Three Tasmanians, 12 Western Australians, nine Queenslanders, six South Australians, eight Victorians, six New South Welshman and three ACT locals all made their respective ways to Canberra in October for the 35th SSAA/IHMSA National Championships. There were 47 entries in total, with the competition match count being 162 for Small Bore, 75 for Field Pistol and 183 for Big Bore, for a combined total of 420 over the six busy days of shooting. A big thank you to Cheyne F for all his hard work in getting the range ready for the competition. Everyone commented on how good it looked.
Small Bore and Field Pistol
Day one of competition started fine and sunny with 28C predicted, but the moderate breeze that blew all day made it feel a little cooler. Some targets blew over when the odd gust went through, but shooters managed to find alibi targets on either their own range or the adjacent one, so the shoot was not held up at all.
Top scores for the day belonged to Richard C (WA), Russell M (Qld) and Lou F (ACT) all with 38 in Production; Cheyne F (ACT) and Barry W (SA) 38 in Revolver; Gary J (WA) 25 in Standing and 39 in Unlimited; Barry W 30 in Field Pistol Production; and Richard C 28 in Field Pistol Any Sights. WA Junior Helen C and her sister Imogen shot very well in the Unlimited Any Sights match scoring 37 and 34 respectively. The highlight of the day was watching the juniors race each other out to set targets, especially the rivalry between Helen and Imogen.
Day two saw the commencement of daylight savings time and we all missed out on an hour’s sleep, except for those who had planned ahead and went to bed early. Top scores for the day went to Cheyne F 39 in Production; Joseph B (WA) 29 in Standing; Cheyne F, Wayne C (ACT) and Lance P (Vic) 39 in Unlimited; Richard C 30 in Field Pistol Production; Brian M (NSW) 30 in Field Pistol Any Sights; and 40 for Bevan D (WA), Noel W (SA) and Barry W in Unlimited Any Sights. Competing at her first Nationals away from home, Rowena C (WA) shot a very creditable 39 in Unlimited Any Sights. The juniors kept us amused again, particularly Ian C, who came racing down the watercourse beside the range, missed his footing, went over and straight up again and kept running. It must be good to be young and agile!
Day three presented mixed weather, including high cloud cover, glare and then 30C dry heat. Some coped and some didn’t and the scores reflected this. Top scores for the day were by Barry W 40 in Unlimited; and Gary J and Joseph B 40 in Unlimited Any Sights.
Shoot-offs began at 3.30pm, with Field Pistol Production up first between Barry W and Richard C. Unfortunately, when Richard got the call, he was deep inside the War Memorial with his family and could not get back in time. Revolver was next between Barry W and Cheyne F, with Cheyne emerging as the winner after the first round. Barry S (Vic) and Gianni R (Qld) vied for first and second place in A grade Production, with Barry taking first. Dominic P (WA), Drew L (Qld) and his partner Kirsten J (Qld) vied for first, second and third in AA grade. Dominic was knocked into third after the second round, and Kirsten and Drew went into the third round, where Drew finally took first and Kirsten second. Cheyne F and Gary J went into a shoot-off for first and second in the Unlimited SSAA medals, with Cheyne winning after the first round.
The scoped firearms were next for the Unlimited Any Sights shoot-off. In the first round, Gary J scored 4, Barry W and Noel W scored 2 each, and Joseph B and Bevan D scored 1 each. Gary was the outright winner and the rest lined up again for several shoot-offs, where Barry scored 4 for second place, Noel 3 for third, Joseph 4 for fourth and Bevan 3 for fifth place.
With the shoot-offs completed, it was time to finish preparing for the Big Bore practice day and then conduct the Small Bore and Field Pistol presentations. The Small Bore Open Aggregate went to Barry W on 137, the Ladies Aggregate to Judy H (Qld) on 127, and the Junior Aggregate to Lachlan M (Vic) on 109. It was great to see three juniors competing this year, with Helen C (WA) runner up on 95 and her brother Ian on 32. The Field Pistol Open Aggregate went to Barry W with 58 on a countback from Richard C. The Ladies Aggregate went to Judy H on 56 and the Junior Aggregate to Helen C on 24, with Lachlan M placing second on 21.
Day four began overcast, very windy and cold, but some good scores were posted. Geoff E (NSW), Neville E (NSW) and John H (Qld) scored 39 in Production; Russell M (Qld) 38 in Revolver; Judy H (Qld) 26 in Standing; Mick A (Vic) 40 in Unlimited; Cheyne F 39 in Unlimited Half Scale; Lance P (Vic) 25 in Unlimited Standing; Cheyne F 40 in Unlimited Any Sights; and Noel W (SA) 35 in Unlimited Any Sights Half Scale. The turkey and ram targets occasionally blew over when a stronger gust came through, but we only needed two alibis during the day as all the rest made do with targets on adjacent banks.
Lots of 40s were scored on day five: Cheyne F and Russell M in Production; Geoff E and Gary J in Unlimited; Dominic P (WA) and Gary J in Unlimited Any Sights; and two exceptional 40s by Dave L (SA) and Stuart K (SA) in Unlimited Any Sights Half Scale. Mick A had another good day with a 39 each in Revolver and Unlimited Half Scale. Bevan D upped the stakes in Unlimited Standing with a 26, while Barry W scored 26 in Standing.
More scoped firearms found their way onto the firing line for the Any Sights matches on day six, with Noel W, Bevan D and Dave L all shooting 40 in Unlimited Any Sights, and Bevan D backing up with a 39 in Unlimited Any Sights Half Scale. Judy H finished the week with an excellent 31 in Unlimited Standing, and son Cheyne F scored 40 in Unlimited.
Several shooters helped put the targets away and set up the shoot-off targets, while Brian and Johanna finished scoring. A storm was brewing and luckily the shoot-offs went smoothly and quickly, so the last targets, paint and equipment could be locked away and the range tidied well before the hail hammered down. We arrived at the presentation venue, set up the trophies and sat down for the entrée. All was looking good, but as the main course was served, the power went out. Without a backup generator, tea lights and torches saved the day and what a romantic dinner it was. The Big Bore Open Aggregate went to Barry W with 139 and the Ladies Aggregate to Judy H with 134. The 10 Match Aggregate went to Barry W with an excellent score of 334, followed by Judy H on 317, Wayne C on 316, John H on 314 and Gary J on 312.
The presentations went very well, followed by the prize table. With everyone taking something extra home, there was nothing left but the goodbyes and the promise to see each other again at the next championships in Perth.