Alberta in Canada was the setting for this year’s Benchrest World Championships, with three Australian teams competing against representatives from 16 countries who shot two events for both light and heavy varmint class rifles, the event most notable for the fact that all 12 Aussies were among the medals.
The Rosebud Range is set in forest country about 50km from Calgary and upon arrival competitors were given a lecture on bear safety by a Forest Ranger. Practice day make it clear teamwork would be vital to master tricky conditions and the Aussies spent the day figuring out what approach would prove best for success.
In the 100yd Light Rifle event numerous tight groups were the order of the day, the best of them a magnificent .059 by Frenchman Carlos Pacheco for a new world record. Aggregate victory went to Jeff Graves of the US, best of the Aussies being Brendan Atkinson (7th) and Milan Morrell (9th). In the team event the Australia A line-up of Atkinson, Ean Parsons, Steve Sori and Darren Parsons finished second.
The following day brought the 100yd Heavy Rifle class where again small groups came thick and fast, the standout a tidy .113 by Pascal Fishbach of France. Yardage was won by Finland’s Jari Laulumaa and some superb shooting by the Australia B team saw them take the yardage gold medal. Five Aussies in the top 20 were led by Will Greer (7th) and Dave McKillop (8th).
The next two days were contested at the longer yardage range and in deteriorating weather, Jack Neary of the US setting a new world record in Light Rifle with an impressive .110 but even that was topped by his countryman Joel Nader who shot a staggering .1325 aggregate, another world best figure which had onlookers in disbelief. Australia A just missed out on the medals in fourth.
The Heavy Rifle class was played out in very testing conditions but the Australia C quartet pulled out all the stops to take gold, Bill Jupp and Bob Bissett placing second and third respectively, ably backed by Keith Sewell (9th) and Gavin Marshall (11th). Australia A and B finished third and seventh respectively, the individual title going to Bob Scarborough Jr (US).
In the grand aggregates for Light Rifle the Australia A team finished third, B seventh and C 13th while in the Heavy Rifle class Australia C took second, A fourth and B sixth. In the all-important 2-Gun team event Australia A finished third, B fifth and C eighth, all in all an excellent outcome for the talented Aussie squad.