The tradition of the Australia Day Benchrest Competition continued this year, with around 50 shooters travelling to the nation’s capital looking for honours. From its debut year in 1980, this event has risen to be second in importance to the National Championships on the Benchrest shooting calendar.
Canberra turned on some light to medium weather conditions with no rain and tolerable humidity. It was worth noting that the small groups at 100 and 200 yards were all under two-tenths of an inch and half-an-inch respectively. This is evidence of the high standard of Benchrest shooting in this country.
The Light Benchrest event for rifles not exceeding 10.5lb (4.76kg) was held on the Saturday starting at 100 yards. Robin Elton put down a .164 to give the field something to chase and on the D target Darren Parsons managed a .125 group, which no-one bettered. However, the race for the aggregate showed a clear winner with Steve Blaine’s .2246 comfortably ahead of Mitchell Tallar and Thomas Spang.
Moving out to 200 yards, it was Elton again showing the way with a tidy .290 group. Blaine bettered this on his D target, but Will Greer waited until the E target to take smallest group with a .254 effort. Once again Blaine took the aggregate with a .2302 from Ean Parsons and Tallar.
It was no surprise that Blaine won the Grand Aggregate after a very solid performance. Tallar was second with two good finishes in the aggregates and Spang landed third place.
Sunday morning saw the start of the Heavy Benchrest event for rifles not exceeding 13.5lb (6.12kg). Conditions were lighter than the previous day and the size of the groups certainly indicated this. John Huckel made a great start, winning the first two relays with groups of .132 and .146, but Roger Marshall bettered this with a .130 on his C target, which no-one could beat. The battle for the shorter range aggregate saw some great scores, with Greer taking it out with a brilliant .1870, from Elton on .1926 and Brendan Atkinson on .2098.
In the final aggregate, with everyone striving to do well, there were some amazing groups shot. Paul Sullivan kicked it off with a .286 group (that’s five shots at 200 yards), but the smallest went to Elton with a .252 effort. Elton also won the aggregate with a .1924, from Sullivan on .2081 and Ean Parsons on .2218.
A pair of 19 aggregates is hard to beat and Elton won the Heavy Benchrest event from Sullivan and Greer, with the rest of the field strung out behind.
Elton was a popular winner of the coveted Bob Daniels Memorial Shield for the 2-Gun Aggregate. He had won this shoot way back in 1981, so it has been a long time between drinks. Tallar was second and is definitely knocking on the door of a major win. Blaine held onto third place, helped along with a good win in the Light Benchrest event.