Are you thinking about giving target shooting a go? The good news is that there are literally hundreds of shooting clubs located around Australia, so there’s bound to be one or more near you.
So how do you get started? Read on….
Find a club
First, have a look at the websites of the major Australian shooting organisations (on my Links page), and locate a few clubs in your local area. I recommend ringing several and just having a chat with them before you attend a match. If the contact person for the club is not friendly and encouraging, I would consider looking elsewhere. There are a lot of clubs out there who are very keen to support women entering the sport, and their members will be quick to give you a hand with getting started. Some clubs are very social in nature, and others are more focused on competition, so if the culture of your nearest club doesn’t meet your needs, keep looking until you find one that does.
Take your time and visit a few clubs, until you find one that feels right. Ideally you will want to want to find a mentor – someone who is prepared to teach you all the basics, coach you and lend you a firearm to learn on until you’re ready to buy your own.
Learn the safety rules
Safety should be your number one priority at all times while handling firearms. Basic safety rules for target shooting as are follows:
- Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.
- Always point the firearm in a safe direction.
- Load a firearm only when ready to fire.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire.
- Follow all commands given by the Range Officer.
- Be sure of your target and what’s behind it.
- Avoid alcohol and other drugs prior to, and while handling firearms.
There are many other safety considerations in addition to these rules – your instructor will teach them to you when you start shooting.
Choose your discipline
Attend a few different matches, to get a sense of what kind of discipline might be right for you. The Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia offers the widest range of shooting disciplines. Have a look at their discipline page here.
It is highly recommended that you initially choose one discipline, and make it your focus, while you learn the basics of shooting. This is because each different discipline requires you to stand, move and handle the firearm in a different way. Many of the new skills you will learn as a novice shooter require you to use your body in new ways that will feel awkward and sometimes even counter-intuitive. It will take time to get used to this, until your body develops the necessary muscle memory. Therefore, you are much more likely to improve quickly if you focus on only one discipline.
I’ve profiled a few different disciplines here.
Understand the law
Firearm legislation differs slightly in each state. You will need to obtain a firearms licence in order to regularly participate in target shooting. In most cases you will need to undertake a firearm safety course before being granted a licence. This process can take several months before you are a licenced shooter. Your instructor at the club will provide you with information on how to begin this process.
Once you start purchasing ammunition and firearms for yourself, it is paramount that you understand the legal requirements of storage and transportation. It is your responsibility to understand and observe these laws – failure to do so can result in severe penalties.
Target shooting is all about having fun. While there are opportunities to compete at local, state, national and even international level in most disciplines, the reason why we shoot is because it’s enjoyable. So get out there and give it a shot!