Thank you, Mr President, for that welcome for my guests. I wish to speak today on our world champion sporting shooters in this state. Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the South Australian state rifle championships at the Lower Light Rifle Range. I was given the honour of presenting trophies during the formalities of the event. I was lucky enough to meet some gentlemen, who are guests of mine in the gallery today, from the 2013 F-Class world champion side and I just want to make a few comments on the significance of their achievement.
For those who do not know, F-Class is a class of rifle shooting which uses rests and enhanced sights and targets are shot at distances of 300 and 1,000 yards. The 2013 World Championships were held in Raton, New Mexico, USA, over two days in August. This type of shooting was only introduced into Australia in 2000. This was the fourth world event since the inaugural championships were held in 2002. Previous world champions have been the USA in 2002, South Africa in 2005 and Great Britain in 2009.
Preparations began 12 months earlier when a goodwill team competed at a domestic event at the same venue, bringing back valuable information for the Australian team. From here, there was then the search for the best wind coaches to get the most of the marksmen and women. A wind coach’s pivotal role is to guide each shot to the centre by reading the prevailing environmental conditions. Apparently, altitude was something else that the team needed to acclimatise to before the match, with the complex at Raton being 2,150 metres above sea level. Finally, the team’s ammunition needed to be sorted upon arrival, as there were issues getting more than the bare minimum through airport security—understandably, I guess.
Moving onto the actual competition now. There were six teams competing in the F-Class open category, each with eight marksmen, from: Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, South Africa and the United States. I have been informed that the Americans were very confident and, in typical style, were not quiet about it. The American captain was quoted as saying, ‘Barring equipment failure, we will certainly win gold.’ In the second category of field target rifle, there were seven teams from: Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, South Africa, Ukraine and the United States.
The F-Class open team contained three South Australians: Richard Braund, the master wind coach, as well as marksmen Stuart Braund and David Zerbe. Sadly, David is not with us today. In the field target rifle team, Mike Willment was the sole South Australian representative. As I mentioned, these gentlemen join us in the gallery, along with F-Class president of South Australia, Mr John Cramwell, and I am sure you will welcome them to this place warmly, Mr President—as you already have—particularly given their skills.
I am informed that Mike Willment performed well in the individual event, finishing 16th out of 189 competitors. It seems that this win was considered rifle shooting’s equivalent to winning the America’s Cup and that our winged keel came in the form of an innovative wind coaching system developed in North Queensland. After shooting had finished on the first day, a support team in North Queensland were sent the plot sheets and wind calls. All this data was analysed using a tailor-made computer program which further refined the coaching systems back in New Mexico.
The Aussies led the Americans by four points at the beginning of day 2 but, by the end, the lead was 15 and Australia were the champions of the world against the odds. The Field Target Rifle team put in a solid performance and finished fourth overall. The F-Open team performance was a remarkable achievement not only to those involved in the sport of shooting but sport in general, and that should be recognised as it is a sport that does not often get the attention it deserves.
I congratulate the team and these gentlemen and wish them all the best for their future endeavours. They have been very welcome guests in this place and I wish them every success in the future.
Honourable members: Hear, hear!