Competitors from all over Australia slowly arrived at the Perth Handgun Metallic Silhouette Club from October 1 to 7, 2016, for the SSAA/IHMSA National Championships. Some who drove became caught up on the western edge of the mammoth storm that hit South Australia, which upped the fuel consumption considerably due to the gale-force headwinds across the Nullarbor. One couple had an extended holiday and came around the top of Australia. Everyone reached the venue safely and even had a chance to fire a few shots on the practice day before the Small Bore and Field Pistol section of the Championships started.
Small Bore and Field Pistol
Gale-force winds were predicted and the weather bureau had it right for a change because they swept through in the early hours of Saturday morning. The odd rain skiff made it very unpleasant. Amid lots of moans and groans, the Nationals began promptly at 8am. Pig, turkey and ram targets were clamped all day to stop them being blown over. The horrendous winds and rain squalls continued and the rain blew right through, under the roof over the firing line, making it difficult to shoot as well as being bitterly cold. Top scores for the day were John H 38 in Production, Barry W and Richard C 39 in Unlimited Any Sights, Wayne C 32 in Field Pistol Production and Joseph B 33 in Field Pistol Production Any Sights.
On Sunday, the wind had abated slightly, but was still quite strong. The early-morning showers cleared, but the clouds kept rolling through on a regular basis, sometimes making sighting difficult. Some strong wind gusts continued to play havoc with the .22 ammunition on its way to 100m. Top scores for the day were Judy H 40 in Unlimited, the first of the competition, Russell M 38 in Revolver, and junior shooter Helen C 35 in Revolver, which was a personal best as well as a triple grade break ‑ well done, Helen! Barry W scored 32 in Field Pistol Production and Dominic P 32 in Field Pistol Production Any Sights.
Monday morning started overcast and calm. By the time the command ‘Shooters to the Line’ was given, a slight breeze began to blow. This increased all day and at times was very gusty. On many occasions, the shooter would make a windage adjustment to allow for the gusts, only to have it drop off and then of course they missed the target. You can cope if the wind is constant, but it is extremely difficult when it is changeable. For the first time during the competition, the targets were unclamped. Some still blew over but no alibi shots were needed. Top scores for the day were Barry W 30 in Field Pistol Production, Noel W 39 in Unlimited Any Sights and Richard C 24 in Standing.
The last competition shot was fired at 1.30pm and the range was set up for shoot-offs. Field Pistol Production was the opener with Noel W, Cheyne F and Stuart K vying for first, second and third in AA grade. Noel went on to win followed by Cheyne, then Stuart. Next up were Barry W and Wayne C in Field Pistol Production shooting off for National Champion. Barry was the victor. Unlimited Any Sights finished things off between Noel W, Barry W and Richard C. The small targets at 100m sorted it out on the first run with Richard hitting 4/5, Barry 3/5 and Noel 2/5.
With the first part of the Nationals completed, we all wound down for a while and awaited the arrival of the pizza van before the presentation ceremony. The best thing about the competition was that we had three juniors competing ‑ Helen C, Ian C and Liam McK all from WA. Keep it up!
Big Bore began on Wednesday under clear skies with only the odd fluff ball floating through. The wind, while still cool, had changed direction and was blowing down and across the range, which meant watery eyes for those trying to shoot. The first perfect score of 40 was shot by Bevan D in Unlimited, followed later by Barry W with a 40 in Production. Cheyne F had an excellent 39 in Revolver, and husband and wife team of John and Judy H both scored 36 in Unlimited Half Scale.
Thursday was overcast and dull. The wind arrived at start time blowing this way and that, then back in the other direction. Stuart K began the day with a tremendous 40 in Unlimited Any Sights Half Scale, which was no mean feat in the conditions. Wayne C followed with a 40 in Unlimited and Barry W with an excellent 32 in Standing. With the wind blowing predominantly downrange, a new problem arose ‑ a number of competitors had rams stand after being hit as the wind from behind was holding them up. Just one of the joys of shooting Silhouette!
Friday presented fog for a change, but this cleared early and the wind blew yet again from a completely different direction. Despite this, scores of 40s came thick and fast on the last day of competition. Bevan D tallied 40, Gary J 40 and Barry W 40 all in Unlimited Any Sights, while Cheyne F scored 40 in Unlimited and Richard C 28 in Standing.
Once again, the scoring part of the Nationals was completed by 1.30pm and while the final scores were being entered, the shoot-off targets were set up at 200m. First up were Cheyne F and Gary J for second and third in Production INT Grade. After two runs, Cheyne was the victor. Unlimited was next between Bevan D, Cheyne F and Wayne C. Cheyne won after the first round and after the second round Wayne came second and Bevan third.
Unlimited Half Scale came next with John and Judy shooting the same pistol ‑ John scored 3 to Judy’s 2. Cheyne F and Barry W shot off for third place, with Cheyne hitting more of the small shoot-off targets. Unlimited Any Sights was last on the agenda, with Joseph B winning in the first round and Gary J taking second place. Bevan was third on the second run through. Barry W finished fourth.
With all shooting done and dusted for another year, the only thing left was the Big Bore presentation dinner. There were a couple of hours to spare before that started, so this was an opportunity to pack and tidy up ready for the journey home, which for some was more than 4000km away.
Thank you to all club members for their hard work in making sure the range was at its best and to all those who helped in the running of the competition, before and during. We look forward to seeing everyone again next year.