World Benchrest Championship 2017

The World Benchrest Championship is held every two years and the event moves around the planet on ranges near and far. In 2017 it was New Zealand’s turn to host the affair and so the world’s best benchrest shooters gathered at the Packers Creek Range near Nelson on the South Island.

Each participating country can send a maximum of three four-person teams and this time there were 71 shooters involved. There are also awards given for the individual 2-Gun results.

Practice days
These days are used for fine-tuning rifles and learning the vagaries of the range with regard to wind conditions. Although Packers Creek would have to be one of the prettiest venues in the world with its lush greenery and native flowers, it is also a very tricky setting to ‘read’ as the valley walls are not too far from the sides of the range and the funnel effect can be tough to beat. Shooters flying in from overseas were well catered for as powder and primers were made available by the host club, as were match grade bullets and bore solvents.

Light Benchrest 100 yards
Following an impressive opening ceremony, the shoot began in earnest in cool and windy conditions. All yardages commence with a ‘warm-up’ group that may count for smallest group, but cannot be included in your aggregate. Naturally there is less pressure on this group, but most shooters use it to find out what the range is doing and if their chosen load is working. Only one yardage is shot per day, so there is plenty of time for reloading and more. At this level, groups under two-tenths of an inch are commonplace. The best group for the day was shot by New Zealander Greg Couper with a tidy .076 – unfortunately for him it was on his warm-up group. Many excellent groups were witnessed during the day but when the final scores went up, the top 10 looked like this:

Wayne Campbell USA 1   0.2054
Mike Conry USA 2   0.208
Dave Coots USA 3   0.2198
Gavin Marshall AUS 3   0.238
Steve Sori AUS 2   0.2472
David Kerr AUS 1   0.2478
Mitchell Tallar AUS 1   0.2488
Carlos Pacheco FRA 1   0.252
Roger Marshall AUS 1   0.2592
Hugh Williamson CAN 1   0.2626

Heavy Benchrest 100 yards
With the previous day’s experience behind them, shooters went to the line a little more confident. As expected there were plenty of high-quality groups shot well under the two-tenths mark. The smallest group was a .128 shot by Ed Adams, from the USA. The aggregate was hard fought down to the last relay and finished up like this:

Wayne Campbell USA 1   0.1992
Roger Marshall AUS 1   0.223
Ed Adams USA 1   0.2404
Mitchell Tallar AUS 1   0.248
Larry Costa USA 1   0.2506
Gary Bristow USA 2   0.2522
Bud Mundy USA 2   0.2544
Richard Pollock CAN 1   0.2574
Hugh Williamson CAN 1   0.2628
Paul Sullivan AUS 1   0.2742

Light Benchrest 200 yards
With the shorter yardages out of the way, it was down for action at 200 yards. This is where most shoots are won and lost and it was no different here. Along the way some remarkable groups well under three-tenths of an inch were shot. Steve Sori, from Sydney, put down a new world record group of .138, but unfortunately on his warm-up target. The yardage battle went right down to the last target, as the results showed:

Mike Conry USA 2   0.2613
Chris van Zilj RSA 1   0.262
David Kerr AUS 1   0.2736
Chris Harris USA 2   0.2783
Gavin Marshall AUS 3   0.2849
Brendan Atkinson AUS 2   0.2865
Paul Sullivan AUS 1   0.2915
Gary Bristow USA 2   0.2916
Ian Owen NZL 1   0.3005
Bob Hamister USA 3   0.3008

Heavy Benchrest 200 yards
With this being the last yardage of the tournament it was serious stuff and the pressure to make a good effort was obvious among the leading teams. The weather conditions were probably the toughest of the match, so extra care was needed. Hugh Williamson, from Canada, found the situation to his liking and punched in a .230. The American shooters dominated the aggregate though and at the end of the day it looked like this:

Mike Conry USA 2   0.2458
Gene Bukys USA 1   0.2488
Ed Adams USA 1   0.2593
Bob Hamister USA 3   0.2622
Mitchell Tallar AUS 1   0.2736
Ian Owen NZL 1   0.2753
Wayne Campbell USA 1   0.2777
John Wyatt AUS 3   0.2815
Gary Bristow USA 2   0.2846
Paul Sullivan AUS 1   0.287

Light Benchrest Grand Aggregate

Mike Conry USA 2   0.2346
David Kerr AUS 1   0.2607
Gavin Marshall AUS3   0.2615
Dave Coots USA 3   0.2851
Hugh Williamson CAN 1   0.2853
Chris van Zilj RSA 1   0.289
Kobus Visser RSA 1   0.2911
Chris Harris USA 2   0.2916
Paul Sullivan AUS 1   0.2919
Wayne Campbell USA 1   0.2926

Heavy Benchrest Grand Aggregate

Wayne Campbell USA 1   0.2384
Ed Adams USA 1   0.2498
Roger Marshall AUS 1   0.2552
Mitchell Tallar AUS 1   0.2608
Gary Bristow USA 2   0.2684
Larry Costa USA 1   0.2729
Paul Sullivan AUS 1   0.2806
Hugh Williamson CAN 1   0.2816
John Wyatt AUS 3   0.2843
Mike Conry USA 2   0.2848

Individual 2-Gun Aggregate

Mike Conry USA 2   0.2397
Wayne Campbell USA 1   0.2655
David Kerr AUS 1   0.2795
Mitchell Tallar AUS 1   0.2813
Larry Costa USA 1   0.2833
Hugh Williamson CAN 1   0.2834
Ed Adams USA 1   0.2844
Roger Marshall AUS 1   0.2858
Paul Sullivan AUS 1   0.2863
Gary Bristow USA 2   0.2935

The teams – Australia lands gold

Australia 1     0.2832
USA 1     0.2861
USA 2     0.2963
USA 3     0.3226
Canada 1     0.3371
South Africa 1   0.3456
Australia 3     0.351
Australia 2     0.3596
France 1     0.3761
New Zealand 1   0.3985

For the second time, an Australian team took the gold medal in the World Benchrest Championship. Congratulations to Roger Marshall, Mitchell Tallar, Paul Sullivan and David Kerr.

All Disciplines