The 2016 Scoped 3-Positional & Field Rifle National Championships got underway on Thursday, March 24 at the SSAA Mackay Branch in Queensland. The first day of competition saw the NRA 3 Position Any Sight half match up and running smoothly. As part of the SSAA international team selection requirements, competitors had to shoot in this match plus both the Rimfire and Centrefire Scoped 3-Positional categories at these championships to be considered for the squad who will head to the United States in July 2017 to compete in the NRA Nationals.
Straight off the bat, Western Australian Matthew Boots fired a near perfect 200.18 prone and ended the day with 589.32 and a large 41-point lead. Fellow WA representative Keigan Williams, an Under-15 junior, also showed his intent by coming in second with a 548.09 and Graham Bunter, also from WA, was third, just one point behind with 547.10. Greg Riemer, of Queensland, ended up fourth with 525.07 to round out the leaders for selection.
The Field Rifle Centrefire event went ahead on Good Friday and started with a nice calm day, but the wind soon found everybody and caused a bit of havoc. The scorers and canteen staff did a fantastic job and looked after each other as well as the shooters. Lunch consisted of fish and salad, after which everybody went their own way. The main event starter saw Boots, Veselko Talajic, of WA, and Riemer lying first, second and third respectively. The wind and mirage at 200m were an annoyance to most people except Robert Luther (Qld), who won the position and a half-point towards the Field Rifle Hall of Fame with a 97.01.
An old friend and current National and Australian record-holder of the Field Rifle Centrefire event, Lee Bettridge, headed over to have a look at the event. Lee has held a number of records over the years and competed in numerous international events. The National Championships Shield is named after Lee as is the Western Australian State Championship Shield. Lee was born in Queensland, shifted to Western Australia for 30-odd years and then crossed back to Queensland. He currently resides just outside of Mackay.
Easter Saturday brought about the Field Rifle Rimfire competition and also the results of the Field Rifle 2-Gun. The wind was not strong but reading the swirl involved was a bit of a pain. Rapid Fire went to Adrian Williams (WA) with 95.02, Offhand to Boots with 99.03, Standing Post Rest to Talajic with 98.01, and Sitting Post Rest to Riemer with a 98.04. Boots, Riemer and Talajic came in first, second and third spots, while Keigan Williams grabbed fourth and claimed the Junior Under-15 category. Rohan Tonkin (Qld) triumphed in the Under-18 group. Tatiana George (Qld) sealed second position in the Under-18s and Lachlan Jensen (Qld) was runner-up in the Under-15s. The Field Rifle Championship 2-Gun was won by Boots with 774.13. Second was Riemer with 755.10, ahead of Talajic with 754.04.
There were discussions on potential rule changes and also some grey areas within the current rules at the shooters meeting followed by a barbecue, which was well attended. The odd cane toad was spotted with some of the creatures subsequently dying of heart attacks upon being discovered.
Sunday was the 3-Positional Rimfire match and was a blowout in favour of Boots with the reigning champion winning all three positions and finishing with a score of 570.13. Bunter earned second place with 547.10, while Riemer was third on 538.04. Keigan Williams took out the Under-15 and C grade category with 542.07, and was the only shooter who had a score that would put him up a grade. Tonkin and George were the winner and runner-up in the Under-18 category with 407.00 and 132.00 respectively.
Crunch time on Monday came with the 3-Positional Centrefire match and also the final event for the 3-Positional 2-Gun, 4-Gun and National Selection. Much the same as the previous 3-Positional match, it was a clear-cut outcome in favour of Boots with an equal National and Australian record in the Prone position thanks to 200.11 to start with. The last time the Prone records were beaten/equalled was in Queensland in 2000 on the Fraser Coast, set by Les Imgrund Jnr. Boots’ aggregate was 578.18. Behind him was Riemer with 541.03 and third went to Bunter with a 523.03. Keigan Williams took out the Under-15 and C grade again with 515.02, and Tonkin collared the Under-18s with a tally of 409.03.
The 3-Positional Championship 2-Gun was won by Boots, who notched 1148.31, in front of Riemer with 1079.07 and Bunter on 1070.13. The Under-15 crown was handed to Keigan Williams on 1057.09, and Under-18 victor was Tonkin on 816.03.
The National Championship Top 10 saw Boots win his sixth straight title with 1922.44, 88 points clear, and a 10-shot average of 96.12/100. Runner-up was Riemer with 1834.17 and a 91.71 average. Third was Bunter with 1802.23 and 90.11 average. Fourth place-getter was Talajic on 1792.09, fifth Keigan Williams on 1777.18, sixth Luis Henriques (WA) 1766.07, seventh Alex Brace (ACT) 1755.07, eighth Rouald Swartz (WA) 1711.18, ninth Adrian Williams 1693.10, and 10th Anthony Puddicombe (Qld) 1676.10.
The 2017 Australian Team qualifiers (in order) are Matthew Boots (WA) 1737.63/1800.180, Graham Bunter (WA) 1617.23, Keigan Williams (WA) 1605.18, Greg Riemer (Qld) 1604.14. The two reserves are Luis Henriques (WA) and Adrian Williams (WA). Australian teams are not confirmed until ratified by the SSAA National Board. Qualifiers are those shooters who have satisfied the initial selection requirements.