Heritage rifle enthusiasts battle it out for sharpshooter trophy
GUNSHOTS rang out through the birdsong at the base of the Rimutakas recently as the Wellington Service Rifle Association held one of its heritage firearms shooting contests.
The shoot, at Kaitoke, was open to all .303 calibre military rifles and 23 association members competed to find the top sharpshooter.
The competition tested various aspects of marksmanship, with participants lying prone, kneeling and standing, and aiming at several types of targets.
The overall winner was Nicole, scoring 129.8, hotly pursued by Craig S and John H with scores of 127.3 and 126.2 respectively.
To conclude the shoot, members battled for the Lord Roberts Trophy in a one-minute contest with unlimited rounds, which requires competitors to reload quickly while maintaining accuracy. Murray H took home this trophy.
The Service Rifle Association members prefer to give their first names only for reasons of security.
As firearms licence holders, they must make sure their firearms are stored securely and that they are not targeted for burglary.
Rex says rifle shooting is challenging and more fun than meets the eye.
“People think from shooting in video games that there’s not much skill involved and you just stand there like Rambo making loud noises,” Rex says. “But actually there’s technical skill involved.
“As with anything challenging, people feel a sense of reward when they improve.
“There’s a historical aspect to all the firearms and people like to geek out on old guns the same way some people do on old cars.
“The youngest gun on the range today is 50 to 60 years old.”
Firearms owned by association members span a long period of New Zealand and Commonwealth military history, with one of the oldest rifles dating to 1883.
The ages of the competitors also span a wide range.
Second-generation straight shooter Jakarna, 13, hit all five steel plates with her five rounds. Her whole family is into firearms.
“It’s a great family sport – it’s a lot of fun and it teaches concentration,” Jakarna says.
Although Jakarna did very well with her Jungle Carbine .303, she says she likes guns with a smaller recoil, and particularly likes the smaller calibre .22 rifles.
The association encourages anyone interested in heritage firearms to get in touch.
New members will be guided through the steps necessary to acquiring a firearms licence.