queensland, who over the course of the shoot shot some excellent scores, particularly in the standing matches. Lachlan had already scored a 27 and 28 in Field Pistol Production and Production Any Sights in the first part of the Nationals and he kept this up in Big Bore with a 23 in Unlimited Standing.

The shoot offs for Big Bore began with Mick and Wayne being first on the line after both shooting a 40 in Revolver. Mick was the victor here. His mother, Judy, and son Cheyne then towed the line for the Production shoot-off with mum being the winner thanks to her trusty Thompson Center Contender.

This was followed by the 4 x 40s in Unlimited - Whitford, Jacobs, Fischer and Judy Harding. Barry was the winner after the first round and Gary took second place after the second round which left Cheyne and Judy to fight it out for third and fourth places. Cheyne finally won the third place. All the shooting was now completed and everything that needed to be packed away was. It was now up to the scorer to finalise the scores for the eight matches in Big Bore before the presentation that evening.

So all was done and dusted for another year, with the only thing left, the presentation dinner for Big Bore. With a couple of hours to spare before that started, many took the opportunity to pack and tidy up ready for the journey home, which for one shooter was over 4000km away. After a tasty roast dinner and dessert, the final presentations for 2017 took place.

Big Bore

Production                              Judy Harding (Qld)        40

Revolver                                 Mick Arden (Vic)          40

Standing                                  Mick Arden (Vic)          30

Unlimited                                Barry Whitford (SA)      40

Unlimited Half Scale               Barry Whitford (SA)      37

Unlimited Standing                 Brian Marsden (NSW)   25

Unlimited Any Sights              Gary Jacobs (WA)         40

Unlimited ASHS                     Barry Whitford (SA)      40


4-Match Aggregate

Open                                       Mick Arden (Vic)          148

Ladies                                     Judy Harding (Qld)        136

Junior                                      Jessica Dorl (Qld)          33


10-Match Aggregate

Barry Whitford (SA)               321

Judy Harding (Qld)                 319

Gary Jacobs (WA)                  316


Thanks to Johanna M and her husband Brian for their dedication to the scoring over the six days of competition. It is a demanding task and Johanna always puts her hand up for it. Her efforts are  very much appreciated. Thanks also to those competitors who helped put out, stand and paint targets ready for each practice day and to all those who assisted in the running of the competition by doing range and line officer duties. It was good to see some new, younger faces this year and it is to be hoped they keep up the good work. The rest of us appear a little older each year and by the last afternoon we all looked rather tired. We are looking forward to seeing everyone next year at Virginia, South Australia where we will do it all again.

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