Trans-Tasman bragging rights were on the line when the 6th Pacific Regional Shooting Championships were held at the SSAA ACT Majura Range in Canberra from November 2 to 12, 2016. The number of arrivals from New Zealand was down compared to previous years but there was still some enthralling shooting to take in over the course of the event.
The New Zealand contingent concentrated on the Rifle Metallic Silhouette discipline in which they had a full complement of shooters with six visitors split into three teams of two to take on their Australian hosts. There were non-international team members as well, who competed as individuals. The gathering brought a poignant moment for New Zealander Geoff Brewer and his Aussie counterpart Darius Krivanek as the occasion marked the 30th year since they had first shot against each other at Victoria’s Little River.
Proceedings were underway after an opening ceremony performed by SSAA National Secretary Kaye McIntyre, who was also Tournament Director. The shooters were then welcomed to the Jim McKinley Range by SSAA ACT President Dave True.
Rifle Metallic Silhouette
First blood went to the Aussies in the Air Rifle. Dann Suthern (Australia B) took out the individual prize with an aggregate of 69. Runner-up was Michael Andronis (Australia A) on 64, with Krivanek (Australia C) third with 63.
In the Air Rifle teams, Australia B (Suthern and Theo Cassidy) sewed up top spot with a 129 aggregate. Second was Australia A (Alex Brace and Andronis) on 125, while a tally of 120 earned third berth for Krivanek and Tony Powell, who made up Australia C. The New Zealanders battled hard but missed out on the medal places, which was to be a recurring theme.
The Aussies dominated in the Rimfire Silhouette Heavy Rifle standings. Top of the pile was again Suthern, with a 62 aggregate, but he had to share the accolades with his Australia B team-mate Cassidy, who also had 62. This meant they took out the team section with a 124 score. Next individual was Powell, on 60. Team runners-up were Krivanek and Powell (Australia C) who clocked 118, ahead of Brace and Andronis (Australia A), with 106.
Suthern triumphed in the Rimfire Silhouette Light Rifle category with his 64 score beating 63 shared by Powell and Cassidy. Australia B (Suthern and Cassidy) headed the rest with their 127 aggregate well in front of Australia B (Brace and Andronis), who managed 114, with third-placed Australia C (Krivanek and Powell) on 107.
Suthern kept up the good work in the Silhouette 3-Gun. This time his 195 aggregate kept him beyond the reach of Cassidy (185) and Powell (180). On the teams ladder, the Suthern-Cassidy amalgamation reigned supreme on the 380 mark. There was a thrilling outcome for silver medal spot with Brace and Adonis unable to be separated from Krivanek and Powell with the rivals finishing tied on 345.
Again, the gallant New Zealand outfits finished out of medal contention, which left Brewer to lament their ill luck. “So it is all over until next time but our performance didn’t match what we were hoping for,” said Brewer. “We would like to thank the Australian team for their sportsmanship and friendliness, plus Kaye, Juddy (Andrew Judd) and Con (Smith) for all the hard work they put into planning and running these championships. We really enjoy this level of competition.”
Elsewhere, the Aussie contingent continued to share out the spoils. Top individual in the Service Rifle was Matthew Lewis, with a two-day aggregate of 640.60. Runner-up was Greg de Koning, who tallied 636.38. Third prize was claimed by Ben Doherty on 629.42.
Lewis combined with Owen Ismail to collect the team prize under the moniker of Australia B with an overall reading of 1268.107. Behind were de Koning and Doherty (Australia A) who scored 1265.080. That sent them clear of Australia C, which was comprised of Simon Ross and Rob Richards. In tandem they notched 1231.066.
It was a tight finish and from a competitor’s point of view, this discipline represents marksmanship in one of its purest forms; an open-sighted service rifle, with a heavy trigger, slow lock time, a barrel shrouded and supported by timberwork and usually chambered in a cartridge that provides significant recoil, is much harder to master than, say, a modern sporting rifle with a higher velocity, flatter shooting cartridge, equipped with a telescopic sight and a recoil pad.
Australia finished top dogs in the Benchrest Rimfire (IRB), where the A team of Robin Cox and John Matthews carried off the gold medal thanks to a score of 2940.148. The silver went to the B link-up of Stuart Elliott and Richard Powell (2936.137), while Australia C’s Joy Harrison and Bill Simmons did enough with 2916.105 to come home third. Cox landed the individual honour (1478.076), followed by Elliott (1477.073) and Matthews (1462.072).
Despite the trying, windy conditions there was plenty of support and encouragement between the rival shooters. So it was great to see promising SSAA junior Mel Frost put in such a heartening performance in the Benchrest Rimfire, when she finished with an aggregate of 1416.035.
The annual SSAA Benchrest Coady Classic was held in conjunction with the PRSC Benchrest Centrefire events for individuals.
The Benchrest Centrefire Light class at 100 and 200 yards for individuals was won by Robin Elton, whose aggregate of 0.3892 took him clear of Les Fraser (0.4183) and third-placed Thomas Spang (0.4307).
In the teams wash-up, Australia C (Darren Parsons and Elton) topped the standings with 0.4113. Behind them were the A combo of Spang and Brendan Atkinson (0.4562) and Australia B duo Steve Sori and Paul Sullivan (0.5598).
Top two individual results in the Benchrest Centrefire Heavy class at 100 and 200 yards as well as the 2-Gun (LB and HB) had identical outcomes. Spang beat Parsons in both categories. Third in the HB was Atkinson while that honour in the 2-Gun went to Elton.
Team-wise, HB glory went to Australia A (Spang and Atkinson) with the C grouping of Parsons and Elton runners-up. Third were Sori and Sullivan. Parsons and Elton were too good for Spang and Atkinson in the teams 2-Gun with Sori and Sullivan third.
All shooting stopped on November 11 at 11am as the Australian and New Zealand competitors stood side by side for a minute’s silence to mark Remembrance Day.
The closing events saw the Scoped Rifle NRA Rimfire 3 Position 50m wrapped up by the Australia A partnership of Matthew Boots and Graham Bunter, who achieved 2293.82. That kept them out of the reach of the C team of Adrian Williams and Matthew Rogaloff, on 2168.49. Third were the Aussie B hopefuls, Keigan Williams and Luis Henriques (2166.51).
Individual gold meant delight for Boots, who had 1174.49, to pip Keigan Williams (1149.34) and Bunter (1115.29).
Boots repeated his success in the SSAA Centrefire 3 Position 100m where he was top individual on 575.07. Runner-up was Bunter (555.03) with Keigan Williams next in line (531.03).
Boots and Bunter grabbed the team award as a total of 1130.10 put them clear of Keigan Williams and Henriques (1045.06). The bronze placing was claimed by Adrian Williams and Rogaloff (981.03).
Away from the tensions of competition, there were evening treks for both sets of competitors to the Eagle Hawk Hotel where there was plenty of good-hearted banter. Brewer added another note of approval. “These championships are great for competitors getting together to share a few yarns,” he said. Another evening saw a barbecue served up on the range. They were fitting interludes within a biannual event, which remains one of the highlights of the SSAA competition calendar.