The Dick Travis VC .303 National Competition is all done and dusted. As withthe previous years wewere blessed with near perfect weather at Trentham. All of which makes a good shoot even better.
Saturday morning saw competitors file into the Karori Rifle Club from 10 am
onwards to enter and get their rifles scrutineered by resident gunsmith
Geoff Collings. The Range Standing Orders are quite prescriptive about the
condition these rifles must present in and the host club must adhere to that
standard. Needless to say all rifles but one passed with flying colours. One
rifle was rejected as having a little too much headspace and there were no
bolt heads on hand to correct this. (I must bring a selection in future).
Generally the rifles entered are all well set up and shooters have carefully
picked their best ammo and fine tuned it to suit their rifles. A certain
recipe for good scores over the three distances shot.
A range briefing was given in the Karori Rifle Club mostly for the benefit
of those who do not shoot regularly at Trentham. Matters such as bolts out
off the mound and closing bolts on the shoulder spring to mind. Also for
some the shoot then score routine was new. The actual standard of conduct
and general good will between shooters was exemplary and is a good look for
the .303 shooters.
The WRA was holding a team shoot at the same time as the DTVC so after the
usual Range Officers briefing on the mound at 1pm we all got under way. The
conditions were good with a gentle breeze perfect for high scores at 300
yards. What a start for some! Steve Bain (P14) and Shane Davies (WSRA CLUB
No4) got down and peeled off a pair of 50.7 in their first match!! Well this
was a portent of things to come. The second match saw John Ball (P14) shoot
another possible of 50.4 with Shane Davies and Nicole McKee posting 49.4 and
a 49.6 respectively.
The remainder of the competitors all shot good scores, higher than previous
years, reflecting the rising standard in this .303 Competition. Most of
which comes down to good preparation and good shooting gear. It is
interesting to note that most shooters came back this year with shooting
jackets mats and slings that worked. Onwards and upwards.
The Saturday evening went off a treat because it coincided with the WRA pot
luck dinner held at Karori Rifle Club. This brought the members of the
Petone Rifle Club, Onslow Rifle Club, Upper Hutt Rifle Club and the Dick
Travis competitors together for a good social drink and meal. The descendant
family of Dick Travis were also in the clubhouse. Some having travelled from
Australia and others from the Opotoki area where Dick Travis was born and
raised. It was not lost on the regular WRA shooters that the .303 shooters
were posting some very good scores. As the evening wore on the crowd thinned
leaving just the DTVC crowd leaning on the Karori bar until quite late I am
Sunday morning and the range was shrouded in a very dense mist. So much so
that the 1000 yard mound was barely visible from the porch of the Karori
Rifle Club at 7.30am. However the sun was up and the range cleared as if by
magic in 20 minutes. A great cooked breakfast was cooked by Nicole and
others and served to those looking for some fortification for the next four
9 am and all was still at the 500 yard mound with flags hanging straight
down. It is always good to be down first in those conditions. To get your
shoot in before anything stirs. Most completed their two matches with only a
third of a minute wind changes either side. This showed in yet more high
scores with Nicole McKee shooting two possibles, a 50.4 and a 50.5,
followed by John Ball shooting a 49.5 and a 50.4. In fact after shooting the
two matches at 300 and 500 these two were tied on 197.9 having only dropped
3 points each. So the 600 yard matches would settle who was going to be the
600 yards and the breeze was starting to stir the flags. It was only a
minute and a half maximum but it kept shifting from right to left for most
shooters. Out of the blocks came Richard Liddell shooting the most beautiful
No4 Mk2 any of us have seen. In fact this rifle is in Service trim but for
the micrometer rear sight. Shooting with a blade Richard posted the top
score of 49.4 with all the others finding the extra 100 yards and gentle
breeze more to contend with. Whilst Nicole McKee put up the next highest
score of 47.3 John Ball dropped the ball a little managing a 44.2. Those 3
points separated the leaders going into the final match.
For the last match Kevin Win from the Onslow Rifle Club, shooting a No4
Savage loaned from Nicole, finally gave up on the blade he had fitted
earlier. Going through a box of elements he found a ring that suited his
purpose and went on to shoot the second best score at 600 of 48.3. Perhaps
a ring earlier would have seen a better overall performance from one of NZ’s
top target shooters. There is always next year Kevin!
So the scene was set for a showdown at the second 600 match. John Ball did
know he was down 3 points on Nicole McKee. Apparently she did not. Nicole
laboured away for a string of 5′s and not a single V bull to score n honest
48.0. Meanwhile, John Ball started off with a 3 followed by two 5′s and
string of 7 V bulls for a brilliant 48.7. A really outstanding shoot to
finish the competition. But it was not enough to catch the flying Nicole
McKee, the new DTVC champ.
The scores are posted for all to see. Any analysis shows a great standard of
shooting with a fairly high V bull count to boot. The upcoming years are
likely to see the lower scores climb as the competitors apply themselves to
the job in hand.
Again this year there were good deeds practiced. The sling on the rifle
being shot by Vic McMurdo broke. Sid Duncan saw this and set up Vic with
another sling. There were other instances of fellow shooters assisting with
gear and tips away from the mound. Something the Match Director sees as
being in the spirit of good will so essential to a shoot of this nature.
Competition with comradeship.
On completion of shooting the range was closed and various shooters took it
upon themselves to take down the flags and return the targets to the target
shed. Thanks to all who helped. Thanks also goes to our three times scorer,
Sam Stevenson. His compilation of results was near instant and accurate as
always. He tells me he will be shooting in 2015.!! Thanks also to Maurice
Subritsky for assisting as RO.
The prize giving was held in the Karori clubrooms. It was wonderful to have
Noel Bockett, the great nephew of Dick Travis, on hand to present the
prizes. For the record, new shooter to DTVC Shane Davies shot extremely well
for a creditable third place and the second highest V bull count. Well done.
Shane received a CD that is the electronic form of Roger Wadhams’ brilliant
book on accurising the Lee Enfeild rifle. The bridesmaid and last years’
winner, John Ball, received a signed by Roger copy of that book. This years’
winner, Nicole McKee received a signed by Roger deluxe copy of that book for
bedside reading. Noel Bockett and his family also put up $150 for cash
prizes and Henry Firmston, Steve Bain and Nicole McKee each picked up $50
drawn from the hat.
Another year and another competition. The numbers are slowly rising and
those who swear they will attend next year (2015) is hovering in the mid
20′s. With the WW1 commemorations in full swing no doubt the interest of
other will be piqued. As for a date. This is always a problem. It is hard to
pick a date that will satisfy everyone. This year was four weeks later than
last but luckily smack in the middle of the best weather Wellington has had
this summer. Next years’ date will be decided when the WRA program is
drafted and plenty of notice given. The best advice is to plan for this
competition well in advance.
One last thing. This competition has a special flavour. Part competitive
part commemorative. We are not just shooting these old rifles for points. We
are also shooting them because they were the rifles our soldiers carried
into battle. Most have Service markings and some providence. This is unique
in the target shooting circles today. We are also shooting to honour one of
our Great War VC winners, Sergeant Dick Travis VC. To mark this third DTVC
Nationals Noel Bockett made a presentation to the Karori rifle Club. He and
his family have seen fit to present to the club a wonderful framed photo of
Dick Travis in his NZ Army uniform. This will sit on display in the
clubhouse alongside the second gift, a framed photo of all the medals
presented to Dick Travis. These gifts are received in the spirit they were
given and cement a special relationship between the Karori Rifle Club and
Dick Travis and his family.