The Armidale Rifle Club hosted its first OPM since 1994 on the weekend of 6th/7th November making it one of the first prize meets back on the calendar post covid restrictions. This allowed shooters to travel from the metropolitan areas as well as from neighbouring clubs. Shooters represented Port Macquarie, Wingham, Inverell, Cessnock, Dorrigo, Roseville, Grafton and Armidale Rifle Clubs.
For many shooters it was the first time to the Wallamumbi rifle range, which at 1034m above sea level is one of the highest altitude ranges in the country. With very pretty scenery and being lovely and green, it set the scene for some sensational shooting. The range is renowned for its windy conditions, especially in August and September, but the weekend saw some very benign wind conditions, but sneaky mirage played its part, making sure no shooter went through the event clean.
Just over thirty shooters registered for the four-stage shoot, with the first stage being at 500 yards at night. After a BBQ dinner and a wild thunderstorm, which threatened to derail the night shoot, the weather gods looked down on us and gave us perfect conditions.
The night stage was foreign to many shooters, who had never competed before under lights, but there were many advocates after, as the conditions were just about ideal, with two F Open shooters nailing the elusive 60.10 probable. Performances of note for the night stage were Tim Booth and Jock Foster (both Armidale Rifle Club) shooting 60.10’s when almost the entire F Open field shot a possible, and Andrew Cameron (Armidale) and Dmitri Kazakoz (Roseville) shooting 50.8 and 50.6 respectively in Target Rifle. Byron LaFontaine (Inverell) also smoked it in F Standard A, shooting a first stage 60.7.
The firepit and lure of a few refreshments finished Day 1, with the bacon and egg roll and expresso coffee saving many at the start of Day 2.
Day 2 was three stages, those being 500 yards, followed by 2 x 600 yards stages, the last being a 15- shot stage.
The first stage 500 yards, saw possibles to Peter Tollis (50.9), Mike Chad (50.5) and Dmitri Kazakov (50.5) in Target Rifle A, Ean Heagney (60.8), Byron LaFontaine (60.4) in F Standard A, Ashtyn Franke (60.6) in F Standard B, as well as 8 possibles in F Open, those being Mick Difford (60.9), Greg Carson (60.9), Tim Booth (60.8), Sean Campbell (60.8), Jock Foster (60.8), John Peters (60.8), David Piddington (60.6) and Gary Cluley (60.3). Talk about a hot field! Of particular note was Roseville shooter, Mark Buchanan shooting a 45.9 in Target Rifle A Grade, making the mistake of shooting the wrong target, which of course was a super centre, leaving him to ponder the missed probable. We shared your pain Mark!
Stage 2, 600 yards saw mirage come into play and the field start to thin a bit with fewer possibles shot. The highlights in Target Rifle A, was Peter Tollis (50.9), and the boys in Ferrari class (F Open) continuing to bash the super centre. Tim Booth (60.7), David Piddington (60.6), Sean Campbell (60.5), John Peters (60.5), Jock Foster (60.4) and John Weigel (60.3) all went clean.
The final fifteen shot stage sorted the field out with only one possible being shot, that being Greg Carson (90.7) in F Open as conditions deteriorated. The highlight of the weekend was the tied finish in F Open, with both Sean Campbell and Jock Foster finishing on 269.30. A shoot off was held with 2 sighters (convertible) and 5 counters deciding the eventual winner. Whilst neither shooter missed, Sean Campbell was crowned the winner after shooting more super centres. Congratulations Sean.
This was the start of the raid by the Inverell RSM Rifle Club, with Byron LaFontaine taking out F Standard A grade (266.21) and Peter Tollis (223.26) winning Target Rifle A grade, completing the route. Congratulations to the Inverell RSM Rifle Club for their success.
Ashtyn Franke (Armidale Rifle Club) won F Standard B Grade (259.15), with Peter Mitchell (Port Macquarie) taking out Target Rifle B Grade (209.15) and Paul Russell (Shore Rifle Club) taking Target Rifle C Grade (200.12) completing the winner’s circle. All scores can be checked out on the Hexta website.
With the festivities completed, the rain that threatened all weekend finally opened up, bucketing for the afternoon and all night.
A massive thank you to all participants, especially those who travelled for making the event a success. A big thank you to all our sponsors who donated prizes and made the event one to remember. The club can’t wait to host again in 2022.