This year’s SSAA National Muzzleloading Championships were hosted by the Perth Muzzle Loading Club (PMLC) at the Wanneroo Shooting Complex in Western Australia from April 14 to 17. The PMLC team was looking forward to the arrival of competitors and families from the eastern states, some of whom flew and others drove. In the case of the sole Queensland representative, the trip for Des and Marcie Prowse was a five-week odyssey, while the NSW guys drove and members of the SA team flew and came by road.
Thursday was a practice day for shooters to acclimatise to the beautiful WA weather before competition the next day, as well as reminisce about moments and incidents from past championships.
The handgun events commenced on Friday for Percussion Revolvers and Pistols plus Flintlock (Firelock) Pistols both rifled and smoothbored. Des Prowse (Qld) won three gold medals, Shayne Barnsley (NSW) claimed two and Calvin Sheppard, Barry Duckett and Kerwin Bee (all WA) took a gold each. Bee also set a new record of 90 for Matchlock pistols.
Following this, the shooters moved to the rifle range to finish the day off with two 50m Musket events. These were shot using the much smaller standard size target board scoring out to the 6-ring in black and 5-ring being the lowest scoring zone. In the 50m Firelock, Shayne Barnsley won gold, Frank Verdini (SA) silver and Alan Groom (SA) took bronze. In the 50m Open Musket, Verdini won gold, Groom silver and Leo Laden (WA) bronze. The golds were won with scores of 85 and 89 respectively.
Saturday included the five 50m Offhand/Snap events for Class 1 Military and Class 2 Traditional Rifle and Vetterli. The gold medals were spread between three shooters: Frank Della and Justin McGowan (WA) won two each and Tim Rogers (SA) secured one.
The targets were moved to 100m and a lunch break taken. During the interval, an official opening ceremony was held and attended by SSAA WA President Ron Bryant, while a core group of Perth Volunteer Rifle and Artillery Regiment (PVRAR) personnel added some color. Laden shared some memorable happenings from previous National and World Championships while the Regimental mountain cannon was loaded and then a cannon blast and Enfield volley provided a final despatch of Muzzleloading’s sadly missed SA comrade John Humberstone. Apparently, John also enjoyed the trip across the Nullarbor Plain on the ute dashboard driven by two of his SA colleagues.
Competition recommenced with Class 1 and 2 100m Benchrest and Prone/X-Sticks. McGowan seemed unstoppable with four golds, Groom pocketed two silvers, while Des Prowse and Shayne Barnsley won one each. Bronze went to Peter Watson, Des Prowse, Vlad Potezny and Della.
After a sunset barbecue, the AGM was held in the PMLC clubroom, where Kim Atkinson was voted in for another term as SSAA Muzzleloading National Discipline Chairman. Attendees also received an interesting overview of the MLAIC workings and its international involvement and connections worldwide.
On Sunday, the Firelock Rifle events were held. The 50m Offhand was won by Della, followed by Des Prowse and McGowan. The 50m Kneeling was taken out by Potezny, followed by McGowan and Verdini, while the 100m Prone went to McGowan, ahead of Verdini and Potezny.