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The ACTA Trap Hall of Fame Inductees

Ken Lowrey Year of Birth:  
ACTA Club: Coffs Harbour
Preferred Discipline: Olympic Trap
Age Started Clay Target Shooting:  
Years Clay Target Shooting: 55
Achievements: My keen shooter father Kelvin joined me up at Coburg Gun Club in October 1958 where I shot a Browning plain barrel auto five pogo-stick starting from 12 yards handicap.

To say I had natural talent was a gross understatement; it took me five years before I shot 50 straight.

Coburg Gun Club in those years boasted the best of the best shooters in the nation with every Saturday afternoon featuring now Hall of Famers Fred Burns, Newton Thomas, George Biggs and Jack McCraith, 1956 Olympians Clem Mudford and John Bryant plus Brian Mark, Peter Wray and Don Glover and a stack of other top performers including brilliant lady shooter and Hall of Famer Violet (Tim) Reade (Jones in the early days before she wore out then husband Bill and married Fred).

The only way in those early days I got into a shoot-off was to be the puller on the manually operated snipe traps, throwing black clays that I am sure were mixed with concrete before the days of araldite, otherwise they would have included that as an additional binding agent.
In thos days one of my puller, trap boy jobs post shoot was to collect the many unbroken clays, making sure I stepped on and crushed the many missed clays with more than 4 or 5 clean holes.

Shoot programs were almost always 10 target eye opener, 20 target common mark 16 yards, 20 target handicap and finishing up always with two bob off the fence 27 yards.

Winning a championship sash in the late 50's and early 60's was a really big deal with maybe one opportunity each month.

Trap boys (as I was one) got sacked if they threw too many broken clays, the proven technique was to tap the clay on the side of the trap and listen, if it sounded solid, put it on the plate after the trap was cocked, if it made a "clack" sound, discard it, it would have broken for sure on release.
A 20 straight back then was usually treated with a polite round of applause from fellow squad members and to make anyone with 19 straight even more nervous. The referee call "last bird" (yes, they were called birds in those days) with many a twentieth landing unscathed.

It wasn't until 1968 whilst I was living in Burnie, Tasmania as secretary of their resurrected club that I finally started to string together respectable scores and making the Tasmanian Trap team in the first ever Winchester Tournament that year brought me under the eye of Winchester Geelong management.

Smart people they were, immediately recognising both skill level, potential and of course modesty, they gave me a sales representative position in Melbourne.

Winchester Geelong struggled then to break the almost invincible barrier of having their Winchester AA Trap loads accepted by prominent ACTA shooters with the highly respected Newton Thomas plus his loyal brigade of best gun shots in Australia headed up by Warren Charlton, Pud (Arthur) Burgess, Doug Smith, Vin Ryan, Jim Ellis, Tim Catling and many others all in the exclusive Blue Star IMI sponsorship camp.
The long overdue Winchester ammunition breakthrough came with my first ACTA National DTL Championship win with the prestigious double barrel title in Griffith 1972.

This surprise victory (not to me) finally broke the IMI stranglehold on ACTA title wins being the first time a shooter using Winchester shotshells had won an ACTA Championship, also the first win also by a shooter using a Winchester shotgun, I was sure popular boy number one with the Winchester executive.

From a personal point of view that day, most pleasing was looking down at the top guns who had dropped out of the shoot off between 150 and 250. Pud Burgess, Sperry Marshall, Jim Ellis and Warren Charlton plus famous visiting American gunner Elgin Gates.
Incidentally, my good mate Alf James won the National Single Barrel in Griffith the following day, also using Winchester Australia shotshells with a then record score.

I shot in and won in 1973 the National Skeet title in Adelaide beating American Geerry Williams and having my then Winchester Australia boss Don McCall telling me to miss and let the visiting yank win; I must have been deaf even in those days.
Coming across from Adelaide some weekends, I somehow made the 1973 Australian Trench team which went on to win the bronze medal at the World Moving Target Championships in Melbourne, this was the first ever medal won by Australian shotgunners at World Championship level. The other team members were Jim Ellis, Peter Wray and Doug Smith.

In 1974, I made f/a at Melbourne Trap Nationals, runner up in Single Barrel to Pud Burgess, runner up in Champion of Champions to Vin Ryan, but did make the Mackintosh team zero points down, the second ever shooter to achieve this result.
In 1974 I made the Australian team for the Switzerland World Trench Championship with Jim Ellils, Sperry Marshall and Pud Burgess. Shot OK over there, but got into trouble with the team manager/coach Newton Thomas because I wouldn't shoot the provided UK manufactured IMI ammunition, neither would Sperry Marshall.

In 1975, I won the ACTA high gun at the Launceston Trap Nationals beating my then arch enemy IMI sponsored Jim Ellis in the shoot off and received the presentation FN Browning (which I still have), up until then all I could beat Jim at was euchre.
Back when I started shooting clays in 1958 at the age of 16, my only dream was to win the blue ribbon National Double Barrel title and to win the ACTA high gun Browning, so I reckon a bit after that.

In 1976, I won the ACTA Skeet title for the second time in Perth.

In 1978, I won the ACTA National Points Score in Brisbane, I also won the ACTA high gun Browning for a second time. But in those years there was a rule that you couldn't take the Browning gun for a second time so I begrudgingly handed it over to the runner up, Doug Smith after the ACTA Executive had to use a crowbar to prize my fingers off.

In 1979, not sure how but I won the ACTA Skeet title for a third time in Adelaide.

In 1981, I won the ACTA Champion of Champions in Melbourne.

Relocated to New Zealand end of 1981 and won the NZ Sparrow National title in Hamilton in 1983 and the NZ Points Score in Christchurch in 1986.

Worked in National and International marketing for Winchester Australia from the end of 1969 to the end of 1989 before retiring to live in Coffs Harbour NSW.
Looking back, I am proud to say I shot with and against the best shotgunners Austalia had ever produced.

I saw the inevitable end of live pidgeon shooting in Victoria in 1956 and watched legends like Donald Mackintosh at the very end of their careers, and I was the "puller" for Mr Mackintosh on his 80th birthday at Coburg Gun Club.

I watched in awe as Newton Thomas dug deep to shoot 300/300 in the 1978 Adelaide Mackintosh shoot after he had to shoot off for the 13th position, the most courageous exhibition I ever witnessed.

I stood in awe as a spectator at the 1965 Australian Gun Club in Burwood, Victoria as Warren Charlton won half the ACTA titles that year in a simply sensational performance.

I watched the emergence of super stars like Jim Ellis, who hitch hiked from Finlay NSW to Perth for the 1970 Nationals and shot the pants off everyone, wearing thongs and using a field grade Miroku.

I told Winchester over there that I reckoned Jim was a one, national wonder; he sure made me eat my words on too many occasions after that.

Bill Iles came across from Fliners Island to Melbourne and shot his way into the ACTA history books around the time I finally started to string a few breaks together in the mid 1960's. He was fantastic then and just kept getting better and is still a threat in every event he enters.

And what about the magic duo Russell Mark and Michael Diamond, I could beat them easily when I was shooting my best but then again, Russell was in primary school and Michael was crawling around in nappies.

And Adrian Cousens, I watched him win his first Skeet National title in Melbourne in 1981 where he broke the national record for the longest acceptance speech.

And who was the best of the best in those early shooting days, my vote goes to Fred Burns who could shoot virtually every discipline, never close to being equalled until Bill Iles really hit his straps 20 years later.

Bill might have lacked the social decorum of most of the famous shooters of the past 50 years but his determination, concentration and killer instinct was second to none. Proud to say he was then and still is a mate of mine.

No Aussie shooter has ever terrorised our Kiwi counterparts across the ditch more than Bill Iles did on his many visits to their Nationals, especially when he was accompanied by his recently deceased yank friend, Leo Harrison who could quite easily wear the crown as the best clay shooter the world has ever seen.


June 2024 CTSN

On the cover: Alex Dallas, Queensland State Trap Carnival Overall High Gun

Inside this month's edition

ACTA Chairman’s Report
Executive Officer’s Report
2024 South Australian State DTL Carnival
World Cup Gold and Silver to James Willett and Penny Smith
ISSF Final Olympic Qualification Championships
Dealer Announcement – Beretta
Psychological Skills for Shooting
ACTA Rules Supervisors
Down the Barrel – QCTA DTL Carnival
‘Around the Traps’ Shooting in Tasmania
Whats Happening in the VCTA
Training Day a Success at Wilkawatt
Weather Impacts on Bega Shoot
Double Barrel, Single Barrel at Maryborough
Shoot Calendar
Break Badges
ACTA New Members

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