This past Saturday 37 shooters showed their dedication to the sport by turning out to compete in the Murray Bridge Rifle Club's annual Open Prize Meeting in what were hot and difficult conditions.
Shot across three ranges, it started just after 8.30am at 700 metres in quite pleasant conditions with only a hint of breeze from the left.
Several shooters were quick to capitalize on this and early advantages were gained with many particularly good scores being recorded, including 15 possibles, that meant nearly half the entrants walked off the mound with perfect scores.
Winning the range by centres across the classes and grades were CTVs' Danny Blackmore (FTR) with 60.7, Murray Bridge's Adrian Conlon (FO) with a 60.8, Malcolm Hill from Pt Pirie (FSA) with a 60.4, Bordertown's Jeff Makin (FSB) scoring a 60.6, and in Target Rifle Bill Naismith of Yanyarrie/Orroroo (TRA) with a 50.9, Murray Bridge's Gordon Harrison (TRB) with a 50.5, and Don Flynn from Woomera (TRC) with a 45.2.
As the morning progressed the temperature steadily rose and the wind's strength and fickleness also increased, meaning that by the time 800 metres was shot the conditions had begun to play tricks and even wreak havoc as most shooters suffered a significant drop in scores.
Target Rifle shooters seemed to cope a little better with their larger bullseye than the more precise F-Classes with Greg Traeger (Murray Bridge) winning A-Grade with a 49.3, the same score as his daughter Jasamine Irvine (also Murray Bridge) who won B-Grade, while C-Grade was claimed by Don Flynn again, this time with a 49.2. In the F-Classes, F-Standard A was won by Tristan Howell of Phoenix with a 57.5, while Jeff Makin took the honours again in F-Standard B with a 54.1. F-Open was claimed by another Murray Bridge shooter, John Cranwell with an impressive 59.3, while CTV's Chris McDermott took the FTR honours with a 52.2.
After lunch, many shooters struggled from the unforgiving range of 1000 yards in heat, which Don Flynn said had "shades of Woomera about it," and wind that was now switching to the right and becoming notoriously difficult to read as its strength changed significantly with little evidence in the flags.
The conditions meant that some very good shooters walked off the mound with some very ordinary scores.
A few were still able to shine however, including Mark Tyler from Phoenix, who shot a 58.2 to claim the range in F-Open.
Other range winners were Bryan "Snaps" Galpin (CTV) in FTR with a 53.2, Malcolm Hill in FSA with a 54.4, Darryl Pink from Mt Barker in FSB with a 47.1.
Rob Paech from Murray Bridge with a solid 47.2 took out the range in TRA, while Graham Hancock from Mt Barker wasn't far behind with a 46.3 to win TRB, and Don Flynn completed his clean sweep with a 39.2 to win TRC.
Following the three ranges, the top three shooters in the three F-Class disciplines competed "Bisley Style" in the Kuchel Challenge, named in honour of the late Colin Kuchel, Club and SARA life-member and Australian national representative.
Each set of three shooters shot in turns at a single target for 5 counting shots. Emerging victorious at the end of a long and testing day were Adrian Conlon in F-Open ahead of Mark Tyler and John Cranwell, Bryan Galpin in FTR ahead of Alison Hansen (Mt Barker) and Nicole Edwards (Murray Bridge), and Tristan Howell in F-Standard ahead of Anaki Tovale (Phoenix) and Malcolm Hill.
Needless to say, all shooters were grateful for a cold drink and a chance to relax back in the clubrooms after the tough day as the scores were collated and the raffle drawn.
Overall winners for the day were Rob Paech in TRA with an aggregate score of 144.12, who made a point of thanking everyone for coming out to support the shoot in unusually hot conditions.
This sentiment was echoed by Gordon Harrison who won the day in TRB with 143.14, only one point behind and two centres ahead of Rob!
There were no surprises in TRC with Don Flynn taking out the aggregate after top scoring at all three ranges to finish with 133.6.
In FSA, despite missing out at the Kuchel Challenge, Malcolm Hill claimed the overall win with a score 169.11 and thanked the Club for taking a chance in holding the competition with the ever-present risk of a COVID shutdown.
In FSB, Jeff Makin's consistency meant he took out the aggregate prize with a 159.8. F-Open had an extremely close and high scoring finish but Mark Tyler claimed the win by a single point from Adrian Conlon despite Adrian having the higher centre count, 176.11 to 175.13.
Rounding out the grades, again with a narrow one-point win ahead of second, Bryan Galpin, and third, Nicole Edwards, both scoring 159.8, was Alison Hansen from Mt Barker, with a solid 160.6, who is hoping to take her form to the Ladies' State Team Competition in Bendigo in just over a week's time.
Club Captain, Greg Traeger, finished the day by thanking everyone for their support of the Prize Shoot and especially those who helped to make it possible.
This included club members David McDonald, who forwent competing to act as Range Officer for the day, Nicole Edwards, who organized entries, prizes and the computer scoring systems, Daniel and Jazz Irvine who were co-opted to act as technical support to the Range Officer for the Club's first prize shoot entirely on electronic targets.
Thanks also went to Janelle Traeger and Bronwyn Heard who made sure the kitchen operated smoothly and everyone was well fed, and Terry Brown and Bryan Robertson who operated the mobile morning tea ute out on the range. A special thanks went to Don Flynn for setting up and entering scores into the official database over the day.
A particular thankyou also went to the day's sponsors, Rob Paech and Berenberg Farms, Andrew Head, David Hindmarsh, David McDonald, Peter Casley, John Cranwell, Mark Nesti, Gordon Harrison and Adrian Conlon for donating the prizes that help make the day possible.
Next week the Club returns to its championship schedule with another chance at 1000 yards. Many are hoping for better conditions this time around.
Target Rifle - TRA: R Paech 50.8, 47.2, 47.2, 144.12, G Traeger 50.8, 49.3, 42.0, 141.11, B Naismith 50.9, 45.0, 45.2, 140.11, T Trigg 49.3, 47.3, (ret) TRB: G Harrison 50.5, 48.5, 45.4, 143.14, R Bradshaw 48.4, 45.2, 44.2, 137.8, F Guyatt 49.5, 46.1, 41.1, 136.7, A Heard 49.7, 42.5, 43.2, 134.14, G Hancock 49.4, 39.1, 46.3, 134.8, J Irvine 49.4, 49.3, 34.0, 132.7, D Irvine 46.2, 40.0, 43.1, 129.3, TRC: D Flynn 45.2, 49.2, 39.2, 133.6, D Matthews 44.0, 41.2, 38.0, 123.2, D Lindner 42.3, 42.3, 37.4, 121.10.
F-Class - FSA: M Hill 60.4, 55.3, 54.4, 169.11, A Tovale 60.4, 52.3, 53.0, 165.7, T Howell 59.5, 57.5, 48.1, 164.11, B Gillis 59.6, 55.2, 43.1, 157.9, F Marshall 49.2, 56.0, 47.1, 152.3, FSB: J Makin 60.6, 54.1, 45.1, 159.8, E Concannon 56.3, 52.1, 45.2, 153.6, R Steel 56.1, 51.2, 46.0, 153.3, S Makin 56.1, 47.1, 33.0, 136.2, D Pink 57.0, 29.0, 47.1, 133.1, L Harris 43.2, 47.0, 33.0, 123.2, FO: M Tyler 60.6, 58.3, 58.2, 176.11, A Conlon 60.8, 58.2, 57.3, 175.13, J Cranwell 60.7, 59.3, 52.1, 171.11, I Elston 60.5, 55.3, 51.0, 166.8, K Conlon 59.6, 57.2, 49.0, 165.8, A Goldsmith 59.5, 53.2, 50.1, 162.8, M Nesti 60.7, 50.1, 44.1, 154.9, FTR: A Hansen 60.4, 50.1, 50.1, 160.6, B Galpin 60.6, 46.0, 53.2, 159.8, N Edwards 59.6, 50.1, 50.1, 159.8, C McDermott 56.3, 52.2, 47.0, 155.5, D Blackmore 60.7, 47.1, 44.0, 151.8.