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John Brooker’s Reflections

Jan 29, 2024 | Individuals History

Current Club: Yorkshire Rifle Club What are your earliest shooting memories? (Target or other) As a 10 year old our…

Current Club: Yorkshire Rifle Club

What are your earliest shooting memories? (Target or other)

As a 10 year old our family visited some friends living at Goulburn. He took dad and I rabbit shooting, that was the start of my shooting career.

When did you first join a club and start shooting? Club/Year

In March 1956 Sydney County Council Rifle Club and in Yorkshire Rifle Club in October 1961.

How were you introduced to target rifle shooting? Family Member/Friend/ex-Military/Own Interest

I joined the SCC Rifle Club at Anzac Range Liverpool (I was a 1st year electrical apprentice at the Sydney County Council).

What Disciplines were you shooting initially? Target Rifle/Service Rifle/Other

I have always shot target rifle (Prone) in both small bore and big bore.

What Disciplines do you currently shoot? Target Rifle/F Class/Hunter Class/Match Rifle

In 2021 I had my left shoulder replaced and can no longer hold the weight of the rifle in my left arm, so I shoot TR off bipods, using front rings and rear central sights. At prize shoots I enter F Std B.

Do you shoot disciplines other than target rifle?   No


What was your first rifle?

My first rifle was a No.1 MkIII using Premier rear sights. As a 1st year electrical apprentice earning £7.00 per week I used the as issued “Light Barrel” for 9 months before fitting a Heavy Barrel and later progressed to No.4 in .303.

When I joined the SCCRC my parents wouldn’t let me have a rifle which made it difficult, but on a “family day” shoot my good friend Stan Golinski (also in SCCRC) convinced them that it was essential.

What rifle(s) are you currently using?     Barnards x 2

What other rifle models have you used?

The Omarks, Angels and now Barnards in 7.62 with Benchmark 31” 1:11 barrels. Two barrelled actions and one timber stock. (Bill Heald stock bedded by Ian (Griffo) Griffiths. The No1, 4 and Omarks tuned by Jack Pemberton. Using Central rear and Cooper tunnel, metal rings, 2mm surround and 0.5 Eagle Eye. Before my shoulder problem I used single point slings from Omarks till now. Glove and shooting glasses.

How do you rate each from your experience using them? What rifle was your favourite?

I found the Angels good but prefer my 2 Barnards.

What types of sights Front and Rear you have used over the years?

Blade front sights on .303 and Premier on No.1’s. Currently using Central rear sight and Cooper Front sight.


What Rifle Range did you begin shooting on?

Anzac Liverpool 1956-68. Originally 50 targets either side of road to Butts. Later the left hand side increased to 70.   Around 1967 R.H. Side converted to airstrip for “Vietnam”.

What rifle ranges would you rate as the most interesting that you have competed on?

Found Pontville (Tas) Williamstown (Vic) and Canberra quite challenging. Darwin very humid! Good thing about Canberra, it’s not far to travel home after a bad shoot! First Prize Shoot was Bathurst (1957) and later won Bathurst 5 times. It’s a shame many of the country ranges I shot on are no longer existing.

Who were the inspirations in your early shooting career or the people you most admired in shooting?

None that I can name.

What was the best team (Club or Representative) you were involved with and why?

The team feeling in the state team is fantastic because you have many practices as a team and mostly travel inter-state. I have shot in all states in State Teams.

What are your Personal Shooting Highlights? Club Championship, Competition Wins, Representative Teams?

Winning 3 No. 1 Queens Badges, Vic, PNG and NSW. And Winning C of C 4 times and C of District C – once.

Any particularly special Shooting feats by others that you have witnessed?

Stan Golinski’s Victorian Queens Win when the wind at 900 was so strong they had to use 6×6 targets to keep them up. You either shot a 3 or a miss.

Who were the best wind coaches that you shot under and why?

Noel Irving (State Team), Jim Bailey City\C), Bob Hutchins (Grade).

What has kept you involved in shooting, what aspects do you particularly enjoy?

Trying to get a good score each time I shoot and companionship after the shooting. My two sons played grade cricket and didn’t shoot but were keen followers of my shoots, so when he was a young lad I took great interest in Mitchel Bailey.

Have you been involved in the Administration of Shooting? DRA/State/National?

When we moved to Malabar I joined the MDRA Committee and was Vice President staying on until 2012 being made a Life Member. I was also Club Captain and Statistician of Yorkshire and a Life Member of the Club.

Any other shooting experiences you would like to talk about?

Shooting and winning PNG Queens and my club mate Sid Halstead (Andrew’s) dad was working in Bulolo and also shot in B Grade using my rifle and won. Helen (later my wife) and I then spent a week with them.

Our honeymoon was a driving trip to Perth for the Queens. No punctures and I won a badge.


What were the earliest competitions you entered and how did you fare?

1st shoot on a rifle range with SCCRC Anzac Liverpool 3 March 1956 27/50.

1st Prize Meeting – Bathurst 1957 93/105.

My first Prize meeting win was at Bellambi (Wollongong) 8/1964 103/105 Shoot Off 25/25.

Number of Prize Meetings won – 16 (Bathurst 5 times).

1st Queens Shoot – 1957 NSW C Grade 98/105.

1st Queens Badge No 32 1970 (Omark 7.62).

No of Queens Badges: 50 Includes  3 x No. 1 PNG 1972, VRA 1982, Sydney 1990.

Lead Up shoots 1 x No. 1 Syme 1981, 1 x No 2 W.A 1992, 1 x No 3 QRA 2011.

Won the SA Grand Champ 1973.

Have you competed Interstate or Internationally as an individual or part of a team?

NSW State Team 14 as shooter 3 as Manager.

City Teams 25 shoots in a row (1976-2003).

Veterans team – 3.

T McGuigan and I won Top Shooter and Coach Brisbane 2011.

Josephson 26 time.

As an individual I have shot in all Australian States, along with New Guinea and New Zealand.

What Country Prize Meetings have you entered? Any favourites? How did you fare?

Too many to list – enjoyed them all.

1st shoot on a rifle range with SCCRC Anzac Liverpool 3 March 1956 27/50.

1st Prize Meeting – Bathurst 9/1957 93/105.

Won Bellambi (Wollongong) 8/1964 103/105 Shoot Off 25/25.

Number of Prize Meetings won – 16 (Bathurst 5 times).


How do you think target shooting has changed in your time in the sport?

1956-68 Military Rifles .303 ammo No1 and No4.

1968 – New rifle range, new ammo 7.62 new rifles Omarks.

Now rifles are single shot target rifles, metal stocks, handloads, matts, gloves, eagle eyes, electronic targets, shooting glasses and caps + introduction of various F Series.

The old shooters would not recognise the sport.

Any other memorable anecdotes from your shooting career or about other shooters you would like to share?

In the 1976 NSW Queens – couldn’t shoot 600 on 1st Day Queens so they counted 1st 7 shots for yesterday and 10 for today’s 600 depends on where you shot an inner you could get 48 or 49.

In 2010, Tasmania – a storm came up at the last range, the CRO called the range off except TRA in their wisdom after short storm had passed over turned the CRO decision and finished the shoot. Not happy shooters having to return.

1950’s and 1960’s – 300 yd targets were 4’ x 4’ Grey and Ochre, tin hat aiming mark

500, 600, 700 6’ x 6’ Grey on Ochre with bulls eye

800, 900 and 1000, 8’x6’ white with bulls eye

Later all targets were white with a circle Bull aiming mark

Most Prize Shoots were 7 shots and if you shot 7 you carried on for the next 5. If 2 or more shot 35 + 5 they then shot off.

Ammo was cheap then.

District Association Prize meetings always included shooting a service match at 300.

All Queens shoots were 3, 5, 6, then 6, and 7, Teams Match, 6, 8, 9.

Army markers were used.

The Queens and Lead up were shot on Monday through to Friday.

B & C Grade were shot on the Saturday before the Queens.

C Grade shot 7 shots while B Grade carried on to 10.

For the Queens – All competitors stayed in club houses or tents.

Army type meals were available in mess hall.

On Saturday shoots clubs would use MDRCU (MDRA) markers obtained from employment officer or have their own (SCCRC used 2 army men from Army Village).

On Saturday’s for Club shoots at Anzac Liverpool we would all arrive by a special “Rifle Range” steam train where the platform was at the front gate of the range. The driver, Joe Kirkwood would then have a shoot with the Rail & Tram Club. When it was time to leave Joe would blow the whistle and everyone would have to return to the train for the trip back.

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