Last hurrah for Deni
On New Year’s Eve, Deniliquin Field & Game members were not only seeing out 2016, they were saying farewell to the shooting ground the branch was founded on.
Set amongst towering gums with stands following the natural course of creeks and backwaters, Deniliquin FGA has for many years enjoyed a challenging and unique place to shoot Simulated Field.
When they first arrived at the property in the early 1990s, the facilities were rudimentary, just a simple hut, but many of the first members thought that was just fine. “We had a bit of a lean-to, a few pipes and tarps we used to borrow from Rovers Football Club and we had about three shoots a year initially,” founding member Cliff Eagle said.
Their first major shoot, staged in 1992, used homemade and borrowed hand traps from Barham Field & Game; the local cadets marched in to throw the targets. “We put a 75 target day on, one trap three times, and we had 75 shooters,” Matt Maher said.
The idea to find a shooting ground and form a Field & Game branch was hatched over a beer in 1989.
Matt Maher and Brian Lehman approached Robert and Fiona Field from Warbreccan Station, who offered virtually unrestricted use of an area adjacent to the Wakool River. A meeting was called to gauge public support and the branch was soon up and running. Local businesses got behind the branch and a publican, butcher, fruiterer and sports storeowner all purchased new traps. “We reckoned we had the best spot
in Australia and we were successful; we could have 100 people camping here the night before a shoot,” Matt said. “The Golden Rivers shoot has been a big thing for us but we also started a Christmas shoot; that week blokes don’t have much to do and we had a crack, like trying the first target skimming off the water.”
Cliff said the ground also played an important role in training junior shooters. Local schools would use it every Wednesday for safety training and competition.
Not owning the land always left the branch vulnerable to change and the break up and sale of the host station brought on a move to a new ground, shared with the Australian Clay Target Association on Racecourse Rd.
They sent the old ground off with a bang: 100 targets and more than 100 shooters as well as many of the original members who returned just to reminisce and say farewell. “We used to spend one weekend here working and one weekend here shooting; that went on for 10 years to build the facilities — it was bloody hard work,” Matt said. “I think when we started we probably didn’t think we’d stay here as long. It is a bit sad but at least we can say we were here for the first shoot and the last.”
Images from the first Deniliquin FGA shoot