Is joining a gun club a good idea even if you don’t need it for your licence?
Should gun clubs get political – and why?

You’ve got your licence – but have you ever been to a gun club?

Anyone with a licence knows that being a member of a gun club is one of the genuine reasons that will enable you to get and keep your licence.

However only one in five shooters actually belongs to a gun club – which means that there are hundreds of thousands of licence holders who will probably never go near one.

So why would a seasoned shooter who doesn’t need to join a club want to join one?

Getting out and about

One of the main benefits of joining a club, particularly one that has strong state and national affiliations, is that members get invited to a lot of competitions at different ranges around the state – and country.

Around half the people who go to those competitions, go to win a prize. The regular winners are the annoying ones who can get ten after ten.

However the other half go for another reason.  

For many, going to competitions is simply a great way to enjoy a weekend away, in the same way as we like to fishing. That’s why pubs, hotels and motels do well out of shooters. 

Most of those shooters simply like catching up with people they know. Winning a medal is a bonus.

In fact most events involve multiple grades, so you don’t have to be an A grade shooter to come home with a memento.  

.. but this is only possible if you join a club in the first place.

Got kids? Then don’t let them down …

The second reason to join a club is that if you have kids or other family members, getting them involved will give them opportunities that they might not otherwise be able to have.

Kids who get involved in shooting are usually fast learners – and quickly find themselves winning competitions and even landing in teams representing their state our country. As shooters can generally keep going in to their 90s, joining a club is usually a life-long commitment.

Even if you aren’t interested in joining a club yourself, this is definitely something you should think about for your kid’s future.

More than half of the shooters who represent Australia started as juniors. 

Russell Mark (pictured), probably Australia’s best known Olympic shooter, became national champion at just 16.

WARNING: Don’t think that because you were shooting well before your kids came along, that you’ll always beat them.
That may be true when they start, but give them a few months and you’ll find out the hard way how quickly they can excel.

Also, don’t discount the fact that even if you are an experienced shooter, you might find out ways you can improve your shooting from others.

The experience

Joining a club can be a new, almost strange, experience even for those who have been shooting for some time. I, for example, joined a club after years of shooting my air rifle around our property as a kid. 

To then walk into a range with a lot of gun cases open and a lot of people walking around carrying firearms is something obvious to expect to see at a club, but it was still something I hadn’t experienced until then.  That’s when my appreciation of shooting and what it could offer changed for life.

Anyone who has been a member of a club will tell you shooting is the safest sport and most professional environment you will ever find yourself in.  That’s the first thing you’ll see when you go to a club.

.. but don’t think the journey ends there.

One thing you MUST do after you join, is tag along with other members to competitions at other ranges as soon as you can.

Make sure you go to one in your first six months, even if you need to borrow a club rifle, pistol or shotgun (if you can).

Don’t leave it for too long. You’ll not only probably get hooked on going to competitions – but find yourself buying your own firearm pretty quickly.

Where do you find them?

Obviously you can search on the internet for your nearest club, but you can also ask your local gun dealer.  Some names may already been known to you, such as the SSAAField & Game Australia, Australian Clay Target Association, Pistol Australia and Target Rifle Australia plus collecting organisations. However there are over 90 associations around Australia, covering everything imaginable, so you won’t be starved of options.

 While it is not necessarily complete, is a very useful tool to search for gun clubs in your area.

Search result from

All you need to do is put in your town and select a search radius.

For example, if you live in Broken Hill, a quick search will find a smallbore and big bore club just out of town. 

Some listings may not be complete, but it’s still a very good way to find your local club.

If you’d like to promote your club with us, drop us a line.  We’d be happy to assist where we can.

Can clubs get directly political?

Of course you can’t have a story on Politics Reloaded without a political angle to it – which is, should gun clubs be political?

After all, gun clubs are affected every bit as much as individual shooters by bad laws and bad policy.

In fact, it’s worse for clubs because of the approvals and reporting requirements that they have under various state and territory laws.

Every time a bad law comes into place, it affects the clubs and their members. So yes, clubs should be political.

.. but they probably can’t be …

However there are two reasons why many of the 2,000 or so clubs in Australia might not be able to.

The first is that people who run clubs are shooters who may not have political backgrounds or know how to handle politics the right way.

You can’t blame them: many of them are tradies, nurses, doctors or ambos who just wanted to help their clubs out after work – and politics may not be something they would handle well.

The second, and probably more significant reason, is that most clubs and associations have funding arrangements with government, or offer pathways to international competitions that are supported by our state, territory and federal governments.

For example, a large number of pistol, rifle and shotgun clubs are affiliated up to Shooting Australia which is affiliated with the Australian Sports Commission, Australian Olympic Committee, Australian Paralympic Committee and the Australian Commonwealth Games Association.

These are important links to have and maintain, which is why many of them probably couldn’t be political, even if they wanted to

It’s the same with many gun dealers: many of them may not get political for fear of being targeted by their local registries. We understand it’s not in common in WA for assistant commissioners to chat with dealers who speak up.

But that doesn’t prevent clubs or associations from taking action

While these issues might prevent some clubs and associations from being directly political, it doesn’t mean they can’t take indirect action.

An increasing number of clubs and associations are supporting other organisations who are doing the political work for them– like Politics Reloaded.

Backing the right political causes means clubs can support the political action they want without putting themselves at risk for very little cost.  At the very least, we’ll keep you up to date on the information you need to get – and do the things you need us to do.

Things every club can do

Clubs can do other things to protect what they do. These might not seem ‘political’, but they help get important messages – such as the benefits of the club and successes of junior or elderly members – out to the broader community. 

Every club will have a good story they can tell – so why not tell it?.

You should also engage with your local MP.  Invite them to the club and show them around. Importantly let them have a shoot and explain how safety is managed. 

Do not be afraid of them!  MPs always want to be seen on the right side of local community groups.

The other benefit with this is that MP then knows who to speak with if the issue of gun laws or policy comes up – and they can’t ignore you when you need to see them. 

Petro Georgiou

Former Kooyong MP who was relatively senior in federal politics, Petro Georgiou, went into bat for a local gun club that had an issue. 

In correspondence he sent to another minister, he referred to that club as  “my club”, even though he wasn’t a member.

Former SA Police Minister, Vincent Tarzia, at the East Marden Smallbore Rifle Club

The club was impressed that he made the approach that personal – and ended up winning the fight it was having.

Make sure you don’t invite your MP just the once: put it in your diary to invite them every year

Sure, they might not turn up that often, but they will never forget you’re there.

Being proactive with local newspapers is always a good idea, provided you control the message.

Why not put this on your club’s noticeboard? 

Got a good story tip for us? 
Click here to let us know



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