A shoot to remember
Hunting is rarely a solitary endeavour, it is primarily a shared experience between family and friends. Ves Dubocanin reflects on the day he and three mates waded out to hunt, but only three made it back.
The Steve Bettoni Memorial Shoot is an annual event to remember a fallen mate. A quartet of duck hunting mates from Victoria — Ves Dubocanin, Shane Mcrae, Steve Bettoni and Chris Maskas — were at Lake Genoe in New South Wales for the 1993 opening morning. Steve stripped down out of his clothes to retrieve a duck and, watched on by Shane, he got into difficulty; despite the frantic efforts of Shane, who could not swim, Steve tragically drowned. Shane performed resuscitation as best as he could but his dear mate could not be revived.
It was a tragic loss, one we still feel today, and so 25 years ago we started the annual shoot in honour of our friend.
The first shoot was held at the Cranbourne Field & Game branch and they continued there for 13 years before the club was closed on its original site. The loyal friends, enthusiastic to preserve the shoot in memory of their mate, then shifted it to Phillip Island, home of the Westernport Field & Game branch, where it remains an important and popular annual fixture.
Fittingly, the Steve Bettoni Memorial Shoot is all about camaraderie between mates. It operates as a two-man shoot, graded and handicapped to enable all-comers, regardless of grade, the opportunity to win.
All the prizes for the day are respectfully donated by myself, Shane, and Steve’s brother Bruno.
It is, in spite of its origins, a fun day where all get together for a laugh and also
to remember the passing of Steve, after whom a perpetual trophy for the winners has been named.
The format of the shoot requires a pair of shooters, located in two separate stands, to divide up the targets, deciding (with more than a little banter) which of the three or four targets they will take on.
There may also be five targets launched on a special stand where quick reloading is demanded.
A mystery ‘flash’ target might also offer a bonus $50 cash prize!
It is a real challenge and somewhat of a hoot as competitors shoot their targets, and occasionally their companion’s targets accidentally, or where two shooters fire at the same target thereby limiting their firepower for the other targets flying by.
Watching unbroken targets fly away is very frustrating for the shooting pair who felt certain they had their targets to fire at properly allocated.
The shoot attracts many people from around Victoria because of the format of the event and the special significance of the day. The pairs are offered 100 targets and for the spectators and other teams, it is a novel and very entertaining spectacle. Above all, it is mates helping and supporting and joking with each other, a fitting and lasting tribute to Steve, who was, first and foremost, a great mate.
Overall winners Peter Vaninetti and Aaron O'mara
Semi-auto and under-and-over pairs, are allowed but it's 2 shots only Ves, Bruno, Shane and Kaleb proudly display the shield dedicated to their mate, Steve Bettoni