Students aiming to learn
About 100 students participated in the Northwest School Shoot hosted by Bar-rook Field & Game Australia on the Monday after the opening weekend of Duck Season.
The Field & Game Australia schools' competition continues a tradition that started back in the 1950s when Charles Whitla saw a need to educate Wangaratta Technical School students about firearm safety and the correct technique for firing a shotgun.
When Mr Whitla later moved to Benalla he started a similar program and challenged Wangaratta to a simulated field shoot.
In the years since, the competition has grown and more than 7000 students have competed in the clay-target events run by Field & Game branches.
The Bar-rook ground is in New South Wales near Barham but is also serves members from Koondrook on the Victorian side of the Murray River.
Shane Storm, the target co-ordinator at Bar-rook was pleased with the distances some schools had travelled to participate. “We have two schools from Geelong and one from Ballarat, which is pretty good,” he said.
Three mates from Swan Hill also competed on the day.
Lachie Dunn, who walks using crutches and shoots from a chair, is the leader of the pack. “I've always been shooting,” he said. “Swan Hill Field & Game is on our farm; it's just good fun and not much pressure.”
The Swan Hill College student had friend Hamish Robertson along for the first time. Hamish attends a different school, St Mary Mackillop College, but they share a school bus and an interest in shooting sports. “It's good to do, good fun,” Hamish said. “We live on a farm and we go shooting when we can. I enjoy shooting but this is the first time I've been to a clay target shoot with school.”
The only hitch was that Lachie and Hamish ended up in different squads so the experienced hand wasn't there to lead the way. “I encourage Hamish a fair bit; it is good to be involved in the sport and it teaches responsibility,” Lachie said.
The third member of the trio, Lachie >>
>> Hilton, said he first used a shotgun under supervision when he was eight years old. “Some of the school shoots are fairly competitive but you get to come out with your mates for a shot and you also learn about safety,” he said.
Lachie Dunn said that even at school level, the sport has a perception problem among the uninitiated. “People shouldn't look down on it because it involves guns,” he said
“I reckon there is more skill involved in shooting than a lot of sports.”
Shane Storm said FGA school shoots encouraged juniors into the sport of Australian Simulate Field but in an environment where they were taught the right way. “We teach the right gun handling, the safety aspects, and how to shoot the different targets better as they progress through the sport,” he said.
“It is a very clean, healthy sport and safe, while the people you meet in the sport are great.”
Lachie Hilton finished third in the senior boys (non-member)