The Palma Match, or the World Championship of Long Range Rifle Shooting, is the most prestigious team event in the shooting sports. Shooters worldwide train and compete for four years for the honor to represent their Nation both as Individuals and Team members. The first Palma Match was held in 1876 at Creedmoor range in New York, and resulted in a win for the United States.
The Palma Trophy is a 7 ½ foot tall Tiffany creation with a copper eagle and silver laurel wreath atop a panel mounted on an ornate steel shaft, bearing the word “PALMA.” The original trophy sat outside the U.S. Secretary of Defense’s office; however when the Palma matches were suspended between the Great Depression and World War II and with the move the Pentagon in the 1940’s the original trophy was somehow lost. A replica now exists and travels around the world every four years. The trophy is presented “in the name of the United States of America to the rifleman of the world,” for which an official Palma match must require USA among the competing Nations.
The 2011 World Long Range Rifle Championships were hosted by the National Rifle Association of Australia (NRAA). Australia has an interesting history with the shooting sports. Australia’s first marksmen were convicts and marines who landed in Sydney cove in 1788. The commandant required the settlers to practice musketry every Saturday. During a famine in 1790 the Governor selected the best marksman and organized them into hunting parties, their marksmanship prowess enabled them to provide sufficient quantities of kangaroo and emu’s, thus ensuring the survival of the earliest settler’s in Australia.
The modern day World Championships are composed of the host nations National Championships, The World Long Range Individual Championships and four different Team events. These Team events include an Under 25 Team Event; five team shooters and two coaches must be under the age of 25. The Veterans Team Event; ten shooters and two coaches must be over the age of 60. The Goodwill Team; is selected from a nations National Team, these are often reserve or alternate shooters to the main Palma Team, consisting of 10 shooters and two coaches. Last, but not least the Palma Team; consisting of 16 shooters and 5 coaches.
Brisbane, in the province of Queensland, was the host to the 2011 World Long Range Rifle Championships. Set on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, the area has some amazing geologic formations and some of Australia’s most beautiful beaches. Over 475 shooters attended the matches, representing nine countries. Countries presented included Australia, United States, Great Britain, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, Japan, Germany, and Ireland.
Australia’s National Championships are organized similar to the US Nationals in that there is a President’s Match and then a National Trophy Match. However, in Australia there is a President’s Match and then a Queen’s Match. Shooters fire over a 9-day period to get to the final aggregate. The Queen’s match is a “big deal” and the Governor of Queensland even arrived to present the trophy to US Shooter John Whidden this year. The US had nine shooters in the top 20 finishers.
Following the Queen’s Match, The World Long Range Championships began. Over 475 competitors battled rain and intense, rapidly changing winds from 800, 900 and 1000 yards. It was not uncommon for the wind the move the placement of the bullet over 10 feet in a short period of time between shots, shooters had to quickly access the situation, apply the proper adjustment to their sights, make a decision to shoot and then execute a shot flawlessly at ranges out to 1,000 yards. Rules require the use of a .308 caliber rifle, with iron sights, and no more than a 156 grain projectile. This levels the field amongst all shooters, they must not only be amongst the world’s greatest Marksman, but also have the world’s greatest ability to read the wind over longdistances. For most shooters, the honor of being in the top 100 shooters in the world is a goal. Richard Jeens, from Great Britain won the World Championships after four days of shooting and claim to the title for the next four years as World Champion. Team Results.
The USA Young Eagles, Under 25 Team was successful this year in defending their 2007 win and once again claiming the title or World Champions. The US Veterans (over 60) Team placed second in the Veterans Team Match, losing to Australia.
The 2015 World Championships will be hosted by the United States. The planned location is currently Camp Perry, Ohio following the US National Championships in August. The National Rifle Team is already making preparations for an exciting and premier event.
Dave Kloft, a member of the U.S. Palma Team and a shooter for the US Army Reserve, sent NRAblog the preceding report on the World Rifle Championships from Brisbane, Australia.