There has been an informal round of international Big Game Rifle competitions operating every two years since 2006. In a large part, this has been spearheaded by SSAA Big Game Rifle shooters from Australia and has been encouraged and supported by SSAA National in the form of affiliations and overseas team funding.
The September 2008 match was held in Wisconsin in the United States. In 2010, an international match took place at the British Sporting Rifle Club in Bisley in the United Kingdom, and in 2012, another was held at the Pretoria Practical Shooting Club outside Pretoria in South Africa. Previously, the match format had also been included in the Vintagers Shoot in the US.
This year, the international match was hosted by the Big Game Rifle Club of Victoria at the SSAA Little River Range near Melbourne on September 6 and 7. Participating countries were Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Zimbabwe and the UK. The range is remote in a generally open area surrounded by scrub, bush, some agricultural land and woodland. In spite of the remote location, the facilities are excellent. In all, 65 shooters nominated with 12 overseas entries.
The competition was arranged into five core events, including Special Snap, Stalking Rifle, Stopping Double Rifle, Group Two and Pop Up Lion. The overall winner was the person who had the best three percentage scores from these core events. Pop Up Lion was a new event and required a lot of work and effort on the part of the Big Game Rifle Club. At rest, the targets were lying flat and when required were driven up to the vertical position by a pneumatic system. The event was great fun, with the lion appearing for 10 seconds, during which the shooter was allowed two shots. The target then disappeared for five seconds, allowing for a reload, and then reappeared for another 10 seconds. This was repeated three times for each shooter.
Each country was also invited to nominate a three-person team. With only one representative from both New Zealand and Zimbabwe, some Aussies had to be ‘lent’ to these teams to make up the numbers.
In addition to the core events, there were two special interest events, Black Powder Stopper and Nitro Stopper, which proved to be great spectator events, with lots of muzzle flashes and smoke.
Prizes were given for first, second and third place in each event. The prize pool was fantastic and demonstrated great support from a large number of businesses and organisations, including African Hunting Gazette, Beretta Australia, Bertram Bullets, Herron Security and Sporting, Holland & Holland, John Rigby & Co Gunmakers Ltd, Kynamco (Kynoch ammunition), Marian Rennie, Nioa, Outdoor Sporting Agencies, Safari and Outdoor South Africa, Swarovski Australia, SSAA Victoria, Victoria Arms, Winchester Australia, Woodleigh Bullets and World Safari Xpeditions.
After the two days of events, Zimbabwean Clive Conolly came away as the overall winner. In second place was Bob Christopher (Vic) and Graeme Wright (Qld) in third. The Australian team of Bob Christopher, Graeme Wright and Lance Eastwood (Vic) managed to hold onto first place. This was followed by New Zealand, Zimbabwe, the UK and South Africa.
On the social side, the first day’s shooting was followed by a splendid barbecue, while the second day featured the prize giving and a sit down dinner in the clubhouse with a wonderful hog roast as the centrepiece. The BGRC Victoria ladies received an ovation for the superb meal. It was great to catch up with old friends and make new ones.
During the two-day shoot, a lot of background networking was held to secure the future of Big Game Rifle shooting worldwide. One of the objectives was to form a standing committee to adopt a set of aims and objectives, organise and promote a two-yearly competition and formulate a set of rules. On Saturday afternoon, a meeting was called and the assembled shooters gave their unanimous support for the formation of an International Committee. The International Committee will comprise two members from each participating country. The shoot will rotate around the participating countries on a two-yearly basis, and the Chairmanship of the Committee will always go to the next host country. It was decided that the next International Match would be in the UK, hosted by the BSRC at Bisley in September 2016, and the Committee Chairman for the next two years will be BSRC’s Derek Stimpson.
Overall, the 5th International Big Game Rifle Match was a great two-day shoot. It was very well run and well supported by both shooters and sponsors. A very big thank you to the BGRC Committee and the BGRC members, their partners, family and friends who helped. Thank you especially to BGRC President Neil Hibble. A huge amount of effort goes into a weekend of this magnitude and without the commitment of these people, a shoot of this nature simply would not happen.
by SSAA Big Game Rifle National Discipline Chairman Graeme Wright