The results are in and what a great occasion this year’s SSAA National Long Range Precision Championships was at the Port Lincoln Rifle Club over the last weekend of July.
Long Range Precision is rapidly becoming a popular sport in Australia, with more shooters and hunters taking a keen interest in shooting targets and game at greater distance. While the Long Range Precision discipline is conducted on the range, the shoot simulates a hunting environment where competitors are required to take environmental factors into account, to land ‘first-shot hits’ on the target. Shooters fire five rounds at the target at a designated range, before it is scored and patched. This is done five times at each distance, with medals awarded for every distance, day aggregate and overall aggregate.
The National Championships consists of two Field classes, namely A class and Hunter class. Hunter class is limited to ‘off-the-shelf’ hunting rifles with a maximum weight of 4.6kg, while A class can be modified up to a maximum weight of 8.5kg. Competitors are restricted to folding bipods and lightweight bags, as would be carried in the field, and the shoot is conducted from the prone position - remember, this shoot is simulating a hunting environment. Competitors have seven minutes to fire their five rounds for each string.
This year, the venue for the Championships was the Port Lincoln Rifle Club Inc. The South Australian city is more commonly known for its abundant seafood, tuna, oysters, prawns and abalone, not to mention the great white sharks, Port Lincoln is a popular tourist destination, attracting travellers from all over the globe. Getting there is easy, with a well appointed airport and direct flights from Adelaide. Firearms are also welcome, checked in of course.
The Coomunga range currently caters for six lanes out to 900 yards, with distances shot over the two-day shoot at 500, 600, 800 and 900 yards. While the weather was not the kindest, the shooting was great fun. There was a little rain on Saturday, but shooters were determined to stick it out in the conditions, rather than duck into the cover of the clubhouse. Wet weather gear came out and the shooting continued. Competition was tight on day one, with few points dropped at 500 yards. Shooters were still able to group shots at 600 yards in rain and wind, with most shooters seeing their shots off in less than two minutes (quicker when wet).
Day two became interesting, with gusty winds making it difficult to judge conditions for the 800- and 900-yard shoot. Shooters found themselves adding and removing windage for the whole day, trying to make sense of the varying conditions. The Port Lincoln range was hard to read, due to uneven wind breaks, giving shooters a false sense of security from the firing line. At the end of the day, it was the larger calibre rifles that were able to hold up to the wind, that came home with the points.
Port Lincoln Rifle Club members were on close hand with hot soup, cooked lunch and drinks throughout the days and the fire pit at the clubhouse was a welcome retreat to warm the body between shoots and at the end of the day.
The National Championships proved to be extremely popular among local and interstate shooters, with competitors travelling from as far as Tasmania for the match. The Port Lincoln Rifle Club is very thankful to the SSAA SA Branch for its assistance and support in holding the National Championships, providing an extensive prize table and assisting the club in preparing the range for the shoot. Overall, it was a great weekend, loads of fun, and an exciting discipline.
Gold: Trenton Hardie
Silver: Paul Beale
Bronze: Andrew Hay
Gold H Class: James Spooner
Gold 500 yards: Paul Beale
Gold 600 yards: Richard Linton
Gold 800 and 900 yards: Trenton Hardie
Gold 500, 600, 800 and 900: all James Spooner
Day 1 500- and 600-yard Aggregate
Gold: Paul Beale
Silver: Andrew Hay
Bronze: Richard Linton
H Class Gold: James Spoone
Day 2 800- and 900-yard Aggregate
Gold: Trenton Hardie
Silver: Brad Porter
Bronze: Paul Beale
H Class Gold: James Spooner
Gold: Trenton Hardie, Paul Beale
Silver: Andrew Hay, Brad Porter
Bronze: Richard Linton, James Spooner