Shoot-off needed to decide Wingham Open

Aiming up: Wingham Rifle Club member Robert Bartlett contesting the open prize shoot.
Aiming up: Wingham Rifle Club member Robert Bartlett contesting the open prize shoot.

A GREAT field of 116 shooters attended Wingham Rifle Club’s annual Wingham Open.

This is still the largest event in the shooting calendar, second only to the Queen’s prize.

Shooters came from as far as Victoria and Tasmania while there was also a strong contingent from the host club.

This event was shot in perfect conditions which produced outstanding scores.

A-grade was won by Jim Bailey of the Holsworthy Rifle Club who defeated Mark Thurtell of the Orange Rifle Club in an exciting shoot off.

Both shooters recorded a score of 300.45.

In the shoot off Bailey and Thurtell recorded perfect scores, however Bailey counted out Thurtell on centre bulls scored to claim the crown.

This is his second successive win in the championship.

Two other shooters also recorded perfect scores of 300 out of 300 which showed the calibre of the competition for this year’s event. The best of the Wingham shooters was 18-year-old Bronte Thurtell, who scored 299 out of 300, just falling short of her first major title.

Wingham shooter Robert Taylor, contesting the F Class category, had his best performance to date, finishing a mere two points off top spot.

Bailey is currently ranked number one shooter in Australia and is a current member of the Australian rifle team.

He is also the fourth competitor in the history of this competition to win back-to-back titles.

Bronte’s younger brother, Lyndon, finished fourth in C-grade which is his best performance.

It was pleasing this year to see so many schools attend this event including representatives from Sydney Boys High, The Armidale School and also New England Girls School.

“The future of the sport looks promising with all these juniors so interested and full of enthusiasm,’’ Wingham club committee member Tony Moon said.

This showed in B-grade with 14-year-old Alex Davies from the West Wallsend club winning the event by a massive five points.

Interestingly, three of the first four places were school students. Bronte Thurtell was an easy five point winner of the under 25 trophy.

“She is without a doubt the most promising junior in the country,’’ Mr Moon said.

Tony McGuigan won the veterans with a score of 297 demonstrated that shooting as a sport has appeal to shooters young and old, male and female competing at all levels.