Navy took out the inaugural five-stand sporting shooters discipline and Petty Officer Aviation Technician Aircraft Steve Atkins, of HMAS Albatross, was crowned the best of the best for the fifth year running at the Defence Clay Target Association championships held at Wagga Wagga Gun Club in mid September.
Helping run the show whilst also competing was Chief Petty Officer Aviation Technician Aircraft Mick Bryan, of 816 Squadron, who said more people attended this year than in previous years.
“In 2009 we had 12 people attend, that has increased every year to the 41 competitors we have this week - with that amount of people the shoot has still run fairly smoothly,” he said.
“With an event like this it is always challenging to coordinate and getting released from parent units for a week is always a big ask too.
“It’s always a highlight seeing new guys come in and make improvements as well as take out medals within their grade.
“My week has gone okay, I’ve been both happy and disappointed, but any shooter will tell you they could have done better.”
Lieunant Glenn Blizzard, of HMAS Waterhen, had a great week taking out A-grade trap, A-grade high gun, A-grade champion of champions and made the Australian Defence Force representative trap and skeet teams.
He said he had been shooting since he was 13 but only began trap shooting three months ago.
“I just came down for a bit of fun with no aspirations, so it feels good to have done so well,” he said.
“I also came down in C-grade and was upgraded to A-grade, which feels like a real accomplishment - it is great to have maintained that standard and hopefully by next year I will make it to AA-grade.
“I’d never shot skeet before coming here, I just did one practice session the Saturday before - so doing so well in skeet, as well as making both the Australian Defence Force teams have been some of my highlights of the week.
“A stand out moment was definitely during the 50 trap shoot-off where I shot 89 out of 90 and earned both my 50-break and 75-break badges, for hitting that many clays in a row.”
Leading Seaman Aviation Technician Avionics Mark Haughton, of HMAS Albatross, said he was shooting in the Australian Defence Force competition for the first time.
“This has been a great experience - the guys have been willing to give tips and pointers which helped me greatly this week,” Leading Seaman Haughton said.
“I was surprised when I managed a 25 out of 25 for one of the shoots, that was something I was proud of.
“I got a couple of second place medals in my grade - it’s been a great week and I’ve had a great time.”
Petty Officer Atkins said it felt awesome to take out carnival top shot again.
“Competition is getting fiercer each year, so to come away with the win is great,” he said.
“It’s also great to see the numbers of competitors increase each year.”
Petty Officer Atkins qualified in first place in the Australian Defence Force representative skeet team and Warrant Officer Electronic Warfare Dennis Walsh, of HMAS Watson, won the inaugural sporting shield which helped Navy take out that team event.
“It’s been a tough week but I managed to make all three Navy sides which was a personal goal that I was happy to achieve,” Petty Officer Atkins said.
“I’m looking forward to the police and services championships coming up and the New South Wales titles with Chief Petty Officer Bryan - that’ll be tough but we have some really good shooters so hopefully we’ll do well.”
The overall tournament champion shot was Petty Officer Atkins with a score of 682/750, the next best, for Navy, were Chief Petty Officer Bryan and Warrant Officer Walsh tied on 646/750.
Army took out first place with a score of 208/250 with Navy close behind on 200/250 and Air Force third on 176/250.
From 28 October to 1 November the Australasian Police and Services championships will be held at Wagga and the national titles will be early next year. The Australian Defence Force representative sides will be competing for a spot in the Australian team at this event.
Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20152664.