FOND FAREWELL: Retired world champion John Radford sporting his Australian representative uniform and rifle for the last time. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED
FOND FAREWELL: Retired world champion John Radford sporting his Australian representative uniform and rifle for the last time. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED

Top quality shooters on target in tricky conditions

SOME of the world's best shooters converged on the Trenayr Road Shooting Complex on Sunday for round five of the North Coast New England Benchrest Rimfire Series.

The eight-club round robin event features several national shooters, including members bronze medal winning team at last week's World WRABF Heavy Rimfire Championships in Brisbane. Nick Ward (Glen Innes) won the round by one point from Ron Brown (Taree) with Tom Kennedy (Port Macquarie) a single point further behind.

Coffs Harbour's John Radford, who was part of the Australian team and fifth individually, subsequently announced his retirement from the sport and while the 76-year-old attended the event at Grafton, he did not compete.

He said the closeness of scores in tricky conditions reflected the quality of shooters currently competing in this particular discipline on the North Coast.

"It emphasises how high the standard is," John Radford said. "The conditions were frightfully hard. The wind would blow one way for five seconds and then switch and go another way, like a washing machine.

"It's a fierce competition in this region and proof of that is four of the total team of 12 Australians came from this region. Population-wise we're a small region so it's an incredible result."

The triple world champion and record holder once again praised the efforts of the Grafton SSAA (Sporting Shooters Association of Australia), who helped make his career defining trip to France in 2014 a financial reality.

"I really wouldn't have been able to do what I have without their support," Radford said.

"What's impressed me is they're very cohesive and everyone pulls on the rope. The Clarence River has something in the water, I don't know what it is, but there's a marvellous community spirit in Grafton.

"Sunday was extremely well run and credit must be given to John Matthews and the whole committee, especially as their main man Bob Blacklock has been very ill and was absent."

So are there any thoughts of a comeback?

"I've sold all my gear so I'm definitely gone," Radford said. "My rifle has gone to promising Taree shooter Ron Nutt."



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