This year’s SSAA Western Australian Field Rifle & 3-Positional State Championships were hosted by SSAA Kent Districts in Nyabing. This small town, located 327km south-east of Perth, has a population of 120. The town’s name is said to be derived from the Aboriginal term for a variety of everlasting flower found in the district.
Day one of competition kicked off with the Centrefire Field Rifle event. Conditions were warm, with a slight crosswind that was of no great concern until some minor adjustments were needed for the 200m post sit and the flies were friendly. Katanning local Sammy Tang joined the line-up only to drop his bolt at the start, causing irreparable damage and unfortunately was forced to miss the day’s competition.
Graham Bunter grabbed the Rapid Fire position with 96.02, but Matthew Boots took the last three to gain a comfortable 13-point lead at the end of the competition. Top three for the Centrefire Field Rifle were Boots with 389.07, Veselko Talajic on 376.03 and Bunter just behind on 375.04.
Day two saw an influx of rimfire shooters to the campgrounds and some much-needed business for the local hotel. Seven clubs were represented and the competition for places was fierce. After a sensational breakfast provided by Regine and Luis from the Perth Field Rifle Club, the weigh-in was conducted and all competitors headed to the 50m range to be greeted by bitterly cold gusty winds that were sweeping up from the valley and swirling diagonally downrange. The wind was constantly changing, whirling and gusting, which made for some challenging judgment calls when trying to compensate for the first wind flags blowing left, the second flags right and the third row seeming to go in different directions at the same time. A few competitors were so rugged up they were difficult to recognise in the photos and young TJ Bucktin admitted to putting on every jumper she had while shivering in the corner of the shooting shed.
The position results were fairly one-sided with the masterly Boots taking out the first three positions, extending his already comfortable lead, until the sitting post, which was closely contested and the top four shooters for this position were separated by three x-rings. The top shooters were David Gould on 98.01, Eddy Lok and Chris Martindale on 98.02. Richard Murray took the Hall of Fame half-point on 98.03. Top three for the Rimfire Field Rifle were Boots on 391.11, Talajic on 378.04 and Luis Henriques on 376.02.
The Field Rifle 2-Gun was pretty close in the midfield and just started to expand towards the top with Bunter coming third with 749.11, Talajic just in front with 754.07 and Boots clinching first spot with 780.18, breaking Reg Johnson’s 21-year-old State Record by five x-rings.
At lunch, the competition was concluded and after a short break, the Rimfire 3-Positional event began. There was no let-up in the conditions with all competitors chilled through and feeling like a half-thawed pack of barbecue sausages. The event ran late into the afternoon and early evening with three details to run through the course of fire. This resulted in the final detail completing their Sit/Kneel by feel and instinct as the light had faded to a level not seen in a marksmanship competition since Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham stumbled out of Ye Olde Inn for round two.
The Prone position was hard fought, but Chris Wann, from Nickol Bay, took out the high score with a 196.02. Offhand was won with 186.04 by Boots and so was the Sit/Kneel with 197.06. The Rimfire 3-Positional was headed by Boots on 575.13, taking an even bigger lead towards the 4-Gun and also a healthy lead toward the 3-Positional 2-Gun. Wann came second with 556.06, gaining a few much-needed points, and Dan Summers was third with 543.14.
The final day of competition started a little later, allowing those that enjoyed the shooters’ dinner festivities to rise at their own pace. The conditions were much improved with only light winds, sunshine and some patchy cloud and a return to a reasonably temperate day. It was all hands on deck to relocate the backing boards and wind flags to the Centrefire range. Practice began for the 3-Positional Centrefire match and Katanning’s Tang returned for the event after rectifying the issue with his bolt from day one.
A clean sweep of positions from Boots saw him increase his lead to more than 100 points in the overall 4-Gun and seal his ninth consecutive state title: Prone 199.05, Offhand 194.02 and Sit/Kneel 198.05. Top three for Centrefire 3-Positional were Boots with 591.12, Veselko Talajic gained back lost points from the 3-Positional Rimfire with a 555.02, while his daughter, Adriana Talajic was third with 545.07. The 3-Positional 2-Gun saw Boots on top with 1166.25, Veselko Talajic second with 1089.11 and again, Adriana Talajic third on 1086.14.
The 4-Gun results were hotly contested right up until the top two with Boots being named 2015 State Champion on 1946.43. Veselko Talajic was second with 1843.18 and Bunter made a return to the standings in third spot, tallying 1809.21.
The supplementary events of the NRA 3x40 Any Sight and the 10m Air Rifle Precision & Scoped 3-Positional were hosted by Port Bouvard Pistol & Small Bore Rifle Club on December 5 and 6 to complete the entire course of fire within the Field Rifle & Scoped 3-Positional discipline. With the 10-bay indoor air rifle range and 10-bay 50m range, this makes the perfect location to host the events.
Day one saw the two Air Rifle events contested, firstly the 10m Air Rifle Precision within the confines of the indoor air range. With no wind to worry about, it all came down to shooters’ ability. Boots was a late entry into the competition, initially not shooting the Air Rifle events and just overseeing the action. A high card of 99.06 just edging out Gavin Geldenhuys gave Boots the half-point towards the state Hall of Fame, but it was Geldenhuys who had the last laugh, winning the competition by two points with 388.13 and gaining the full point to the Hall of Fame. Top three were Geldenhuys on 388.13, Boots on 386.14 and Adrian Williams on 369.10.
The Scoped 3-Positional Air Rifle was conducted after a short lunch break and everyone headed over to the outdoor range. The wind was there and if you didn’t read it correctly that would cost you dearly. Geldenhuys was the undisputed star of this event with a clean sweep, winning every position. The absence of Boots meant that the Air Rifle 2-Gun and also the 7-Gun award were all ripe for the taking. The top three were Geldenhuys on 583.31, Bunter on 567.15 and Williams on 543.14. The 2-Gun saw Geldenhuys grab the three points with 971.44, Bunter collected two points with 932.25 and Williams earned one point with 912.24.
Day two was the NRA 3x40 Any Sight match on the outdoor range. The wind was not as strong but was more gusty. If shooters were not careful, it would cost them a point or so here and there. In this competition, one point is a lot. It was a clean sweep by Boots with a new State and Australian Record in the Standing with a 394.19 and an impressive 1185.65 Aggregate. Following him was Geldenhuys on 1109.22 and Bunter on 1089.22.
The 7-Gun saw some new faces this year with Bunter taking out top spot on 3830.68. Williams was second with 3796.67 and John Totton third with 3684.45.