Phill Hodder almost claims another title – Bathurst OPM 22nd October 2023

The last Bathurst OPM was held in 2019 – so the Central West shooters were pleased to be able to return to the Bathurst Range to compete. The announcement of the Bathurst OPM meant a compulsory return to the range for Phill to try and defend his title from 2015. Phill, Adrian and Ross met at midday on Saturday on the Bathurst Rifle range for the Saturday afternoon practice at 600 yards. The winds were a very strong 12 to 16 MPH coming in from the left and sometimes dropping and swinging to come in from 1 oclock.

After meeting old friends in the Club House and signing in – the Roseville members joined the Bathurst Club members for a Saturday afternoon shoot. Club Champions Steve Williams and Graeme Bright both set an ominous tone – telling us the wind at this time of year is really tricky and that they were lucky to post 95 or 96 in recent Club shoots. Having never shot on Bathurst Range – Adrian surprised everyone and posted a 50.3 for his first practice shoot – watching the flags intently and making wind corrections that saw him move from 1.5 right out to 5.5 right during the shoot. Phill posted a credible 48.5 losing one left and one right and Ross posted a 44.0 with one of the best water lines you will ever see – but the wind getting a hold of him.

In the second practice match – Adrian experimented with the wind and posted a 44.1, while Phil improved on his first practice to post a wonderful 50.5. Ross had another tough time of the tricky cross-wind again shooting good elevation but shots drifting out the left hand side.

The Saturday afternoon practice was done by 3:30pm and it was a hot day. The Bathurst Council won’t allow visitors to camp on the rifle range – so Ross, Adrian and Phill headed to a beautiful free-camping site called Flat Rock Creek 19km out of Bathurst. The boys arrived at Flat Rock Creek at 4:15pm and a swim in the river was in order followed by a cool crisp Ginger Beer. There were plenty of camping groups set-up in the camp ground – showing how popular this spot near O’Connell is. As the sun went down – Adrian cooked up dinner of Franks and Beans before we turned in for the night.

The next morning the sun came up and the campsite was quickly packed up as a beautiful day beckoned. The intent was to be on the rifle range by 8am for a wonderful day of shooting. Nigel Russell joined Phill, Adrian and Ross to represent the Roseville Rifle Club.
There were only 3 Electronic Targets for the competition and due to popular demand the Bathurst Rifle Club increased the entry to 40 shooters. With this in mind – the competition organisers made the decision to change the programme and shoot 3 matches at 600 yards. Adrian was drawn first down – and the wind was even stronger from 3 o’clock than the day before. He chalked up a 48.2 in the first match was proved to be quite competitive in TRA. Phill posted a 48.2 as well – with Nigel taking the match in TRC with a 47.4 and Ross posting a credible 51.3 – much improved on the previous day.

The wind got tricker at the second match with “holes” showing up in the flags dropping down the pole and the wind turning to 1 o’clock. The smart play was not to fire when this happened – those that got caught chalked up a guaranteed maggot.

Adrian shot first as the order rolled through and posted a 47.3 which again proved to be quite competitive given the conditions. Phill stepped up with a 49.2 – and excellent shoot under the conditions and one that got him on the podium in TRA. Nigel forgot to check his target number and put a centre bull on the target next door – in a shoot that would otherwise have won him the 2nd match. The wind got the better of Ross and he posted a 48.

The final match was a 15 shot match – and Adrian experienced something very strange. In gusty 16 mile an hour winds – his first 3 shots were a clover leaf in the inner 4 ring at 1:30. It was unbelievable and he stopped shooting and protested that the Target was not calibrated properly after the lunch-time repairs made to the target face. The next shooter on the target was called up – an F-Class shooter – to put a couple of shots on the target to test it. His two test shots were a bull at 7:30 and a V-bull at 9 o’clock. The Range Officer requested Adrian re-commence his match – and with on scoring shot on the card there were no sighters. Adrian settled in and shot a quick-fire 71.6 – again posting quite a competitive score in the conditions. Phill shot next and chalked up a 71.3 to hold in 2nd place in the aggregate and keeping his two point lead over Adrian. Nigel won the 3rd match posting a 69.4 and Ross also posted a 69 to finish his day.

The final standings on the day were: Phill Hodder 2nd TRA 168.7, Adrian Bonanni 6th TRA 166.11, Nigel Russell 2nd TRC 157.10 and Ross Webb 3rd in FSB 168.3.
It was a very challenging day – a real rifle shooters day – where supreme wind reading skills were needed to hold the bulls eye. here was not one possible shot in TR over the entire days competition – and the winning score posted by David Brown of Narromine Dubbo was 170.11. It was a great weekend and you can see all the shooters plots here: Club Scores – Plots 2023 | Bathurst Rifle Club Inc. ( We will definitely be going back next year.

The trip on the way home was filled with mis-adventure with Phill channelling his inner Brockie and taking a corner too fast on the way back to O’Connell to end up spinning off the road and ending up in a ditch. His trusty Toyota survived the ordeal, and apart from being a bit shaken – Phill was able to call Ross and Adrian for assistance and to organize a tow truck to haul him out of the ditch and drive back to Sydney. We are glad he survived that one – he lived to tell the tale!

Adrian Bonanni

One Response to “Phill Hodder almost claims another title – Bathurst OPM 22nd October 2023”

  • Tim Walter says:

    Holy Hell Phill!

    Great shooting and glad you survived the crash.

    Perhaps it was the same corner I did the same thing on back in the 70”s but it was raining then!

    I was in Dmitri’s safe hands!



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