Although 2014 was an ‘off year’ for sending the Australian Open and Graded Shotgun Teams to New Zealand to contest the two Trans Tasman trophies at the New Zealand COMPAK Championships, the SSAA Shotgun Discipline decided to partially fund an Open Team to make the trip to build upon and nurture the links that have been developed over the years between SSAA 5-Stand shooters and their New Zealand counterparts. The Open Team was supported by other SSAA members who comprised a mixed team. Both Open Teams were selected using established local selection processes, while the New Zealand organisers put together an equivalent mixed team to contest the Aussie team.
The two-day New Zealand COMPAK Championships were preceded by the South Island COMPAK Championships, with a further 100-target warm-up COMPAK Shoot before that making four great days of Sporting Clays shooting. The Championships were held on a farm inland from Oamaru on the South Island, where the hosts had set up five COMPAK layouts. One layout was used each day on a rotational basis for practice. While the weather remained surprisingly good for the four days, there were times when strong, gusty winds played havoc with the targets, but the predicted heavy rain, hail and snow luckily never eventuated.
The championships were attended by about 80 competitors, which included 10 SSAA members and several other Aussies. Overall attendance was down on previous years, with fewer locals able to travel to the south of the South Island and no competitors from New Caledonia and other South Pacific nations.
As usual, the New Zealand organisers prepared some really excellent targets to test everyone. There was an excellent variety of targets with different angles and speeds that twisted and turned with the added difficulty of shooting over crops in open paddocks with a neutral background. SSAA competitors demonstrated that they were up to dealing with these types of targets in the three events.
In the 100-target warm-up event, 13-year-old Mikayla Macartney was first on 63, followed by Jan Jacka with 62 in the Ladies section, while Greg Allen was fifth in A Grade (86) and Warren Brown third in B Grade (75).
This was followed by the South Island COMPAK Championships, where Brent Suprain claimed second in B Grade with 84, while Mikayla Macartney again posted a great score coming second in Ladies and Juniors with 75.
In the New Zealand COMPAK Championships, Brent Suprain shot extremely well to be first in B Grade with 151/200, with Vicki Johnson third on 140 and Mikayla Macartney second in C grade with 117. The standout SSAA competitors were Mikayla Macartney and Brent Suprain, who both performed exceptionally well in their first international competition. The NZ New Zealand were won again by expatriate British champion Mark Vassey with a superb score of 184.
In the Open Team shoot-off, the New Zealand Team prevailed over the Australian Team of Brent Suprain, Greg Allen, Peter Jacka, Darren Macartney and Brett Inch scoring 109 to 101 targets. The Australian Mixed Team of Jan Jacka, Mikayla Macartney, Vicka Johnstone, Warren Brown and Malcolm Price produced a winning score of 98 to 87 targets. Among all the usual shoot prizes, Mikayla Macartney and Warren Brown were also lucky enough to win a prize of a helicopter sightseeing ride over the Canterbury Plains of North Otago.
After renewing old friendships and developing new ones at Oamaru, all SSAA members are looking forward to another Trans Tasman COMPAK Championships, which will be held at the Waikato Gun Club in Hamilton on the North Island next November.