The annual NZDA Auckland branch Prize Shoot is a great day out for Auckland shooters of all abilities. Falling in September each year, the weather can be a bit hit and miss, but aside from that, it’s a perfectly pleasant day on the range with your favourite rifle and some mates.
This year – the 46th Prize Shoot – I shot for my second time and my wife completed her first centrefire competition. We both did fairly well, but she truly excelled. I’ll claim that it’s because I sighted the rifle in through my shooting (we shared a rifle). However, all credit to her, as she outshot some great shooters.
That’s another thing that makes the day enjoyable – there are shooters of all abilities. I placed well ahead of some very experienced shooters, but was beaten by someone shooting for their first time ever. And vice versa. It really is a great field of competitors, where everyone can benchmark their performance against others.
At the top of Division A were the usual suspects, including Paul Carmine. My wife, Kassie, took out Division B – which got her called up second in the order of prize recipients, allowing her to choose a really nice Hunting and Fishing backpack for her prize.
This year there were four ladies and two junior shooters. In total, there were just under 40 shooters, making up two details. Last year there were around 60 shooters (despite the inclement weather), and apparently previous years have had a similar turnout. Perhaps timing a competition to coincide with Bathurst wasn’t the best move…
The format of the shoot is very simple and easy to follow. Once the safety instructions and competition rules had been read out, the first detail (Squad A) went to the mound for sighting in and the prone target shoot.
Sighting in is done on a target on the right hand side of the frame, and five minutes are allowed for unlimited sighters. The range for the competition is 100 metres. I got 13 rounds off in this time, trying to get my rifle on point. The lesson here being to always sight your rifle in before competition day if you’ve done some work on it. After 13 rounds, there was a decent amount of mirage created by the heat of the barrel and my new MAE suppressor. However, by taking my time this didn’t affect my prone shoot.
You can use a rest or bipod to sight in, however the rest of the competition is shot without any aids (aside from a shooting mat and a kneeling roll).This means no slings, jackets or gloves.
The prone shoot is 5 shots in 7 minutes – plenty of time. After this is finished and the rifles are cleared and removed from the mound, scorers go forward to retrieve targets. Squad B is next, but in the meantime, people stand around chatting and enjoying the all-day sausage sizzle.
After Squad B, the same process is followed and Squad A goes up for 5 rounds in the kneeling position, also in 7 minutes. Rinse and repeat for Squad B. The last shoot of the day is 5 rounds standing, again in 7 minutes. This is what separates the men from the boys. Some of those scoring in the 40’s in the prone event struggle to scrape 20 together in the standing position.
In between these, there is a 5 round rapid shoot on the 25 metre range, to be completed in 40 seconds. Again, making sure you know your hold under/over and your parallax settings before competition day is invaluable. If you’re sharing a rifle with your partner or buddy, you will be accommodated with an extra rapid at the end – although you’ll probably have time in between while targets are retrieved and people yack on about how they pulled that one shot. Targets are also given out once scored, so there is plenty to talk about during the day.
Generally speaking, the rifles are hunting rifles in hunting calibres. There are some rifles that would look more at home in an F-Class shoot, and some that would be quite comfortable in the lineup for a military service rifle shoot. The most exotic calibre of the day was probably .310 Cadet, with one .22 Hornet and a 6BR making an appearance.
As far as I could see, the only semi-auto was a Norinco M305 (the Chinese version of the M14), whereas last year a couple AR-15’s placed very highly in the field. At the 2014 Prize Shoot I did take an SKS – what a mistake. The iron sights had not been sighted in and after I took the muzzle brake off, the scope’s zero was so off that I wasn’t on the paper. It was an exercise in frustration, and using the iron sights and a whole lot of compensation, I managed to get some scoring shots in the kneeling and standing events.
This year I went armed with my 1943 Husqvarna M38, chambered in 6.5×55. This rifle was sporterised when I got it, and has since been modified even more. Over the last ten or so months it has a new matte black coating applied, the bolt has been replaced and the cocking piece cut down to reduce lock time. I’ve also installed a Vortex Diamondback BDC 4-12 x 40, and a new adjustable BOLD Trigger, which was kindly supplied by Boyds. Completing the setup was a brand new MAE suppressor, which thoroughly impressed my shooting buddies as well as those that heard it perform.
I also have a new Boyds Gunstock waiting to be fitted to this rifle, but I didn’t want to rush the bedding and finishing before this shoot. It should be ready before the 300m Swiss Club shoot in November. And I’ve learnt my lesson – sight in beforehand!
The load I was shooting was as follows:
Projectile: SMK HPBT 142 gr
Powder: ADI AR2208 34.7 gr
Brass: PPU (twice fired)
Primer: Federal Gold Medal Large Rifle Match
Aside from my wife and I, there was one other person shooting 6.5×55. The most common calibre by far was .223 Remington, with 14 shooters using this round. There was one .243 and three .270s, with eight .308 rifles as well. The winning rifle was a .222. There were also four other rifles in this calibre on the day, two placing very low in the field and the other two coming in near the top.
The prizes for the shoot are kindly donated by several sponsors, including major Auckland gun stores, as well as private individuals and club members. Also on offer was a one-year membership to the club, as well as a couple magazine subscriptions.
Dotted along the prize table were all sorts of cool items for the garage, range, shed, field or bush. Ranging from knives and a machete to ammunition, books, cleaning products, car accessories and even a leather-working voucher.
Everyone walked away happy, having picked a prize that was probably worth more than the $25 they paid to enter the competition. With free sausages all day, and a lot of shooting to do, it adds up to a very worthwhile day.
With the prizes on display all day, everyone eyes up what they want, and probably spend a fair bit of time vacillating between equally awesome prizes. Last year the knives were first to go, however this year they stuck around for a bit. There were a fair few on offer, and myself and two other members of HSSRC managed to score three out of the four limited edition Leupold hunting knives. The first place junior made a bee-line for the machete, which was clearly something he’d been eyeing up all day.
Whether you only break out the centrefire rifles a few times a year or you regularly enjoy taking your hunting rig out, the NZDA Annual Prize Shoot is a rewarding experience in more ways than one, and is something I’d definitely recommend.