Victorian State Ladies rifle shooting team claim historic victory

By Tyler Maher

Heather Thomson has helped mastermind Victorian success on the national stage.

The Karramomus Rifle Club shooter recently coached the Victorian State Ladies team to an historic win in what became the final Medland Match.

In the 50th year of the national event, Thomson’s team of captain Carolynn Nitschke (Warracknabeal Rifle Club), Michelle Fletcher (Wodonga Rifle Club), Carol Hulett (Geelong Rifle Club), Gayle Sewell (Wodonga) and co-opted member Donna Negus (ACT) put together a solid performance to take out the match by 15 points.

‘‘We’ve struggled to get a team for the last few years, so we were quite happy to have enough shooters to compete alongside a shooter from ACT,’’ Thomson said.

‘‘It’s the first time I’ve coached, because in the past I’ve shot in the team, but I was pretty happy to be coaching.’’

With a change in format on the horizon, all states recently voted to retire the Medland Trophy, which then Shepparton shooter Frank Medland originally donated in 1968 to encourage more women to take up the sport, meaning Thomson’s team will be the final winner of the silverware.

As coach, Thomson had to deal with the windy conditions in Brisbane, making adjustments for her team members as they zeroed in on the target.

‘‘You have to act as wind coach, you have to read the wind and adjust for the shooters,’’ she said.

‘‘I was pretty pleased with the result and all the girls shot very well.’’

Her efforts had her claim the top shooter and coach combination award with Negus, while Victoria also won the Grand Aggregate and the Griffiths Trophy.

Victoria warmed up for the Medland Match with a solid performance in the President’s Match (15 shots a shooter at 1000 yards) on the previous day of competition, coming second to NSW by seven points.

The Vics then stumbled early on in the main event to trail Queensland by four points after the 300 yards section, but a much stronger showing at 600 yards had Thomson’s troops in front by one at lunch.

NSW won at 900 yards, but Victoria still led by three points and after a patient effort at 1000 yards extended that lead by a staggering 12 points to come out triumphant.

Also shooting alongside the three teams was a team from North Queensland, comprised of target rifle and F-class shooters, as a demonstration for future State Ladies Matches.

‘‘It will be interesting to see what happens for the next matches,’’ Thomson said.

‘‘We’ve retired the Medland Trophy because we’ve added different types of shooting under the umbrella to encourage more girls to shoot and more teams to enter, so we’ll see what happens.

‘‘We’re hoping it will be in Victoria in 2020.’’