The Armidale School’s Tom Southwell has been selected into the Combined AAGPS shooting team, following a consistent performance at the Great Public Schools championships at Hornsby Rifle Range in Sydney on 18-19 July.
It will be a memorable 18th birthday for Tom, from ‘Valley Heights’ Bingara, who will come of age on Sunday with rifle in hand as the rep team lines up against various district rifle association teams for the Josephson Shield.
“I was hopeful, but didn’t expect to make the team. It’s as good a place as any to spend the birthday, the celebrations will just have to wait until after,” said the TAS shooting captain, who ranked fifth of the 73 shooters from the seven GPS schools which participated.
Tom and shooting vice captain Sam Cannington, ‘Glenall’ Bingara lead the TAS team which was in the mix of the championships, which comprises three matches for the First VIII as well as a single Second VIII title.
On the first day of competition on Tuesday morning, the TAS First GPS selection for top TAS shooter VIII had solid results in the Rawson Cup, shot at a 500m and 600m stage, and placed third overall behind Newington College and Shore. The 600m stage was particularly strong for TAS with Cannington (35.6) and Southwell (35.3) the top two individual shooters, neither dropping a bullseye. Strengthening winds of variable speed and distance made for challenging conditions in Tuesday afternoon’s NRA Shield over 600m with TAS placing fifth, with Newington again achieving the highest score of the match.
The second day of competition commenced with the Second VIII shooting a seven shot stage at 500m followed by seven shots at 300m for the GPS Seconds Premiership Shield. While TAS placed fifth, it was an historic event with team members Erin Page and Sophie Tongue making history as the first girls to compete in an official GPS shooting competition.
In the final match of the premiership, the Buchanan Shield, which involved a 300m eight-shot deliberate stage followed by a snap application, TAS amassed 577 points from a possible 640, ranking fourth – Newington making a clean sweep of all four competitions and winning the premiership for the first time since 1909. Southwell also collected the Bisley Bullet trophy for the highest individual aggregate between TAS, Sydney Boys’ High and New England Girls’ School (who can shoot alongside the GPS competition). “The competition was fierce and it was very close with just a few points separating teams in some matches,” TAS shooting MIC David Lawrence said. “Ultimately though I couldn’t be more proud of the way the shooters shot to their potential, never gave up when they dropped a shot and supported each other throughout.”