The SSAA National Junior Challenge is a yearly event organised to give Australian junior shooters from 12 to 18 years of age an opportunity to get together, learn and hone their shooting skills and participate in friendly competition. The core disciplines for this event are 3-Positional Rimfire, Rifle Metallic Silhouette Rimfire and Field Rifle Rimfire shooting.
In early July, SSAA Victoria was pleased to host the 2014 National Junior Challenge at the Springvale and Eagle Park ranges. The event was well attended by 47 shooters from the ACT, New South Wales, Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria.
On Friday, July 11, the Springvale Range hosted the 3-Positional Rimfire match, followed by an opportunity to participate in 10m Precision Air Rifle. Air Rifle is not part of the National Junior Challenge and therefore scores are not included in the 3-Gun Aggregate, but it is an additional event to give junior shooters an opportunity to experience another discipline.
In the 10m Precision Air Rifle, a new Junior Australian Record was set by Alex Payne from South Australia, with his aggregate of 398.21 beating the previous record (also held by Alex) of 396.23. The Junior Australian Record for High Card of 100.7 is also held by Alex and he matched this again in this event.
In the 3-Positional Rimfire, there were some good scores achieved, with multiple shooters attaining their personal best scores. A total of 10 awards were claimed ranging from Junior to Gold.
On Saturday, the Eagle Park Range at Little River hosted the Rifle Metallic Silhouette Rimfire match. Some would describe the conditions at Eagle Park as a little brisk, but that did not seem to deter the juniors, and 14 awards were claimed ranging from Junior to Silver.
After the day’s shooting was over, many competitors and their families went back to the Springvale clubrooms for a roast meal and trivia night. It was a fun evening, with about 100 people filling the clubrooms.
The final day saw the Field Rifle Rimfire match held at Springvale. As with the previous two days, the juniors were all keen to produce their best scores. A new Junior Australian Record was set for Offhand by Mitchell Stevens from Tasmania with a score of 98.1, and a total of 17 awards were claimed ranging from Junior to Silver. During the day, the SSAA Victoria Military Rifle & Pistol Club put on a static display of historical firearms, which was of great interest to the participants, parents and visitors.
At the end of the Challenge, James Freeman from Tasmania came away as the Under 15 3-Gun Champion, and Emerson Shiel from Victoria was the Under 18 3-Gun Champion.
Many current and former participants in the SSAA National Junior Challenge say that it is a great event that provides an opportunity to share time with other people of similar age and interests, to refine your techniques and skills, and to improve on your best scores, and I definitely believe this is true.
The 2014 event would not have been the success that it was without the hard work and dedication of the volunteers from the Youth Training Schemes at Eagle Park and Springvale, the support and guidance from SSAA National Secretary Kaye McIntyre, the willingness by people from other branches to contribute and pitch in, and most importantly, the parents of the participants who go to so much expense and effort to enable their children to attend the Challenge. Special thanks must also go to our sponsors, SSAA National, SSAA Victoria and Alcock & Pierce.
In 2015, the SSAA National Junior Challenge will be held at the SSAA Glenorchy Range in Hobart, Tasmania, from July 3 to 5. See you there!
by Greg Woolnough