SSAA Action Match National Championships

It took 18 years of honing his skills for Victoria’s Richard Siebert to come out on top in a thrilling finish to the 2015 SSAA Action Match National Championships. Siebert held his nerve on the Moving Target, the final match held at the Adelaide Pistol and Shooting Club to the north of Adelaide in Korunye, just beyond the Two Wells township. This year’s event attracted 73 entries over three days of shooting.

Action Match is a demanding handgun discipline, with shooters expected to fire multiple shots in a restricted timespan over four matches. These are comprised of Practical, Barricade, Falling Plates, and Moving Target. The Barricade match was sponsored by Marksman Security Training & Indoor Firing Range in Adelaide.

“We always try to have the top 12 shooters from last year’s Nationals shoot the Moving Target as the last match,” said National Discipline Chairman for Action Match, John Beck. “The pressure on the ‘Mover’ can really play with your head. And sure enough it was the Mover which had the final vote this time.

“You really need to concentrate. A shooter can walk onto the Mover having cleaned the other three matches with a chance to win the event, only to walk away with his head down and in 10th place.”

This year was no exception, with four competitors going into the Moving Target clean and only one victorious. 1920 is the best score you can achieve in Action Match and the National’s total of 1916 enabled Siebert to clinch the outright Open class. Close behind in second spot was Steve Schrader, of NSW, with 1915, and Queensland’s Brett Foster another mere point back after shooting 1914.

Siebert also won the Smith & Wesson Model M&P9 9mm 5″ 10-shot pistol donated by Stuart Collibee from Grycol International Pty Ltd, agent for Smith & Wesson, one of Action Match’s longtime sponsors.

The Metallic class outright winner was Craig Ginger, from NSW, with a score of 1892. Victoria’s Mark Blake came second with 1868, and Queensland’s Christopher Mathiou scored 1863 to finish third. Blake claimed the Production class outright with a score of 1759. Mathiou, who had 1739, was second. Third spot went to Ginger with 1726. The three winners of these classes will have their names engraved on the Smith & Wesson Cup for 2015. Ginger enjoyed further success by winning the Iron Man category, which is the combined scores of the Open and Metallic classes.

The speed and dexterity of the groups was plain to see, with aim taken at various points from the respective targets involving standing and prone positions. For Practical, the shooter starts at 10 yards, but can ‘go prone’ from 15, 25 and 50 yards. You would think 50 yards is a long way to hit that X on the target, but most of the shooters seem to do it with ease. In the Falling Plate match, the opening distance is 10 yards, with prone allowed at 15, 20 and 25. Gradually, the distances are increased so the shooter has to retain a stable mindset, locking out all thoughts of the previous series of shots.

Conditions for competitors on the closing day were extremely testing. They had to cope with searing 34C heat and gusty winds that blew up plenty of dust from the sandy surrounds. On top of this was a seemingly never-ending invasion of flies, which were everywhere – buzzing around shooters’ faces, settling in swarms on their backs, and generally being A-grade pests. A rather more alarming distraction loomed via the sign that greeted visitors who arrived at the main hut at the venue. The blackboard warned shooters to beware, as snakes had been sighted and were active around the fringes of the range, as the early unseasonal heat wave appeared much to the reptiles’ liking.

Walking into the clubhouse, you could also not help but notice a room full of shooting products, as another sponsor, Martin Rudeforth from Impact Trading, had a shop set up filled with all shooters’ needs and lots of bargains.

John Beck had sampled success as part of the Australian contingent at the renowned Bianchi Cup in Missouri in the United States in May 2015, so he knows what qualities are needed to keep ahead of the rest. He was part of the Queensland team for these Nationals, but was out of luck this time as he ended up in 14th place out of 37 starters. “I didn’t do well on the Plates,” he said. “I missed a plate, which is a loss of 10 points that basically puts you out of contention.”

Even so, he was full of praise for the efforts that the other shooters had put in and highlighted some of the intricacies that the points scoring system threw up on the various ranges for the respective matches. “Ninety-five per cent of what shooters need to do is in their head,” said Beck. “All they should be focused on as they prepare to shoot is the red dot on the black X background.

“A shooter can put in a good performance on one range but then not know what is going on with the others behind him. Good news travels fast. If someone has shot a really good score, somehow all the others will know about it.”

Beck, on behalf of all the SSAA Action Match shooters, thanked the sponsors for their support. These included Trevor Jenkin, National Manager from SSAA Insurance Brokers (major sponsor), Grycol International Pty Ltd, Impact Trading, and Marksman Security Training & Indoor Firing Range. Beck also thanked the range staff, caterers, scorers and helpers who did a wonderful job utilising the fantastic facilities of the Adelaide Pistol and Shooting Club.

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