2016 Dick Travis 303 Match Results
Greetings to all the hardy souls who competed in the fifth Dick Travis VC .303 Nationals at Trentham last weekend.
Most shooters have been to the DTVC before but a special welcome was extended to first timers Mike Collings and Malcolm Morrison. Also in attendance were the family of Dick Travis - Noel and Denise, Keith and Rita and this year Noel also brought over from Australia Dick Travis's great great great nephew Zane. It is always great to see familiar and new faces in the Karori Rifle Club (KRC).
The weather was arranged well in advance so we enjoyed two days of sunshine and kind winds at 300 and 500. 600 yards was more challenging and some were "Trenthamed" by the fickleness. The usual format of 2 matches on the Saturday afternoon and 4 matches on the Sunday was followed. It seems to work well and provides a good challenge. There have been murmurings of a change for 2017 with a 500 yard shoot on Saturday morning and a 800 yard 15 shot match to finish on Sunday. This matter has been discussed at KRC and approaches to the powers that be will be made in order to secure the 800 yarder.
The high standard of preparation of rifles was apparent at scrutineering with all entered well up to scratch. The near universal use of hand loaded match ammo and good shooting equipment was also noted and clearly added to the standard of shooting and high scores shot. Most shooters tend to do this Championship 'cold'. By that I mean they may have had a match or two with their .303 rifles prior to the competition and I suspect most turned up to do the business without having spent huge amounts of time on the range.
Trigger time is always a good thing and preparation usually reflects in good scores.
Although I do get out to Trentham from time to time through the Full Bore season I have only taken my .303 target rifle out twice - it showed when it came to wind reading. Whereas Nicole picked up her rifle once since DTVC last year! Some shooters seem to be able to adapt on the spot but most need more time. My suggestion is for all competitors to spend time with these 'vintage' target rifles prior to the DTVC and for those who can get to Trentham to do so and learn the foibles of the wind on that fine range.
That said one thing was apparent. Our scorer, Sam Stevenson, made an aside to me during the 500 yard matches - 'the scores are up'. That they were with 8 possibles shot over the first 4 matches. This is a good thing and continues the trend of improving scores over the last five years. I am confident that we will all continue to improve and show that these battle rifles can indeed be tuned and turned into credible target rifles despite their military origins. The scores are attached and make great reading. The winner for the second time, Karori's Richard Liddell, shot 5 49's and a possible to win. First place was tied going into 600 yards. It was that close. A winning score of 295.25 is the new benchmark and has set a high standard. Well done Richard.
Another enjoyable aspect of the DTVC is the outstanding butts service given by seasoned target pullers. Quick accurate service makes for settled shooters with minimum waiting for the result and the ability of a quick follow up shot when the wind remains the same. Thank you to Kiriahi and Rex McKee and also our scorer Sam Stevenson for another great job.
Although I normally write a comprehensive match report this year I am going to attach a very entertaining report written by competitor Henry Firmston (below).
The DTVC .303 Nationals have been a success each year and the addition of the excellent cloth badges and for 2016 a purse of $500 has been welcomed by competitors. Thanks goes out to Firearms Safety Specialists New Zealand Limited (Nicole McKee) for the cash prize. Also thank you to the Travis family for their cash prizes for 2nd - Nicole McKee and 3rd - John Ball.
This year Noel handed me an envelope with a cash prize for the most deserving shooter - going to Petone's Stuart Brown for an outstanding out of the blue double possible at 500 yards.
Over the last five years there have been 32 different shooters who have come to the DTVC shoot. Perhaps one year we will see them all there at the same time! Those who have come have all left with a grin and a sense of participation in a unique event. The competition and the commemoration of our Great War VC is there to enjoy.
Best regards to all.
Dick Travis 303 Match.
For the uninitiated a few target rifle shooting terms explained;
Rifle, a precision tool able to shoot into a 1/2 MoA at 100 yards.
Rifle shooter, an eagle eyed nimrod able to see 1/2 MoA at 100 yards.
Spotting scope, similar to a ground based Hubble, able to see ants at 1,000 yards
Target, the aiming mark for the rifle shooter
Centre bull, the centre of the target, maximum score
Bull, almost a centre bull but slightly less value
Inner or Four, not as good as a bull
Three, a "magpie" to be avoided
Outer or Two, worse than a three
One, so bad that you can't believe you've done it
"Maggie's draws", a MISS!
Given the requirements of a target rifle and the small size of the targets, never mind the bulls eye, why would any sane person further handicap themselves by trying to shoot targets with a military issue bolt action 303" rifle even if fitted with target sights?
Why would 13 such fools assemble at Trentham's Seddon rifle range, home of the most fickle winds known to targets shooters and attempt such folly?
Simply, we're nuts, more importantly it was the 5th annual Dick Travis VC commemorative 303 rifle match.
Little known, even in NZ, Sgt Richard "Dick" Travis VC was NZ's most decorated NCO of the 1st WW.
Duncan started this exercise in folly, and it has developed a small, but mad, band of followers over the years. As each year goes by we promise, never again, and next year I'll have sorted out, my rifle, my ammo, my sling, my sights.......
A Lee Enfield in any form is the antithesis of a target rifle, the 303 calibre is less than optimum, but we persist in trying to prove the experts wrong. The rifles have evolved, the number of P14 rifles in use indicates that if we must have a 303 then at least we'll get the closest to a target rifle we can. The die-hards persist with their beloved No4 rifles and one even still holds dear to his SMLE, brave choice Ernie.
Having had a sermon on the mound from Duncan, as required by RSO we settled into squads for the first range, 300 yards.
Duncan has, in deference to our age, or possibly our vanity, allowed us to shoot on the larger "mid-range" target at this range. The bulls eye is 10" across, but even so many of us found it tricky.
Enter Mike, son of Din and Viv, a target shooter of no mean ability, he's represented us at the commonwealth games. Using one of Din's own P14 rifles Mike set a cracking pace with a double possible at 300 yards! Letting him know he wasn't the only shooter of note Nicole put in a spanking 99.12 and Richard a 98.9. This was the end of day one and we retired to the club house where Karori RC had arranged a spit roast dinner. The cold drinks were also enjoyed!
Sunday, day two, (for those who can count) and no drop outs! Again into the fray strode (drove) the mad 13. This was were the men and ladies sorted out the boys!
500 yards, shot on the rifle clubs 800-1,000 yard target.. A bullseye of 16" across, it's huge! Except from through the sights of a 303 rifle, with a long pull, and 7lbs of trigger pressure. Here we did find out about Trentham, it was calm! We waited with hope in our hearts, for our turn to shoot, it drained, slowly away as the breeze gently rose with the day.
Step forward a champion, to tame the beast. Stuart new to shooting, but determined and sharp of glasses, he bested the beast. A double possible at 500 yards!
Giving him little chance to rest, snapping at his heels, came the pack!
Richard on 99.10, Shane on 99.8 and Nicole on 98.6.
We broke for lunch. Many of us considered our future as rifle shooters. Many considered finding a job that needed doing, at home. But we are mad, so we stayed and took our medicine like the fools we are.
600 yards, as far as we're allowed to go with a 303 calibre rifle at Trentham range. It's only 100 yards further than where we were before lunch, but some how it's another place!
Many came to grief here! Many shed tears, many offered their first born, to the shooting gods! Anything to be able to read the wind! The light, fickle, wavering, changeable, bloody wind! Top quality shooters lost their way, tyros (beginners in shooter speak) wondered how anyone ever hit the target, much less the bull?
We didn't miss!!! We came close, but we didn't miss!
Our wildest shots found the target, that wonderfully huge target.
Only the best did well here, it's the place for expert readers of the wind, 5 years isn't enough! Ten years is barely enough! Din studied the wind at Trentham for 40 years, he was a master of it, we are not worthy!
We needed a champion to lead us, step forward Richard, he worried us for a time but he found his way again and he lead us at 600 yards. Back to back 49s with his No4 was enough. John B with 46-48 from his P14 showed what experience can achieve, to make second at this range. Ernie and his trusty SMLE took third spot with 45-47.
When the day was done and the thirsts had been broken we gathered with some of Sgt Travis's family, who have come each year to support us, to hear our fate.
Top shot and second time winner was Richard L with his No4. In second place Nicole M also shooting a No4. Third by only 3 centres was John B with his P14.
We spent time talking with Sgt Travis's family then made our excuses and headed home. The equipment race starts tomorrow! Next year, or the year after, if Duncan will consider an F class? Some day Trentham some day!