Local knowledge proved the key to success at the Marlborough Rifle Shooting Championships held over Labour weekend.
The championship was won by Marlborough shooter Malcolm Dodson, scoring 477.40 to prevail with a four-point margin from Bevan Mehrtens of the Malvern club in Canterbury on 473.33.
The Kaituna range turned on its famed gusty westerly and northwesterly winds which proved to be difficult to read for all of the competitors, especially at the long ranges.
Dodson's winning score of 477.40 out of a possible 500 was an indication of how tricky it got.
John Snowden from Ashburton was third on 472.34, Petone's Andre Doyle came fourth with 468.37. Next were Marlborough's David Dick, defying his B grade status by finishing fifth and winning B grade on 467.32, while close behind was Amy Hatcher on 467.29. The win by Dodson is the first for a Marlborough marksman since John Dodson won in 1991.
Charlotte Flanagan from Karori was the B grade runner-up with 465.31, with Darren Swaney from Malvern third, scoring 456.24.
In the C grade Darien Miller from Ashburton was the runaway winner with 462.32 from Marlborough's Herman Jansen van Vuuren on 440.16.
On Saturday the early pace was set by two of the younger shooters, Blenheim's Brad Palatchie and Karori's Gareth Miller, who both started by shooting three possible 50-point scores. Palatchie's 300 yard aggregate of 100.12 won the first trophy to be decided and he held the lead on 197.18 at the end of the first day, with Mehrtens on 197.14.
The second day spread the scores with the 800 yard distance being particularly rough. Only half the field of 40 shooters scored above 40 and only two above 45. After the second day Dodson and Mehrtens were both on 382 and Petone's Jon Phillipps one point behind.
The 800 yard match on Monday morning provided variable conditions with some good scores but also a return of the rougher winds of the previous afternoon. Dodson's 49.5 to Mehrtens' 45.4 gave the Marlborough man the break heading into the final 900 yard match where the leading six shot off at the same time. The scoring was unusual with Dodson, Mehrtens and Doyle all firing the same score of 45.1.
The short-range aggregate, contested over the 300, 500 and 600 yard distances was won by Mehrtens on 294.22. The B grade went to Flanagan on 291.20 and the C grade to Miller 288.32.
The long-range aggregate for 800 and 900 yards went to Dodson on 185.12. Dick won the B grade with 179.12 and Miller the C grade on 174.7.
The concurrent teams match for a club team of four was won by the Kaituna/Blenheim team of Hatcher, Dodson, Dick and Palatchie on 1858.128 from Ashburton on 1844.115.
The coached interclub teams match at 900 yards was very close. Malvern scored 269.11 to Petone's 269.8 and Kaituna/Blenheim on 265.15.
Petone were last to finish and with the crowd gathered and the pressure on, they could only get a three for their last shot and so handed the trophy to Malvern. Petone's Phillipps top-scored with 72.2 from Dodson on 71.8 and Ashburton's John Miller on 71.7.
M Dodson short ranges 292.28 , long ranges 185.12, aggregate 477.40;
Dick 288.20, 179.12 , 467.32;
Hatcher 289.23, 178.6, 467.29;
Palatchie 291.23, 156.4, 447.27;
Jansen van Vuuren 277.12, 163.4, 440.16;
Chris Burgess 282.21, 155.6, 437.27;
J Dodson 271.12, 158.7, 429.19.
- The Marlborough Express