The 2016 SSAA Big Game Rifle National Championships entered new territory when hosted by SSAA South Australia. This was the first time the BGR Nationals have been held in the state and it was a great weekend over May 21 and 22. The competition took place at the Monarto Range, which is about 50km to the east of Adelaide. It is a great venue, nice and flat with plenty of space.
This occasion also heralded another first for Big Game Rifle, in that the tournament was spread over two days rather than just the Saturday as in the past. The main reason for this was to try to inject some more interest into our BGR Nationals by having a number of supplementary events, which do not go to the National Championship aggregate.
The weekend saw 20 shooters nominate for the various groupings, with Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia represented. Saturday started with the four Stalking challenges from the BGR core competition. This was followed by the Charging Lion and Charging Buffalo events. Both of these tasks involved an advancing target on an overhead wire. The target came quickly and diagonally across the front of the shooter. For the lion target the shooter only had two shots, with the board already moving before the firearm could be raised. On the buffalo target each entrant had three shots, the first was at the stationary target. Then on the report of the first shot, the target started to advance with a further two shots while it was moving. Overall, it was great fun and it certainly created a lot of interest. Hopefully more of this type of action can be installed on other SSAA ranges.
Saturday night brought a three-course presentation dinner in the clubhouse. There was a generous prize table for the evening and every competitor had a turn picking an award using a raffle system to draw numbers. Each competitor also received a memento in the form of a presentation cartridge mounted on a board with the shoot details engraved.
Sunday morning started with a Camp Rifle competition. The idea behind this was to simulate a bush camping scene where a shooter might leave camp for a short stroll, only carrying the ‘camp rifle’. In this case the camp rifles were all Lithgow single-shot .22 rimfires. The course of fire involved rapid loading and fast shots. Most of those involved had almost forgotten how to use a single-shot .22, so it was an interesting session. The Camp Rifle event also included a ladies section, with one female competitor beating her husband, which may be mentioned from time to time in that household.
The four Stopping Rifle shoots completed the eight core events for the BGR Nationals. All the categories were finished in time for a late lunch and the medal presentations. The Overall Champion was Graeme Wright, from Queensland, with Bob Christopher, Victoria, in second and Mark Hibbert, another Queenslander, in third place. In the teams event, it was Victoria who claimed top spot. Queensland was second, with SA third.
A large thank you goes out to SSAA South Australia President David Handyside and the members of the Big Game Rifle Club of SA for putting on a great weekend.