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Phill Mastin (1944 – 2022)

Aug 2, 2022 | Obituaries

by Bruce Scott – NRAA President

(6 August 1944 – 27 June 2022)

This obituary has been compiled from messages and information provided when friends learned Phill Mastin had sadly passed away after a short stay in the Cairns Hospital.

Adapted from the Australian Rifle Team Booklet UK 2003 (mostly Phill’s own words):

Phill served his apprenticeship as a Fitter and Turner and went into the Automotive Engineering and Engine Reconditioning business for 16 years.  He had a passionate interest in firearms and the way in which they worked.  Phill was always intrigued with the mechanism of any precision weapon to the point of obsession.  With that as a driving force and while he was living in the Burdekin area, he commenced gunsmithing in 1975 by building Muzzle Loaders but gravitated to specialise in Fullbore.  He began creating quality rifle stocks in 1974 and became a full time armourer from 1980.

He first became involved in fullbore rifle shooting in 1969.  Some of the highlights of his shooting career included winning various Prize Meetings (club and district) and the Townsville District Champion of Champions in 1994.  Phill represented NQRA in Perth in 1992 and visited Bisley UK in 1996 as the Australian Rifle Team Armourer.

Phill stated that despite of the uneasy balance of panic and confusion, he was appointed the Armourer for the Australian Rifle Team 2003.

From long-time friend – Jim Blomfield (Bowen):

Phill moved from Mt Isa to the Burdekin around 1968 and soon thereafter he joined the Home Hill Rifle Club where he served as Club Captain for several years.  In 1994, Phill moved to Mareeba and then Tarzali on the Atherton Tableland.  It was at Tarzali that Phill established his world renowned workshop. 

From long-time friend and fellow Armourer – Keith Hills (Cowra):  

Phill and I knew and respected each other over a 30+ year period.  Phill was a fine gunsmith, but he excelled in target rifle stock making.  He was a pioneer in this area and was without peer.

From long-time President TDRA (Townsville): 

Phill built three rifles for me over a 22 year period, and every one of them was superbly accurate. With the third rifle he built for me, we discussed what was needed to improve his F Class stocks. Phill incorporated some of my proposals into my new F Class stock and also let me know why some of my ideas were detrimental to accuracy.  The third rifle is the one I am still using today and I owe Phill a depth of gratification for his skill in building me the most accurate rifle I have ever owned.

From the Manager of the 2003 Australian Rifle Team – Graeme Cleary (Sydney):  

A good man and devoted to the sport in which he excelled at rifle stock making and armourer.

Phill was the armourer for the 2003 Palma Team to the UK.   Phill built all the rifles for the team and refitted new barrels for the NZ Tour in 2003.  I believe that Phill had too much on his plate to go to NZ but made sure everything was okay to go.  

An excellent rifle stock maker and a fellow shooter dedicated to the sport and I don’t think that a person of his skill and devotion will ever exist again.  He will be sadly missed and I must say I still have two of his stocks some 20 years later.

From a grateful international shooter and Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist – Bruce Scott (Townsville):  

In 1978 Phill built my ‘Money Gun’ (a Mk 10) and then in 2002 he built my Barnard rig which consists of an offset ‘drop in’ stock and three barrelled actions – two of which I still use today.  Being of the opinion I could shoot a bent stick, Phill coerced me into using his newly created offset stock and was therefore instrumental in having me achieve an enviable international shooting record from 2002 to 2010 after which I retired from international and national competitions.  Very recently,  on 9-10 July, I was successful at the Cairns Open Prize Meeting (my second attendance at an OPM in 12 years) using the Barnard and Tru-flite barrel in the offset ‘drop in’ stock that Phill built for me in 2002.

This offset stock design became the must have stock for target rifle shooters after I clawed my way into the top three in the Australian target rifle rankings, staying there for about six years.  Phill must have built in excess of 800 rifle stocks in the last 30 years with many of them finding a home in USA.

I owe Phill a debt of gratitude for his skill in building a world class rifle that enabled me to win a Gold and a Silver medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and other major awards at many other significant shooting events.

As I think of Phill Mastin, I am reminded of a quote by Alan Dapre – “Why be ordinary when you can be extraordinary!”  To me this sums up Phill perfectly.

Photograph:  A shoot-off for the 2008 Atherton Rifle Club OPM – both rifles were built by Phill Mastin

Phill Mastin did much for our sport and shooters worldwide have achieved impressive accuracy and results thanks to Phill’s dedication and healthy obsession for the centre of the target.

Phill will be missed by all who knew him personally as well as those who had rifles and stocks built by him.  Phill Mastin will not be forgotten – RIP Phill.

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