RIP Ben Hoban


Ben Hoban, a Life Member of the NRANZ, died on Sunday 1st July. He was aged 96 years. 

I believe Ben started his shooting career as a very young lad for the Culverden club in North Canterbury, before the outbreak of WW 2. Later he served in the Italian campaign in the NZ Division 23rd Battalion, alongside Roy Martin from the Karori Club (father of our current NRA secretary), and probably other shooters of the time, under our late Patron, Haddon Donald. 

After the end of the war, he returned to his family’s farm in Culverden. He continued shooting for that club until its demise, when he joined the nearby Waiau club. This too folded, and in the early ‘80s he joined the Malvern club. Later, after retiring from his farm and moving closer to town, I believe he was a member of the Christchurch club, although his shooting days were almost over by then.

Ben held many offices in the NRANZ and for several years served on the Council as the Canterbury delegate. He was later elected President and served in that capacity for some years. He was also on the national selection panel, and was Convenor of Selectors for a time. 

He was a member of several NZ teams between 1969 and 1979, mostly as Manager or Commander. He was NZ Team Commander for the first Palma match to be held in NZ in 1979. When the Commonwealth Games were held in Christchurch in 1974, Ben led the organising committee for the full-bore event which was held on the West Melton range near Christchurch. 

At the 1986 Commonwealth Games at Edinburgh he was Full-bore Discipline Manager for the NZ team of Frank Godfrey and Chester Burt.  For his work in all these areas, and in recognition of his services to the NRANZ he was elected an Honorary Life Membership of the NRA of NZ. 

While researching for this, I spoke to a number of Ben’s contemporaries. 

Barrie Hunt from Ashburton, remembers him, first from miniature rifle shooting (remember that?) in the early ‘50s. He described Ben as “a great guy and a very good coach at full-bore too”, particularly for Canterbury in the quadrangular matches which were held annually, in turn at Marlborough, Nelson, Canterbury and Wellington. To even be included in those teams at that time was to be acknowledged as an extremely good coach or shooter. 

Murray Lattimore, also from Ashburton was a close friend of Ben too and remembers him as a down to earth man who although often holding high offices, always had time for every shooter irrespective of his or her standing. Others I spoke to also mention these attributes. 

Although Ben held all these senior offices mentioned, he was also a very keen competitor. There were very few championship matches from Invercargill to Nelson, which Ben did not attend. He won many trophies, and perhaps the best of these were runner-up for the Ballinger Belt and also, I believe runner up in the NSW Queen’s. 

Ben enjoyed the social aspect of shooting too. Although he was often seen with his business satchel under his arm, at other times he had another case which he brought out to share when relaxing after shooting or later at night after a meeting. This contained a bottle of scotch and a bottle of gin, along with six small glasses. These two activities earned him the nickname, Briefcase Ben. He seemed to enjoy both the contents and the nickname. 

Outside of shooting he was a staunch member of the RSA and was also very devoted to the Order of Saint John Ambulance Service, where he held several offices over the years. 

In the seasons, he enjoyed both duck shooting and salmon fishing on the nearby Hurunui River. 

Ben’s funeral was held on Friday 6th July, and was attended by several current and past NRANZ members from the Canterbury area. 

He is survived by his wife, Joy and their family. 

We send them our condolences and acknowledge Ben’s contribution to our sport at all levels. 

Geoff Smith.

7 July 2018

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