LITTLE wonder Masterton Rifle Club members were on a high after the national rifle shooting championships in Trentham this month.

They returned home with an impressive haul of trophies, winning all but one of the team shoots they entered and also making a major impact in individual events as well.

On the team front the Masterton line-up of John McLaren, Ricky Fincham, Owen Whiteman and the husband-and-wife combination of Darryl and Diane Crow dominated the action in the Masefield championship. There they claimed the three best aggregate trophies on offer, the Dawson Shield, which was first awarded in 1889, for short range, the Islington Cup (1911) for long range and the Sir John Logan Campbell Shield (1909) for the overall title. In the qualifying series for the premier event, the Queen's Ballinger Belt, they took away the Petone Shield (1912) for best overall aggregate and the CAC Cup (1914) in the long range competition.

Individually it was John McLaren who grabbed the limelight and if ever there was an example of mind over matter this had to be it. His preparation for the event was hardly ideal with the 69-year-old having fired less than 50 shots all season because of a major shoulder operation in October.


McLaren is fulsome in his praise of the job done by surgeon Ian Denholm to get the shoulder back into full working order but it did mean a change in the shooting style which had taken him to nine world championships. And it also meant McLaren going through a "lot of physio, a lot of exercises and a lot of deep massage" to get him to the point where he could expect to be competitive.

"The rehab was pretty tough but at the end of the day it was a case of putting all that behind you and simply focusing on getting into a comfortable position on the range and concentrating totally on the job in hand," he said.

McLaren took second place -- and the Jim Burton Cup -- in the 10-round qualifying Belt series and despite having the misfortune of having his sighting affected by rain he still managed a very creditable ninth in the Ballinger Belt final. One place behind him was Fincham, a Wellington-based member of the Masterton club who won the Ballinger Belt in 1999. Whiteman, also a member of the national team at the world championships last year, was 20th and Diane Crow, captain of the New Zealand women's team against Australia last year, was 28th. Darryl Crow, a New Zealand selector, was 29th.

In the veterans class for shooters aged over 65, McLaren won the Wally Oakley Cup and gold medal in the Belt series and also the Clapham Cup for the grand aggregate. He was also third in the 2016 Whitehorse Aggregate with Whiteman fourth. Frank Duckett placed 15th in the F-Open and Geoff Smith fourth in the F-TR.

Three members of the Masterton club -- McLaren and the two Crows -- were in the New Zealand veterans team who beat their Australian counterparts in the battle for the trans-Tasman Trophy while Duckett made it into the NZF open team to shoot in Australia in June. And there was big news too for Masterton on the administrative front with Whiteman being elected deputy president of the New Zealand Rifle Shooting Association.