The friendly mob

Goul­burn Work­ers Field & Game mem­bers are good trav­ellers and fre­quent vis­i­tors to branch shoots across Vic­to­ria, and the en­gage­ment has paid off as part of a strat­egy to build mem­ber­ship and par­tic­i­pa­tion.

Field and Game - - GOULBURN WORKERS -

In 1833 a 12-block street plan was laid out for the es­tab­lish­ment of Aus­tralia’s first in­land city.

The Goul­burn Gaol fol­lowed in 1845 and still op­er­ates to­day. Goul­burn’s grand ar­chi­tec­ture was helped by the strong (and com­pet­i­tive) presence of the Ro­man Catholic and Angli­can churches and the riches from thriv­ing wheat and wool in­dus­tries, which is why the city boasts the Big Merino.

Vis­i­tors can walk the city and dis­cover its his­tory through well-pre­served build­ings in­clud­ing the Paragon Café, an old-style diner op­er­at­ing since the 1940s.

An easy 25-minute drive from Goul­burn, near the end of Mid­dle Arm Rd is the Goul­burn Work­ers’ shoot ground. It’s set in a val­ley, which pro­tects it from the wind (freez­ing in the mid­dle of win­ter) and of­fers un­du­lat­ing ter­rain to set chal­leng­ing and in­ter­est­ing tar­gets.

The week­end we visit is the an­nual Fox Shoot, an open hand­i­cap event that is one of the big­gest on the Goul­burn Work­ers’ cal­en­dar.

Pres­i­dent Tom Shin­field and ground set­ter War­ren Thorpe can’t re­call how the fix shoot started, but the tro­phy (re-cast af­ter the orig­i­nal was dropped by an early win­ner) is highly sought af­ter. “It is one of our most pop­u­lar shoots be­cause ev­ery­one has a chance to win the tro­phy,” Tom, who set the tar­gets, said.

“It is prob­a­bly a fairly stiff course but once you run the hand­i­caps it usu­ally comes down to one or two tar­gets.”

War­ren had a great day in­di­vid­u­ally, tak­ing out the High Gun (88 OTG) but the

Fox Tro­phy went to hand­i­cap win­ner Steve Mcclel­land 96 (60 OTG).

Goul­burn Work­ers has 138 mem­bers and is con­tin­u­ing to grow. “The branch in the past four years has gone ahead in leaps and bounds, with fresh new com­mit­tee mem­bers and new mem­bers; ev­ery­one has been chip­ping in, and we are very proud of where we are right now,” Tom said. “We aver­age 70 to 80 com­peti­tors at our reg­u­lar shoots (first Sunday of each month) and our am­bi­tion is to get enough traps to run two grounds, so the peo­ple that travel, and we get a quite a few, can get out quicker and head off ear­lier. “Over the last two years we have signed up two new mem­bers per shoot and we keep grow­ing.”

Vis­i­tors are catered for with on-site camp­ing, great food from the can­teen and a friendly en­vi­ron­ment. “We get a lot of peo­ple who go to the ef­fort to travel to our shoots. Around Christ­mas time we get a lot of com­peti­tors trav­el­ling through, even from the North­ern Ter­ri­tory, but we pub­li­cise our events well,” War­ren said.

“We of­fer camp­ing fa­cil­i­ties overnight for any­one want­ing to come down; we have power and shower fa­cil­i­ties, so peo­ple can stay and freshen up and don’t have to travel af­ter a long day shoot­ing.”

In be­tween monthly events, the Goul­burn Work­ers are renowned for trav­el­ling, and apart from the Na­tional Car­ni­val, their fa­mil­iar blue and yel­low shoot­ing vests could be spot­ted at Bairns­dale, Wy­che­p­roof and the three-day Golden Rivers Clas­sic.

As one mem­ber noted, if you don’t

go to other branches no­body knows you ex­ist and when you do travel, it al­ways re­sults in new vis­i­tors to Goul­burn. Tom said nom­i­na­tions and pub­lic­ity of­fi­cer Angie Thorpe had played a big part in the growth of the club and its monthly com­pe­ti­tions. “The way Angie has pro­moted the branch has been re­ally im­por­tant,” he said. The ground for the Fox Tro­phy shoot is a straight out and back course, us­ing the lower gully on the way out and the slop­ing hill­side on the way back. While the day started be­low zero and with a thin coat of ice cov­er­ing ev­ery­thing, the sky above is bright blue for the first squads and with lit­tle wind to speak of, quite pleas­ant for mid-win­ter. “We are lucky to have the ground we have, we have 400 acres we can ac­tu­ally shoot on and with the gullys, hills and scrubby knobs there’s a va­ri­ety of tar­gets,” War­ren said. “We are pro­tected in the val­ley, but if it is go­ing to be blow­ing up the val­ley we can set lower tar­gets and still have a good shoot. In the sum­mer when it is hot, we set the course through the trees where there is more shade.”

Join­ing the com­pe­ti­tion are Field & Game Aus­tralia (FGA) CEO Richard Light and de­vel­op­ment man­ager Daryl Snow­don, who also at­tended a post shoot com­mit­tee meet­ing and ran through the new com­put­erised scor­ing sys­tem.

For the record, Richard and Daryl fin­ished tied. “It was great to have the FGA crew here, it is good for them to learn a bit about our branch and the way we op­er­ate, and be­cause Richard and Daryl see so many other branches it is good to get feed­back and ideas from them that we can take on board,” Tom said.

War­ren Thorpe and Tom Shin­field with the fox tro­phy

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