2017 SSAA National Centrefire Benchrest Championships

The SSAA Jarrahdale Range, south-east of Perth, was the venue for this year’s Centrefire Benchrest Nationals. Shooters travelled from far and wide, with some hardy souls driving thousands of kilometres to be there from April 14 to 17. These Nationals also decided the Australian team for the World Championships to be held in New Zealand in November.

Unlimited class

Friday morning saw the rail guns being set up on the benches. Those that did not have one used their heavy bench rifle, and in some conditions this can actually be an advantage. However, given the relatively placid setting, some outstanding scores were expected.

Any 10-shot group under two-tenths of an inch at 100 yards is pretty good and on the very first lot of targets Paul Sullivan put down a .148 group that no-one bettered for the rest of the morning. The aggregate was always going to be a good one and Mitchell Tallar’s .2400 took the medal.

The longer yardage saw many groups under the half-inch mark, and some under point-4. The best of these was a tidy .337 shot by Milan Morrell. When it came down to the aggregate there was much excitement – Ron Sinclair won it with .2427, which gave him the vital 10th point to put him into the Benchrest Hall of Fame.

Ron’s excellent performance at the longer yardage also sealed the grand aggregate (and the Ron Marsden Trophy) for Unlimited class, plus another two Hall of Fame points. The bridesmaid in all this was Milan Morrell, who was second at both yardages and the grand. Roger Marshall was third. Apart from gaining entrance to the Hall of Fame, Ron’s grand aggregate score broke the old Steve Brown record set at the same range some years ago.

Unlimited top 10
Ron Sinclair WA 0.2475
Milan Morrell SA 0.2553
Roger Marshall Qld 0.2909
Paul Sullivan Qld 0.3055
Mitchell Tallar NSW 0.3112
Brendan Atkinson SA 0.3128
Les Fraser NSW 0.3177
David Kerr WA 0.3183
Gavin Marshall Qld 0.3259
Ean Parsons NSW 0.3331

Sporter Benchrest class

Easter Saturday was set down for Sporter class – 9lb rifles which move around a little more on the bags than their heavier cousins. Conditions were not as good as the previous day but that just made it more interesting.

Groups under point-2 were hard to come by, but on the last target Craig Whittleton managed a nice .145 to take the small group medal. The aggregate saw a terrific battle between Paul Sullivan and John Wyatt with Paul just sneaking it in by .0004 – now that’s close!

Out to 200 yards and while there were a good number of groups under the half inch, Sullivan’s .365 was a clear winner. In a masterful display, Paul also won the aggregate and the Alan Peake Memorial Shield.

Having won both yardages, there was no surprise that Paul had also claimed the grand aggregate. In doing so he managed to hold off John Wyatt and Roger Marshall for the minor places.

Sporter top 10
Paul Sullivan Qld 0.2891
John Wyatt WA 0.3225
Roger Marshall Qld 0.3345
Ean Parsons NSW 0.3659
Robert Bisset SA 0.3706
Darren Parsons NSW 0.3715
Cameron Bailey Vic 0.374
David Kerr WA 0.376
Fergus Bailey Vic 0.388
Brendan Atkinson SA 0.3883

Light Benchrest class

Things turned a little more serious on Easter Sunday, as the Light and Heavy classes would determine the team to represent Australia. All of the smallest groups in the relays were under .150, which is indicative of the strength of the competition. Darren Parsons had started with a .148, but his .117 on the D target won him the medal. In fact, his consistent shooting also wrapped up the aggregate with a fine .2012, from Andrew Faber and Ean Parsons (Darren’s dad).

At the longer yardage, the small groups still came thick and fast. Even a point-3 was not good enough, as Roger Marshall shot a .230 to take small group. However, consistency always wins the day and David Kerr managed it with .2434 from Roger Marshall and Paul Sullivan.

The grand aggregate result saw a very pleased Darren Parsons lift the trophy with .2498 from Marshall and Kerr.

Light Benchrest top 10
Darren Parsons NSW 0.2498
Roger Marshall Qld 0.2585
David Kerr WA 0.2617
Ron Sinclair WA 0.2706
Paul Sullivan Qld 0.2714
Mitchell Tallar NSW 0.2728
John Wyatt WA 0.2798
Andrew Faber Qld 0.2834
Milan Morrell SA 0.287
Ean Parsons NSW 0.2912

Heavy Benchrest class

By the fourth day of the competition, shooters were becoming used to the vagaries of the Jarrahdale range – it is considered by many to be one of the toughest venues in Australia. Time was running out for those aspiring to make the Australian team, and today would settle the issue.

To win a small group award, you had to shoot better than .150 – it was that competitive. Finally, David Kerr sealed it with a nice .119, but his aggregate was a pearler – a .1642, which was a new WA record for this class. William Greer was second with Roger Marshall third.

Last aggregate for the Nationals and the tiny groups just kept on coming. On the final targets of the day, Roger Marshall punched in a .290 for the best group of the morning. This also assisted him to a win in the aggregate with a tidy .2347 just edging out Kerr on .2353 and Ron Sinclair on .2455.

The grand aggregate saw Kerr come out on top with an outstanding .1997 overall score – it was a just reward after all of his work in getting the Nationals to Perth and seeing it through. Roger hung in there for second place with fellow Queenslander Greer in third.

Heavy Benchrest top 10
David Kerr WA 0.1997
Roger Marshall Qld 0.2233
William Greer Qld 0.2398
Brendan Atkinson SA 0.2438
Mitchell Tallar NSW 0.2463
Darren Parsons NSW 0.2486
Gavin Marshall Qld 0.2573
Paul Sullivan Qld 0.2577
Ron Sinclair WA 0.2691
Michael Huebner Vic 0.2738

Multi Guns

The results of the three Multi Guns are highlighted. In the overall 4-Gun, Roger Marshall put on a highly consistent performance to achieve the Holy Grail of Benchrest. The way he is shooting at the moment would suggest that this might just be the first of many.

2-Gun top 10 (Light & Heavy)
David Kerr WA 0.2307
Roger Marshall Qld 0.2409
Darren Parsons NSW 0.2492
Mitchell Tallar Qld 0.2595
Paul Sullivan Qld 0.2646
Ron Sinclair WA 0.2698
John Wyatt WA 0.2827
Andrew Faber Qld 0.2867
Cameron Bailey Vic 0.2943
Craig Whittleton WA 0.2957


3-Gun top 10 (Sporter, Light & Heavy)

Roger Marshall Qld 0.2721
Paul Sullivan Qld 0.2727
David Kerr WA 0.2792
Darren Parsons NSW 0.29
John Wyatt WA 0.296
Mitchell Tallar NSW 0.3029
Cameron Bailey Vic 0.3208
Ean Parsons NSW 0.3231
Robert Bisset SA 0.3236
Andrew Faber Qld 0.3318


4-Gun top 10
Roger Marshall Qld 0.2768
Paul Sullivan Qld 0.2809
David Kerr WA 0.2889
Mitchell Tallar NSW 0.3049
John Wyatt WA 0.3058
Ron Sinclair WA 0.3131
Milan Morrell SA 0.3146
Ean Parsons NSW 0.3256
Brendan Atkinson SA 0.3314
Andrew Faber Qld 0.3339

The 2017 Benchrest Nationals went off without a hitch. Thanks to some planning by David Kerr and his helpers, the shoot ran like clockwork from start to finish. Also much appreciated by shooters were the giveaways from Leupold via NIOA, especially the engraved Leupold 45x competition scope, which was won by Mark Tallar.

Teams to World Championships
A team  B team C team
Roger Marshall Darren Parsons Gavin Marshall
David Kerr William Greer Fergus Bailey
Paul Sullivan Brendan Atkinson John Wyatt
Mitchell Tallar Steve Sori Milan Morrell
All Disciplines