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.
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