Western Australia pair Matthew Boots and Keigan Williams dominated proceedings in the 2017 SSAA National Scoped 3-Positional and Field Rifle Championships at Eagle Park Range in Little River, Victoria, over the Easter weekend. Eagle Park has a reputation for windy conditions but didn’t throw its worst at the competitors during this particular meeting. In fact, the weather was pretty tame compared to many other outings at the venue. The sound of rolling thunder over the hill could be heard as the shooters on the public range let loose with some of the larger calibres and also within the Centrefire events.
The competition started on Thursday, April 12 with the NRA 3x40 Smallbore match. Conditions were probably the best that the range has seen at Easter for some time and while there was wind blowing around, it wasn’t as bad as a few were led to believe. WA’s Boots took out the Prone (398.25) and Standing (384.08) positions with team-mate and Under-18 entrant Williams winning the Kneeling (377.10). Boots and Williams came first and second overall with 1158.45 and 1139.34 respectively, while Victorian Elise Collier claimed third spot with 1131.30.
Field Rifle Centrefire was next on the schedule on Good Friday with a light to moderate wind pushing shots to the right at 200m but not having much effect out to 100m. South Australian Ashlea McCarthy won the Rapid Fire with 99.03, Boots took out the Offhand with 98.01, Williams stole the Standing Post Rest position with 99.00 and Veselko Talajic (WA) came strongly in the end to grab the Sitting Post Rest Position with 100.02. Aggregate winners were Boots (388.06), second was Ashlea McCarthy on 388.04 and third Williams with 383.00.
Scoped 3-Positional Rimfire was underway on Saturday and the temperature was colder than cold in the morning. Everyone was wearing almost every piece of clothing they had because of the bitter wind that followed through. The breeze was pushing shots all over the place. Boots won the Prone (194.06) and Offhand positions (183.00) with Josh Taylor (Vic) taking out the Sitting/Kneeling with 191.04. Aggregate winners were Boots on 567.10, second was Elise Collier (Vic) with 561.05 and third Talajic, tallying 543.02. There was no shooters’ dinner at this year’s event so all involved went to a hotel in Lara for some socialising and banter.
Field Rifle Rimfire was the match pencilled in for Sunday and conditions were warmer with less wind but that didn’t stop various people from throwing the odd shot. The position awards were collected by four different people, enabling them to gain points towards entry into the Field Rifle Hall of Fame. Rapid Fire was taken out by David McCarthy (SA) with 96.01, Offhand by Boots with 100.02, Standing Post Rest by Ashlea McCarthy with 96.02, as a result of a shoot-off with Talajic, and Sitting Post Rest by Bill O’Connor (Vic) with 99.01. Aggregate winners were David McCarthy with 385.06, Alex Brace (NSW) second with 381.03 and third was Boots with 380.10 as a result of a countback with Elise Collier.
The Field Rifle 2-Gun results were completed after this match and the competition was very tight with Boots landing first on 768.16, Ashlea McCarthy second on 767.09 and David McCarthy third with 766.11.
The Junior Rimfire 2-Gun outcome saw first position go to Williams with 911.13. Runner-up was Suthasinee (Sinee) Khanprasert (ACT) with 856.05, while third place was earned by Michael Collier (Vic) with 751.02. At the close of the day, a number of competitors from all states descended upon the Sanctuary Lakes Hotel for a buffet dinner and yet more friendly chat.
Scoped 3-Positional Centrefire was the final event contested on Monday and you couldn’t have asked for better conditions at this range. The shooting Gods were clearly smiling over this weekend, but that didn’t stop the odd mistake being made or the occasional gust of wind coming through right when you didn’t really want. It hardly seemed to affect Boots though, with wins in the Prone (199.05), Offhand (185.02), and Sitting/Kneeling (200.06) positions giving him first place in the Aggregate with 584.13. Second was Elise Collier, on 551.04, and third Williams with 549.08. The Scoped 3-Positional 2-Gun results came out shortly after the day’s events and first spot went to Boots on 1151.23, second Elise Collier, who scored 1112.09, and third Williams on 1087.18.
The National 4-Gun results were finalised shortly after the 2-Gun and again, for the seventh year in a row, the National Field Rifle and Scoped 3-Positional Champion was Boots with 1919.39. Second was Elise Collier, on 1874.22, and third Williams, with 1843.21. In the Junior division, the 2017 National Champion was Williams, who logged 1843.21. Behind him was Michael Collier, on 1450.02, and third Khanprasert with 1440.07.
A number of records were broken over the championships to add to one at the PRSC in November 2016, all of them going to Williams, who smashed the Australian Junior NRA Kneeling record with 391.10 at the 2016 PRSC, the Australian and National Junior Centrefire Field Rifle Standing Post record with 99.00, and the National and Australian Junior Centrefire Field Rifle Aggregate record with 383.00. He also snared the National and Australian Junior Field Rifle 2-Gun record with 756.03. It was a sterling effort from a talented, up-and-coming junior shooter.
Thanks go to Mark Butler (Vic), who ran the range for the entire weekend, which takes an enormous effort. Not many individuals can pull off what Mark did. Also deserving to take a bow are Jenny Emery (Victoria State Chairman), all those who assisted in target changing, scoring and especially those who helped out but didn’t shoot, Katie Twining (Vic), who chased all monies owed and made reservations at the hotels for dinner. Plus a special thanks to Amy McMahon (Vic), who was indispensable over the weekend. It’s wonderful to have back-up from an individual who knows exactly what she is doing and can figure out the scoring program and make changes where needed. She cannot be praised enough. Amy was even gathering shot targets, scoring, entering the data and updating grading cards. In addition, she took the minutes for the National Subcommittee Meeting, helped fill and scan all award claim forms, shot the entire championships and lowered stress levels among fellow organisers considerably among other things.