The second Pacific Regional Shooting Championships took place near Brisbane in November of 2008. Following on from a successful series of events in 2006, the organisers sent out invitations to eligible countries with a view to increasing international attendance. In addition to the Australian teams, we had teams present from New Zealand and Samoa - the Samoan boys really stood out with their colorful clothing and happy nature. The Samoans did not bring firearms with them, as arrangements had been made for suitable rifles with which to compete.
Competitions were conducted for International Rimfire Benchrest, Centrefire Benchrest, Air Rifle, Rimfire Silhouette, Centrefire Silhouette, Rimfire Hunter Rifle, NRA Rimfire events and SSAA 3-Positional. Events were held on the SSAA Belmont and SSAA Ripley complexes. Practice days were held and these included a couple of demonstrations of Field Rifle and the new Cowboy Lever Action Silhouette Rifle disciplines.
A championship like this requires a lot of assistance and many volunteers pitched in and helped out in running the events and the behind-the-scenes activities that made up this year’s PRSC.
International Rimfire Benchrest
The International Rimfire Benchrest match had three two-person teams from Australia and two teams from New Zealand. The New Zealanders did not bring rimfire rifles with them and they were lent rifles by Australian competitors. There were 10 competitors competing in this match, plus another 25 entrants who elected to shoot along with them for a chance at a record and individual recognition.
This new match requires shooters to shoot three targets, one at a time, which have 25 scoring bullseyes on them. One shot is placed on each ‘bull’ and shooters strive for the highest possible score. A time of 30 minutes is allotted for each target, which means that with sighters fired, one needs to get a hurry on to finish in time.
There were some extraordinary rimfire rifles on the line, showing some of the latest in Rimfire Benchrest accuracy technology. Many of these rifles cost more to build than a Benchrest centrefire rifle. Match-grade ammunition from Eley, Federal and Lapua was seen on the benches and many rifles were fitted with tuners to take advantage of the best batches of ammo.
Two new National IRB records were set during this event. Ray Edwards from Western Australia shot an individual target score of 250.13x and Annie Elliott from Queensland shot an overall three target score of 738.27x.
The Benchrest match for Light and Heavy Varmint was run in conjunction with the Harry Madden Memorial match and attracted an overall attendance of 56 competitors in each event. Mixed among them were three teams of two shooting for Australia and two teams of two shooting for New Zealand. New Zealand has a small but very keen group of Benchrest shooters, but can always be counted on to put up a strong showing.
Due to some construction work, the range had some new wind condition tricks for the shooters, but it was the temperature and oppressive humidity on the Friday practice and Saturday Light Varmint match that affected most of them. Nevertheless, some fine shooting was done and Max Coady (National Benchrest scorer) was kept busy measuring a steady stream of targets.
Many fine Benchrest outfits were seen on the line, with some really state-of-the-art equipment on display. Australian Benchresters took advantage of the strong Aussie dollar and bought some of the latest developments from the USA.
The battle between the teams was a good one, with the final result in doubt until very late in the event. The New Zealand team of Ian Owen and Tony Titheridge shot well, but in the end, they could not quite catch the Australia C team of David Kerr and Paul Sullivan.
Combined Services Rifle
The Combined Service Rifle events took place at the Ripley Range near Ipswich in Queensland. This is a remarkable layout, with spacious ranges, excellent natural backstops and a comfortable clubhouse and facilities. The timing of the event was fortuitous, as two weeks after the shoot was held, the entire range was cut off by floodwaters!
Service Rifle attracts enthusiasts of older military rifles such as the 6.5x55 Mauser, .303 British and 7.62x54R Mosin Nagant, to name just a few. Many of these rifles are still in excellent condition and with a bit of care from their owners, can turn out very respectable scores in the hands of a competent shooter. There are quite strict requirements as to just which rifles can compete, so it always pays to check with your club before purchasing something that might not comply.
This was the first year that Service Rifle was contested. Service Rifle matches are shot from the standing, sitting, squatting, kneeling and prone positions all unsupported. Competitors use standard-issue service rifles, with most preferring Swedish Mausers, while some use .303s. The targets used are the Combined Services Discipline Core Target and Mini Core Target.
Practice was conducted on the Tuesday afternoon and upon completion, the range was set with the new targets for the next day’s competition. The official welcome of the New Zealand and Australian teams and individual competitors was conducted by the Combined Services National Discipline chairman Stephen Heidrich and the official jury member Les Armitage.
Competition commenced and with the range set-up, all competitors competed shoulder-to-shoulder in all events. Close competition ensued during the day, with overcast conditions and fine, misty rain making conditions quite pleasant.
There were three Australian two-person teams and one team from New Zealand. Competition was fierce - in the Rapid Fire event, only Peter Brown managed a possible score. In the Snap B event, there were four possible scores, but no-one managed one in the Snap A. In the 300m Deliberate event, only Greg Mills-Thom shot a possible. Fortunes changed for many during the various events and the trick was to maintain consistency. Andrew Brown managed to do just that and led the field home.
The Australia B team of Andrew Brown and Greg Mill-Thom won the Teams event comfortably from Australia A’s Phil Oakford and Peter Brown and third home was the Australia C team of Anthony Wilson and Ian Allwood.
Congratulations go to all the teams, including the team from New Zealand who, although they used borrowed rifles, still obtained creditable scores. A special mention must also be made of the achievements of Andrew Brown, a junior from Grafton, who is about to turn 18 and who swept all before him. Well done!
Shooters competing in the SSAA Centrefire (60 shots) individuals event are required to shoot 20 shots in the positions of prone, standing and kneeling. Great skill, precision and patience are required to do well at this event. At the end of the day, it was a narrow win to Australia’s Kadiejayne Tirkot on a score of 574 with 11 x-rings, just three x-rings ahead of New Zealand’s Brenda Perry. Australia’s Chris Gulvin came third with 565.9x.
The NRA Anysights (3x40) individual event also requires the same shooting positions as the SSAA 3-Positional Centrefire match. Australia’s Chris Gulvin showed a clean pair of heels in this event with an overall score of 1167.43x. Rod Frisby came second on 1155.36x and David McCarthy just squeezed into third with a score of 1154.44x. This event was shot in quite windy conditions, which hampers good scores in any event and more so when trying to hold a positional stance.
Rifle Metallic Silhouette
The Rifle Metallic Silhouette shooters started on the Wednesday with a demonstration of the Cowboy Lever Action Silhouette Rifle match. This match is only new to the SSAA and was run as a demonstration, as it only requires a 200m range. This will enable New Zealand to conduct Centrefire matches, as they don’t have any traditional 500m Silhouette ranges. The Australians who had rifles loaned them to the New Zealand and Samoan competitors and also assisted the international competitors with spotting and settings.
Thursday was the beginning of the match with Air Rifle being contested. Matthew Everingham once more displayed his skill with his air rifle only missing three turkeys all day. He also set new PRSC long-run records on both the rams and pigs. The Samoan team had their first experience shooting Air Rifle, with nearly all of them being presented with a bronze proficiency medal. The New Zealand competitors have embraced Air Rifle since the first PRSC, with members of the team having their own rifles and they have also included Air Rifle in their own 2008 Nationals for the first time.
Friday, we went to Ripley Range where a rimfire range had been constructed for this event. It was a credit to SSAA Queensland and the workers Steve and Leanne, as it was a top-class range. The first day was to contest Rimfire Silhouette with Dann Suthern winning the day’s matches. The temperature climbed steadily through the day and was in excess of 42C at one stage.
Saturday was once again out to Ripley, but this time, it was for the Rimfire Hunting gun matches. The endurance needed to compete day after day was taking its toll on some competitors and the humidity was making it uncomfortable. However, everyone was still having a ball. Mal Smith shot two scores over 30, which held out the other competitors.
There were some outstanding personal achievements during the Championships, ranging from Matthew Everingham’s 73 rams straight in Air Rifle to the one junior individual Philip Spedding who shot personal bests in every event.