BATHURST’S Jeff Eppleston, Brett Bond and Geoff Willis have excelled on the international stage, bringing home silver for Australia at the recent F Class World Championships in Canada.
The Bathurst trio narrowly missed out on gold in the FTR division at the Ottawa event, with the eight-man Australian team scoring 3,394 points to the United States’ 3,400.
Australia shone in Canada. The F Open team won gold in a tense battle with the home nation and Rod Davies topped the score sheet in the F Class Grand Aggregate.
“It was a wonderful experienced with so many like-minded people in the one venue,” Eppleston said.
“I think from an Australian perspective we had shooters from Queensland, New South Wales, ACT, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, so representation across the whole country.
“It was great to have three of those being from Bathurst.”
It was an especially pleasing trip for Eppleston who also brought home gold at the lead up Canadian Championships in the combined FTR and F Open event.
Eppleston said the Canadian Championships gold prior to the World Championships was a pleasant surprise.
“I wasn’t sure how we’d stand up internationally I suppose, but we shot very well, we were coached very well and very pleased to get the gold,” he said.
“It was an ideal warm-up for the World Championships. It gave our two coaches a great practice opportunity as well.”
Nothing could separate the Australian and USA FTR teams throughout the event.
Teams shot over 700, 800 and 900m ranges over two consecutive days, splitting the competition up into six stages.
The gold was never out of the Australians’ reach.
“We were in the hunt right up until the very last range,” Bond said.
“Whilst things may have been a bit different if we planned differently, from a management perspective, we were very happy with the performance and the way the team gelled.
“It’s a great honour to represent your country. It’s a lot of hard work, and a lot of hours went into preparation, but we’re very satisfied with the outcome.
“All credit to the Americans, they shot very well. They’re a lot closer geographically and they’ve had the chance to practice there for the last three years, which we haven’t.
Willis said Australia did well to take it to the American team given their unfamiliarity with the environment.
“On the last range that’s when conditions started to get tough,” he said.
“Things are totally different over there compared to what I’ve seen over here in Australia.
“There’s very high humidity, around 70 per cent this time of year, and other conditions peculiar just to that location came into play.
“Perhaps the other team handled it a little bit better than us on that very last range.”
The Bathurst group were thankful for the assistance provided by others on their journey to Canada.
“We’d like to thank the Bathurst and Lithgow Rifle Clubs for their support,” Eppleston said.
“We’d also like to give our thanks to NSW Rifle Association for their help,” Willis added.