Judy Peacock from Murchison at the South Island Benchrest Championships in October. Photo: Supplied.

World champs fired up

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Nelson is playing host to 14 teams from around the globe taking part in the World Benchrest Championships at Packers Creek Range, Maitai Valley, starting later this week.

Benchrest is known as the “super accuracy” game of the shooting sports with competitors attempting to put a shot on the target, followed by four more through the same hole. And with team events you have all four members aiming for the same hole.

“We are the only sport where it can only get worse after the first shot,” laughs organiser Graeme Smith.

Teams from Canada, Italy, Finland, France, South Africa, United States, Australia and New Caledonia, as well as individual competitors from Luxembourg, Indonesia, Argentina and Namibia will be competing in the 10-day event. Graeme says that organising the biennial championships has been a massive undertaking, four years in the planning.

“It’s a big effort, but it’s the second time we’ve hosted the event and last time was such a success,” says Graeme.

Unfortunately for Graeme, hosting duties means that he won’t be shooting this year. The New Zealand record holder and Oceania silver medallist has shot at nine world

championships and organised two. The world championships were last held in Nelson in 2001.

Competitors use state-of-the-art specialised single-shot rifles to enable fine adjustments to be made for temperature, humidity, wind and sun.

“They’re so specialised that you would never use them in the bush,” says Graeme. “Some of the telescopic sights are as high as 60 power, whereas a normal hunting scope is about six to eight power.”

Throughout the five days of competition the shooters will compete in team and individual events with light and heavy weight classes over 100 and 200 yards. While not competing, Graeme is also providing them with the opportunity to enjoy a bit of what the region has to offer.

“It’s a great opportunity to show off Nelson and New Zealand and is a real economic boon as well.”