Shooters get fired up
GUN POWDER, bullet blasts and fluoro pink earplugs set the scene for the Monto Rifle Club’s Annual Sweepstake Shoot last weekend.
With more than 31 competitors from Clermont, Rockhampton, Raglan, Bundaberg, Gemfields, Pheasant Creek, Maryborough, Brisbane, Toowoomba, Pittsworth and even New South Wales and Victoria, competition was tough for the 300 and two 500-yard events on Saturday and two 600-yard events on Sunday.
With gusty wind conditions challenging the shooters, ex-military machine gunner Nick Williamson and Beth Caskey from Pittsworth were stand-out competitors.
“You have to make the wind your friend,” Williamson said.
“Because the Monto range is south-west-facing and in a gully, it makes a sneaky wind, and it’s hard to gauge true wind direction like you can on a flat, open range.”
Biloela QRA councillor Charles Arrowsmith said he used the heat mirage on top of the target to suss out wind direction.
“In summer it (the mirage) is huge, and is moving like the surf, but on a cold day like today it’s moving just enough to see what way the wind is going,” Arrowsmith said.
Despite the swathe of competitors, Williamson’s success was unsurprising – he took out the national Queens competition only a month ago, sells guns for a living and was a machine gunner in Malaysia and Vietnam.
“Despite all this time around guns, I’ve never had a problem with my ears. The most that will ever happen is they ring a bit,” Williamson said, with a laugh.
The Queensland Rifle Association’s first lady board member, Kay Skelton, also made the trek up from Brisbane for the Monto event.
“The thing I love about rifle shooting is that it takes so much concentration it clears your mind of everything else,” she said.
“It’s so absorbing, 10 minutes can feel like two hours.”
Mrs Skelton said she looked forward to a come-and-try rifle shooting day that should be run in Monto in the next couple of months.
GAUGING WIND DIRECTION: Despite trying wind conditions, the rifle shooters remain focused.
Binoculars are used to see the tiny x-ring 600 yards away that the shooters were aiming for.
Monto's Joe Koch struggles with the windy conditions.
Range officer Bevan Goschnick demonstrates how to use a rifle scope.
Noel Porter gets his eye in for the 600-yard shoot on Sunday.