Almost 50 shooters and numerous volunteers and helpers gathered on the 25th of April, in almost perfect weather, for the “Fathers & Sons” Anzac Day Shoot at Mt Barker Rifle Range, long since open to mothers and daughters as well. The shoot, which has more than 50 years’ history at the Mt Barker Range but stretches back much farther, is a chance for members of the target shooting movement and their families to gather from as far as Bordertown and Mt Gambier and pay tribute to the brave men and women who have served and continue to serve our nation. This year a special tribute was also paid to Robert Richards-Mousley, who passed away in late 2019 and who was a life member of the Fathers and Sons Association, with more than 50 years of personal history with the association and the competition.
The bulk of the competition is shot over two rounds of eight shots at 600 yards and is coached to allow for those family members who are not regular shooters to join in more easily. Trophies are awarded in each discipline for the winning “father and son” (parent/child) combination, as well as across disciplines for husband and wife, grandparent and grandchild, in-laws, and even open pairs to allow for those who might not be able to bring family to “adopt” someone for the day and shoot. There is also a category for ex-service personnel to compete for an individual award. The final stage of the competition is another 8-shot match between the top four shooters in each discipline and is for the individual honour of winning the Anzac Medal.
This year the Anzac Medals were hotly contested with barely a centre deciding the difference in all three classes. In F-Open Karen Conlon won the day with a 48.04 from Richard Braund on 48.03 and Victoria Braund who shot amazingly well and almost scored a 48.03 as well except she accidently put her last centre-six on the wrong target, a mistake all too common at Mt Barker’s compact range. Kerren Neale, daughter of the late Robert Richards-Mousley, won the Anzac Medal for F-Standard with a dominant performance scoring 48.05. While in TR Bronwyn Hajek narrowly defeated Jasamine Irvine 40.04 to 40.03 to claim her fifth victory in the competition. Bronwyn was also honoured for her years of service to Fathers and Sons Association at the presentation afterwards by being granted life-membership to the association.
In the family pair awards the “Father and Son” winners in each of the respective classes were Phil Bradshaw and daughter Bronwyn in TR, Jim and Jason Caspers in F-Standard and Stuart and daughter Victoria Braund in F-Open. The handicapped award to allow for even competition went this year to Shane and Charlotte Bland, while the Chairperson’s Trophy, the first awarded by new chair, Graham Hancock, because of last year’s forced cancellation, went to Jai and Quinn H Singh.
Other winning combinations were Brian and Leanne Galpin, who claimed the Husbands and Wives trophy, Phil Bradshaw and Jessica Lowe, who took the honours in the grandparent and grandchild category, Richard and Victoria Braund won the “In-Laws” category (in this case uncle and niece), and Frank Marshall and Paul Jenkins won the F-Class open pairs trophy. In a touching moment, the “Brothers” Trophy was won by the brother/sister combination of Kerren Neale and Thomas Mousley, in a further and fitting tribute to their larger-than-life father Robert.
Further individual honours for the day included the top “off-rifle” awards in each class, won by Phil Bradshaw in TR (79.08), Eddie Concannon in F-Std (94.06), and Richard Braund in F-Open (95.10). The Veteran Award, for the top shooter over 60, this year went also went to Richard Braund, who was kindly reminded of his eligibility for the prize by his brother Stuart. The Robert Richards-Mousley Award for the top junior shooter under 25-years of age was this year was won by Victoria Braund. The award for the best score from a former or current member of the Defence Forces was won by former member of the Australian Army who continues to serve as a firefighter in the MFS, Andrew Heard.
Many congratulations to all the winners from the day but also to all those who travelled to take part in and help support this unique tribute to those Diggers who have served this nation and who continue to serve it. Chairperson of the Association, Graham Hancock, also reminded those present of the price many continue to pay in terms of the unacceptably high suicide rate amongst returned soldiers and urged everyone to reach out a hand in support whenever they could. Shooters, their families and returned service men and women were encouraged to continue to support this tribute match which will be held again on Anzac Day 2022 at the Mt Barker Rifle Range.
Lest We Forget.