En­gag­ing vet­er­ans in shot­gun sports

Gee­long Field & Game has in­tro­duced younger mil­i­tary vet­er­ans to clay tar­get shoot­ing with im­me­di­ate suc­cess.

Field and Game - - FGA BRANCH NEWS -

Many younger vet­er­ans don’t slip eas­ily into the older net­works of World War II and Viet­nam vet­er­ans but they still want to meet up with con­tem­po­raries in a re­laxed, so­cial en­vi­ron­ment.

For many, RSL Con­nect is the bridge be­tween new vet­er­ans and the broader RSL net­work. It pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity to build re­la­tion­ships while at the same time open­ing the door for the RSL to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion and sup­port.

RSL Con­nect is open to vet­er­ans from 1975 (post-viet­nam) to cur­rent day, and gath­er­ings pre­dom­i­nantly in­volve fun, so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties. “We are all post-1975 so it is gen­er­ally the younger co­hort of vet­er­ans,” Gee­long RSL pres­i­dent An­drew Hanns said. “As a day out, I think this is one of the best things for us; we all used to shoot in the ser­vices, but some of us haven’t shot for 18 or 20 years. “Rock­ing up, some might have been a lit­tle ner­vous but it is some­thing we have all done in the past. Once they hit a few tar­gets it be­came all about the fun; it is a re­ally re­lax­ing thing to do.”

Dar­ren Stendt, a com­mit­tee mem­ber of Gee­long Field & Game and RSL Con­nect, brought the or­gan­i­sa­tions to­gether. “I’ve got in­volved with the RSL Con­nect pro­gram, do­ing a few sport­ing and so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties like archery, climb­ing and surf­ing,” he said. “As a mem­ber of both com­mit­tees, I of­fered clay tar­get shoot­ing as a sport­ing ac­tiv­ity. The en­vi­ron­ment is re­laxed and there’s an el­e­ment of team­work be­cause we want ev­ery­one to hit one, so it is a sup­port­ive en­vi­ron­ment.”

The day at­tracted vet­er­ans from Gee­long and Bendigo but also Mel­bourne and Gipp­s­land.

Dar­ren said a num­ber of Field & Game branches had ex­pressed in­ter­est in host­ing vet­er­ans. “Hope­fully they can reach out, it would be good for both or­gan­i­sa­tions,” he said.

Gee­long RSL se­nior vice pres­i­dent Glenn Agnew at­tended with his wife Denise. “Although she hasn’t hit any­thing yet, she has a grin like a Cheshire cat,” he said. “I prob­a­bly haven’t shot for 25 years but it is amaz­ing how it comes back; ei­ther I got some lucky shots off at the end or my eye’s back in.”

Glenn said the event met all the crit­i­cal cri­te­ria for RSL Con­nect: en­gag­ing, so­cial and out in the broader com­mu­nity. “We should do this once a year; Gee­long Field & Game has been just sen­sa­tional, and it is re­ally ap­pre­ci­ated by the vet­er­ans,” he said.

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