Lock and load - champs ready to go
The strength of shooting in Southland is being seen in the level of interest in this year's Southland Down the Line Championships.
About 100 clay bird shooters are expected to enter the two-day event on December 1 and 2 with people coming from as far as Canterbury and some expected from the North Island as well.
The Nightcaps Gun Club is hosting the champs this year and president David Dickie said it was the biggest event on the club's calendar.
''We've been preparing for about nine months to get it organised.''
Members of the public are encouraged to come along and enjoy the shoot over the two days.
The event rotates between the Nightcaps, Mataura and Southland gun clubs and involves A, B and C grade competitions, along with ladies, juniors and veteran sections, with badges, titles and grade placings on offer.
The Southland provincial title was also on offer, he said.
''The best person on the day will receive the Southland title. It's anybody's on the day - so that's why we get the numbers.''
Good sponsorship support from Shooters World in Gore, Southern Suzuki, Transport Services and JJ Ltd has helped with the event.
About 15,000 clay targets are expected to be used over the weekend with four matches on Saturday and three on Sunday. This includes skeet, single rise, triples, point score and single-barrel shooting.
This is the 10th year the Nightcaps Club had hosted the event and Mr Dickie said there is still good interest in shooting and good numbers set to enter the championships.
''At the moment shooting is very strong in Southland - probably one of the strongest areas in the South Island,'' he said.
He puts that down to the province's rural backbone with duck-shooting, hunting and rifle shooting popular in the province.
Another hotly-contested competition over the weekend will be for the challenge shields, battled out between the Southland and Otago clubs.
The highest scores across the weekend from 12 shooters from each province, in the A team, compete for the Speights Shield.
The B team shoot it out for the Borthwick Shield.
The Speights Shield has been contested since 1966 and the Borthwick Shield since 1974.
''Southland's dominated for the past six to eight years - and there's quite a lot of rivalry between the two groups. There's quite a lot of history there.''