River­land room to grow

The Ren­mark Berri branch is the new­est mem­ber of the Field & Game Aus­tralia fam­ily. The mem­bers are blessed with some re­mark­able wet­lands in the South Aus­tralia’s River­land re­gion and free­hold over a shoot­ing ground that is big enough to turn into a model

Field and Game - - RENMARK BERRI -

Un­der the watch­ful eye of branch mem­bers Dave Austin and Paul Hansen a cou­ple of young lads grap­ple with the un­fa­mil­iar form of a shot­gun, grip­ping it to shoot right-handed while their feet set up for ex­actly the op­po­site.

Dave and Paul are pa­tient and spend a few min­utes mak­ing sure their novice tar­get shoot­ers feel com­fort­able.

Boom, boom … Kale Pearce and Ai­den Richard­son, both aged 13, have now added fir­ing a shot­gun to their list of life achieve­ments.

Kale was so keen he wasn’t go­ing to let a mend­ing bro­ken arm stop him par­tic­i­pat­ing in Ren­mark Berri FGA’S come­and-try day. The sling was dis­carded on the range and put back in place when the shoot­ing was done. “It was a lot of fun and I’m glad I man­aged to hit one or two tar­gets,” he said after his first round.

Kale’s mum Danielle Reed shot along­side him. “I’ve shot on our prop­erty be­fore but I hadn’t held a gun for 18 years be­fore to­day,” she said. “I saw the event on Face­book and thought we should come out and have a go; Kale al­ready wants to have an­other go.”

Ai­den’s grand­mother Mary Richard­son did pis­tol train­ing back in the days when bank staff has ac­cess to firearms be­hind the counter and she took to clay tar­get shoot­ing like a natural.

She came to the event pri­mar­ily to give her grand­son a real-world ex­pe­ri­ence of firearms. “They are re­ally in­ter­ested in com­puter games that in­volve shoot­ing and I thought it would be good to bring him here in a safe en­vi­ron­ment and ex­pe­ri­ence what it is like to fire a real gun,” she said.

Ai­den en­joyed the ex­pe­ri­ence and with a lit­tle prac­tice and ex­pert coach­ing he man­aged to hit a tar­get.

“It is pretty good but I liked the shots with the smaller shot­gun, the adult one scared me a bit,” he said.

The come-and try-day in­tro­duced 30 peo­ple to the sport of clay tar­get shoot­ing and gen­er­ated pub­lic­ity lo­cally. The shoot ground is off the main high­way be­tween Ren­mark and Berri but from the road, it is in­vis­i­ble.

The come-and-try day wasn’t just about de­mys­ti­fy­ing firearms and at­tract­ing po­ten­tial new mem­bers, it was also an op­por­tu­nity to be more vis­i­ble in the com­mu­nity.

Mur­ray Pi­o­neer jour­nal­ist Joe Sch­wab en­hanced that cause by par­tic­i­pat­ing in the day and then writ­ing about his ex­pe­ri­ence.

“All I can say is next time the club, or any of the other clubs in the River­land, put on a sim­i­lar day, it is worth go­ing along and giv­ing it a shot,” he told read­ers.

Peter Teakle, 77, has been around Field & Game more years than he cares

to count and he’s spent the past 30 years in the River­land con­tribut­ing to bet­ter habi­tat and species out­comes, es­pe­cially through work on the Mur­ray-dar­ling Basin Au­thor­ity’s na­tive fish strat­egy.

“I have a very close affin­ity with na­tive fish, lean­ing against ev­ery gun cup­board is a fishing rod, the two are in­trin­si­cally linked,” Peter said.

The River­land Ram­sar site cov­ers more than 30 000 hectares from Ren­mark to the Vic­to­rian and NSW bor­ders. It in­cludes the 6700 ha Pike Flood­plain be­tween Paringa and Lyrup.

Ren­mark Berri is also within easy reach of the Chow­illa flood­plain, which con­tains the largest re­main­ing natural river red gum for­est in the Lower Mur­ray and Woolenook, a for­mer in­tern­ment camp with ac­cess to Mur­ray River flood­plains.

The Ren­mark Berri crew have a big back yard and a main prop­erty to match. The shoot ground cov­ers nearly 300 ha and cur­rently only a frac­tion of that space is utilised. “It was en­vis­aged at the time of pur­chase as a multi-dis­ci­pline shoot­ing com­plex,” Peter said. “It could be a great out­door ed­u­ca­tion cen­tre as well, with our ac­cess to wet­lands.”

There’s enough dirt to ac­com­mo­date grounds for a na­tional event and space to de­velop skeet, down the line and a 300 m ri­fle range.

Dave Austin said driv­ing mem­ber­ship would add im­pe­tus to fully de­velop the fa­cil­ity as multi-dis­ci­pline precinct for train­ing, com­pe­ti­tion and ed­u­ca­tion. “We had our safety check only last week and we have sup­port for a 300 m ri­fle range,” he said. “We have gone forward in a big way with join­ing Field & Game Aus­tralia and with help, we can keep grow­ing and im­prov­ing our fa­cil­ity,” he said,

Bai­ley Car­son, 11, takes a shot at the come and try day

Dave Austin helps Kale Pearce, 13, get to grips with a shot­gun Dave Austin and Paul Hansen nav­i­gate the Mur­ray River

The view from the prop­erty bound­ary look­ing back to­wards the club­house in the dis­tance

Danielle Reed

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