Standing L to R - Jim Breeze, Dave Hatherell, Rod Wood, Brian Long [winner], Les Pedersen, Nathan Fennessy  Kneeling L to R – Peter Richards, Col Hall, Glenn Skipworth.Standing L to R - Jim Breeze, Dave Hatherell, Rod Wood, Brian Long [winner], Les Pedersen, Nathan Fennessy Kneeling L to R – Peter Richards, Col Hall, Glenn Skipworth.

The 303 branch of rifle-shooting has been steadily growing from near-death since the advent of 7.62mm, to the present when new life was breathed into it by Bob Bull who organised a series of annual 303 shoots at North Arm each April leading up to 2015, to honour the ANZACs, including his own father who was a cameleer in Palestine.

 

A growing band of competitors has now formed as word spread, and regular shoots for some years have also been held by Darling Downs RC in Toowoomba [which moved to Warwick, and now Dalby], until recently Ipswich, and now rumours of a 303 shoot at Beaudesert and QRA ANZAC day shoot are in the pipeline.

 

About a year ago David Hatherell, a QRA councillor and 303 tragic, along with Bob Bull proposed a 303 competition run in alignment with the regular QRA Queens Prize for 2015. The purpose was to celebrate the centenary since the ANZAC landings, add a point of interest, and to display the capability of the old rifles to any younger members who had never seen them in action and hopefully dispel any horror stories heard about how badly they performed.

The format finally settled upon was to hold an invitation shoot along-side the Queens shoot proper. Given the wide range of equipment quality, and shooter ability, it was thought that a closed competition for those who were well-familiar with the 303 rifle would be suitable and would not cause any intrusion into any other discipline during the Queens, but still provide a talking point and interest during the competition. Scoring was done in two ways. The winners were decided on standard ICFRA targets, and thus compared directly to modern rifle scores. Also recorded were the “one-up” scores to more closely match the old 303 sized bullseyes of the past. This version meant that X, V, 5, and 4 = 5, 3=4, 2 =3, 1= 2, miss = miss, and no vees. Old-timers could relate these totals to the “good old days”. All Shooting was by a variety of standard TR rifles from the 303 era including the blade front sight.

Each range and aggregate was named after a battle of WW1 with special significance to Australian participation. It is sobering to consider we could have shot for many days and not covered all of these during the 1914-1918 years.

In the event, nine shooters nominated to compete over the 300 to 1000 yards 3-day event. All nine were determined to ensure that the highest 303 score beat at least one A-grade TR shooter, and this was achieved in all but the second 500 yards range. Peter Richards was using standard battle sights on his P14 and shot a 39.1 at the 1000 yds beating 3 A graders. Another high-light was when 90 year old Ted Long was called in to tinker with son Brian’s rifle after which he shot 49.4 at 800 yards. Methinks we have it pretty good with modern rifles. Noteworthy too was that Jim Breeze was entry number 303, by chance.

The QRA provided range gold medals, day agg badges and 3 Queens badges which was much appreciated. The Queens 303 winner, Brian Long, made a fine speech at the presentation. Overall it was an enjoyable, hard-fought, contest of old-time rifle-shooting carried out in a most friendly and sportsmanlike manner. The shooters all enjoyed a great three days and were never lonely with interested visitors to the target the whole time.

Brian Long in foreground, Les Pedersen rear, and Dave Hatherell scoringBrian Long in foreground, Les Pedersen rear, and Dave Hatherell scoring
The hardware – oldies but goldiesThe hardware – oldies but goldies
What are the chances????? - Entry no 303!What are the chances????? - Entry no 303!