This year’s SSAA National Junior Challenge was held in South Australia at the SSAA Para Range in July and featured some of the best young shooters from around the nation. Competitors arrived on a Friday afternoon and almost immediately there was a clear sense of camaraderie among them. The highly competitive weekend of shooting produced some great results but the story of the event was the female shooters who proved almost unbeatable and a step above the boys.
The Challenge kicked off on Friday afternoon with a supplementary 10m Air Rifle Precision grouping to warm up all the juniors ahead of the main competition beginning the next day. The under-15s category was won by Nicholas McConnell, while Jordan Robinson claimed the honours in the under-18s. Some younger junior shooters, who were ineligible for the main competition because they were shooting from a supported position, were also able to take part. Sebastian Brown was the winner, narrowly beating Bryce Auld, with Jackson Ashby third and Emily Robb in fourth spot. However, what they lacked in arm length, they more than made up for in enthusiasm throughout the weekend of competition.
The first discipline to formally start the Challenge was Field Rifle, which featured a tight battle between the under-18 South Australian girls. Only .04 of a point separated Kata Kowplos in front with 373.06 from Nicole Worthley in second with a score of 373.02. In the under-15s, Kyle Noack came out on top, with Kelsey Rawlings and Xavier Romanes following closely behind.
The 3-Positional was the next event and it produced similarly competitive results. Jordan Robinson finished first for the under-18s, while Kelsey Rawlings went one better than she did in the previous event by landing top position in the under-15s.
With two disciplines completed and only one to go on Sunday, the juniors finally had a chance to relax with pizza and a quiz night. The evening was a highlight for competitors, parents and organisers and helped forge friendships among shooters of all ages around the country.
When Sunday morning arrived, the juniors jumped straight into the final discipline, Silhouette Rimfire. In the under-18s, the girls continued their domination, taking out the top four berths and a shoot-off between Sinee Khanprasert and Nicole Worthley was required to decide second place, with Sinee prevailing. Kelsey Rawlings proved too good again, claiming first position for the under-15s, followed by Kyle Noack in second and Jaden Wilkie third.
A final presentation of the 3-Gun Aggregate finished with Kata Kowplos first for the under-18s, followed by Jordan Robinson in second and another tie between Sinee Khanprasert and Nicole Worthley for third. For the under-15s, Kelsey Rawlings completed her almost flawless run taking first place, with Kyle Noack second and Jordi Krikke third.
Russell Brown from the SSAA Port Lincoln Pistol & Shooting Club echoed everyone’s thoughts by congratulating the organisers on a wonderful event. “The SSAA Para club exceeded all expectations for our shooters, with medals, trophies, shirts, hats and prizes - all happy little shooters,” he said. “A massive thank you to the Para Club members who assisted our under-12 shooters in all of their shooting activities. Without them it would not be an easy event to attend.”
While not everybody can be a winner, all the juniors had a great time and learned a lot. Most juniors were quite accomplished with one or two disciplines, though many lacked experience with another. Nevertheless, they tried their best and no doubt plenty of them will be back and better next year. The 2018 SSAA National Junior Challenge will be held at the ACT SSAA Majura shooting complex in Canberra.
A number of sponsors helped guarantee the success of the event and we would like to thank the following organisations for their support: The Adelaide Gun Shop, Fisher Firearms, TerryWhite Chemmart Elizabeth Park, Kent Civil, Bunnings Parafield, the SSAA Store, SSAA South Australia and SSAA National.
My Challenging experience
by Nicole Worthley
In July 2017, I competed in the SSAA National Junior Challenge at the SSAA Para Range. There were approximately 40 competitors in the under-15s and under-18s combined. The atmosphere was great, with everyone chatting to each other and helping each other over the weekend.
I competed in all the categories and performed my personal best in all of them, which I was excited about. I borrowed a rifle from Dennis, the SSAA Para Air Captain. I had never shot with his rifle before and it really improved my performance.
Jordan Robinson, one of the under-18 competitors, was a great help mentoring me over the weekend. I will miss her at the next one as she will be 18 years of age then. The parents and caregivers also helped out by changing targets and scoring, which was really great to see and was a great help to the organisers and compotators.
In the Silhouette shoot, I shot equal 25 with another competitor and had to have a shoot-off. The shoot-off was very nerve racking and my legs would not stop shaking. Once I hit the ram target, I felt relief then I was excited when I heard another ‘ping’ from the other competitor. Then with the turkey targets, I heard a ‘ping’ and got scared as I had not shot yet. I had to put my rifle down a few times and breathe then I took my shot, I heard a ‘ping’ and was very relieved. With the pig targets, the other competitor took her shot and hit, while I missed. I was very proud of the both of us as we both shot really well.
On the Saturday night, we had pizza and a quiz night. Everyone seemed to have a fun time with the quiz night as there was lots of laughing and chatting among everyone. Everyone who attended over the weekend received a prize off the prize table too.
I would not be where I am today with my shooting if it were not for Dennis, Rod, Jordan, Brett and my parents, who have helped and mentored me along my journey so far. I look forward to the National Junior Challenge next year to see all the friends I made over the weekend.