The SSAA Jarrahdale Range, south-east of Perth, was the venue for this year’s Centrefire Benchrest Nationals. Shooters travelled from far and wide, with some hardy souls driving thousands of kilometres to be there from April 14 to 17. These Nationals also decided the Australian team for the World Championships to be held in New Zealand in November.
Friday morning saw the rail guns being set up on the benches. Those that did not have one used their heavy bench rifle, and in some conditions this can actually be an advantage. However, given the relatively placid setting, some outstanding scores were expected.
Any 10-shot group under two-tenths of an inch at 100 yards is pretty good and on the very first lot of targets Paul Sullivan put down a .148 group that no-one bettered for the rest of the morning. The aggregate was always going to be a good one and Mitchell Tallar’s .2400 took the medal.
The longer yardage saw many groups under the half-inch mark, and some under point-4. The best of these was a tidy .337 shot by Milan Morrell. When it came down to the aggregate there was much excitement - Ron Sinclair won it with .2427, which gave him the vital 10th point to put him into the Benchrest Hall of Fame.
Ron’s excellent performance at the longer yardage also sealed the grand aggregate (and the Ron Marsden Trophy) for Unlimited class, plus another two Hall of Fame points. The bridesmaid in all this was Milan Morrell, who was second at both yardages and the grand. Roger Marshall was third. Apart from gaining entrance to the Hall of Fame, Ron’s grand aggregate score broke the old Steve Brown record set at the same range some years ago.
|Unlimited top 10|
Sporter Benchrest class
Easter Saturday was set down for Sporter class - 9lb rifles which move around a little more on the bags than their heavier cousins. Conditions were not as good as the previous day but that just made it more interesting.
Groups under point-2 were hard to come by, but on the last target Craig Whittleton managed a nice .145 to take the small group medal. The aggregate saw a terrific battle between Paul Sullivan and John Wyatt with Paul just sneaking it in by .0004 - now that’s close!
Out to 200 yards and while there were a good number of groups under the half inch, Sullivan’s .365 was a clear winner. In a masterful display, Paul also won the aggregate and the Alan Peake Memorial Shield.
Having won both yardages, there was no surprise that Paul had also claimed the grand aggregate. In doing so he managed to hold off John Wyatt and Roger Marshall for the minor places.
|Sporter top 10|
Light Benchrest class
Things turned a little more serious on Easter Sunday, as the Light and Heavy classes would determine the team to represent Australia. All of the smallest groups in the relays were under .150, which is indicative of the strength of the competition. Darren Parsons had started with a .148, but his .117 on the D target won him the medal. In fact, his consistent shooting also wrapped up the aggregate with a fine .2012, from Andrew Faber and Ean Parsons (Darren’s dad).
At the longer yardage, the small groups still came thick and fast. Even a point-3 was not good enough, as Roger Marshall shot a .230 to take small group. However, consistency always wins the day and David Kerr managed it with .2434 from Roger Marshall and Paul Sullivan.
The grand aggregate result saw a very pleased Darren Parsons lift the trophy with .2498 from Marshall and Kerr.
|Light Benchrest top 10|
Heavy Benchrest class
By the fourth day of the competition, shooters were becoming used to the vagaries of the Jarrahdale range - it is considered by many to be one of the toughest venues in Australia. Time was running out for those aspiring to make the Australian team, and today would settle the issue.
To win a small group award, you had to shoot better than .150 - it was that competitive. Finally, David Kerr sealed it with a nice .119, but his aggregate was a pearler - a .1642, which was a new WA record for this class. William Greer was second with Roger Marshall third.
Last aggregate for the Nationals and the tiny groups just kept on coming. On the final targets of the day, Roger Marshall punched in a .290 for the best group of the morning. This also assisted him to a win in the aggregate with a tidy .2347 just edging out Kerr on .2353 and Ron Sinclair on .2455.
The grand aggregate saw Kerr come out on top with an outstanding .1997 overall score - it was a just reward after all of his work in getting the Nationals to Perth and seeing it through. Roger hung in there for second place with fellow Queenslander Greer in third.
|Heavy Benchrest top 10|
The results of the three Multi Guns are highlighted. In the overall 4-Gun, Roger Marshall put on a highly consistent performance to achieve the Holy Grail of Benchrest. The way he is shooting at the moment would suggest that this might just be the first of many.
|2-Gun top 10 (Light & Heavy)|
3-Gun top 10 (Sporter, Light & Heavy)
|4-Gun top 10|
The 2017 Benchrest Nationals went off without a hitch. Thanks to some planning by David Kerr and his helpers, the shoot ran like clockwork from start to finish. Also much appreciated by shooters were the giveaways from Leupold via NIOA, especially the engraved Leupold 45x competition scope, which was won by Mark Tallar.
|Teams to World Championships|
|A team||B team||C team|
|Roger Marshall||Darren Parsons||Gavin Marshall|
|David Kerr||William Greer||Fergus Bailey|
|Paul Sullivan||Brendan Atkinson||John Wyatt|
|Mitchell Tallar||Steve Sori||Milan Morrell|