For the uninitiated a few target rifle shooting terms explained; Rifle, a precision tool able to shoot into a 1/2 MoA at 100 yards.
Rifle shooter, an eagle eyed nimrod able to see 1/2 MoA at 100 yards.
Spotting scope, similar to a ground based Hubble, able to see ants at 1,000 yards Target, the aiming mark for the rifle shooter Centre bull, the centre
of the target, maximum score Bull, almost a centre bull but slightly less value Inner or Four, not as good as a bull.
Three, a “magpie” to be avoided Outer or Two, worse than a three One, so bad that you can’t believe you’ve done it “Maggie’s draws”, a MISS!
Given the requirements of a target rifle and the small size of the targets, never mind the bulls eye, why would any sane person further handicap
themselves by trying to shoot targets with a military issue bolt action 303″ rifle even if fitted with target sights?
Why would 13 such fools assemble at Trentham’s Seddon rifle range, home of the most fickle winds known to targets shooters and attempt such folly?
Simply, we’re nuts, more importantly it was the 5th annual Dick Travis VC commemorative 303 rifle match.
Little known, even in NZ, Sgt Richard “Dick” Travis VC was NZ’s most decorated NCO of the 1st WW.
Duncan started this exercise in folly, and it has developed a small, but mad, band of followers over the years. As each year goes by we promise,
never again, and next year I’ll have sorted out, my rifle, my ammo, my sling, my sights…….
A Lee Enfield in any form is the antithesis of a target rifle, the 303 calibre is less than optimum, but we persist in trying to prove the experts
wrong. The rifles have evolved, the number of P14 rifles in use indicates that if we must have a 303 then at least we’ll get the closest to a target
rifle we can. The die-hards persist with their beloved No4 rifles and one even still holds dear to his SMLE, brave choice Ernie.
Having had a sermon on the mound from Duncan, as required by RSO we settled into squads for the first range, 300 yards.
Duncan has, in deference to our age, or possibly our vanity, allowed us to shoot on the larger “mid-range” target at this range. The bulls eye is 10″
across, but even so many of us found it tricky.
Enter Mike, son of Din and Viv, a target shooter of no mean ability, he’s represented us at the commonwealth games. Using one of Din’s own P14 rifles
Mike set a cracking pace with a double possible at 300 yards! Letting him know he wasn’t the only shooter of note Nicole put in a spanking 99.12 and
Richard a 98.9. This was the end of day one and we retired to the club house where Karori RC had arranged a spit roast dinner. The cold drinks were also
Sunday, day two, (for those who can count) and no drop outs! Again into the fray strode (drove) the mad 13. This was were the men and ladies sorted out
the boys! 500 yards, shot on the rifle clubs 800-1,000 yard target.. A bullseye of 16″ across, it’s huge! Except from through the sights of a 303 rifle, with a
long pull, and 7lbs of trigger pressure. Here we did find out about Trentham, it was calm! We waited with hope in our hearts, for our turn to
shoot, it drained, slowly away as the breeze gently rose with the day.
Step forward a champion, to tame the beast. Stuart new to shooting, but determined and sharp of glasses, he bested the beast. A double possible at
500 yards! Giving him little chance to rest, snapping at his heels, came the pack! Richard on 99.10, Shane on 99.8 and Nicole on 98.6.
We broke for lunch. Many of us considered our future as rifle shooters. Many considered finding a job that needed doing, at home. But we are mad, so we
stayed and took our medicine like the fools we are. 600 yards, as far as we’re allowed to go with a 303 calibre rifle at Trentham range. It’s only 100 yards further than where we were before lunch,
but some how it’s another place!
Many came to grief here! Many shed tears, many offered their first born, to the shooting gods! Anything to be able to read the wind! The light, fickle,
wavering, changeable, bloody wind! Top quality shooters lost their way, tyros (beginners in shooter speak) wondered how anyone ever hit the target,
much less the bull? We didn’t miss!!! We came close, but we didn’t miss! Our wildest shots found the target, that wonderfully huge target.
Only the best did well here, it’s the place for expert readers of the wind, 5 years isn’t enough! Ten years is barely enough! Din studied the wind at
Trentham for 40 years, he was a master of it, we are not worthy! We needed a champion to lead us, step forward Richard, he worried us for a
time but he found his way again and he lead us at 600 yards. Back to back 49s with his No4 was enough. John B with 46-48 from his P14 showed what
experience can achieve, to make second at this range. Ernie and his trusty SMLE took third spot with 45-47.
When the day was done and the thirsts had been broken we gathered with some of Sgt Travis’s family, who have come each year to support us, to hear our
Top shot and second time winner was Richard L with his No4. In second place Nicole M also shooting a No4. Third by only 3 centres was John B with his
P14. We spent time talking with Sgt Travis’s family then made our excuses and headed home. The equipment race starts tomorrow! Next year, or the year
after, if Duncan will consider an F class? Some day Trentham some day!