May 2011 President message
Don’t let the bullies get you down
Bullying is a terrible thing. Some of us might remember being teased as children for any number of things; wearing glasses, being a particular body shape or not being the first picked for a team. At the time, we may have been told to ‘get over it’ or that ‘it will make you a stronger person’. In some respects, this is true. The depth of the bullying and our ability to handle it is different for everyone and many of us learn to defend ourselves, mentally and verbally, or seek help in places where it can be achieved.
However, that doesn’t mean the bullying wasn’t hurtful, long-lasting or life-changing. Imagine if you were bullied for an activity you truly enjoyed or felt a part of. Do you give up on it? And what if the bullying comes from an authority figure that you placed your faith in? Where do you turn then?
Mick, a member from Western Australia, contacted us recently about the bullying his 12-year-old grandson had encountered at a prestigious college. The bullying, even more unfortunately, came not from a classroom bully or students in the playground as one might expect, but from his own teacher.
The young boy had taken a copy of Australian Shooter to school. The teacher confiscated it and told him that these ‘weapons of war’ had no place in society. Apparently, the shooting sports were ‘undesirable’ and not suitable for her students, regardless of parental consent and the child’s own obvious enthusiasm. She apparently then denigrated his interest and character and detailed to him the ‘evil that is firearms’. As Mick stated, teachers should be encouraging their students to develop their own sporting desires, grow their character and embrace the camaraderie of their chosen sport!
Mick has since contacted us again to say that both the teacher and senior staff have apologised to the boy and that his interests will be supported in the future. We do hope this will be the case.
Unfortunately, bullying and censorship is not restricted to children. We firearms owners, sporting shooters and recreational hunters often encounter it from the media and many of our politicians, who either don’t understand or don’t care to understand our chosen pastime. But it is up to us, as an Association and as individual members, to give them the real facts, let these groups know our recreations are legitimate and worthwhile, that we are proud of them and that we will encourage those who wish to join us.
Some shooters may be scared to tell people of what they do in fear of backlash and don’t want to ‘come out of the gun safe’, so to speak. I wear our logo often, on my car and my clothes, and you’d be surprised that when you feed people the true facts on our sport, you’ll often come away with a good experience.
In this edition of Australian Shooter, you will find the seventh issue of our special insert, The Junior Shooter. This issue features stories about and by a number of our junior members, including a warming story by 12-year-old Jayden Shaw from Queensland. I am sure that Jayden’s account about finding enjoyment, friendship and respect on the shooting range will resonate with many readers. Remember too to pass on your copy to your kids, grandkids or any other interested juniors. They are, after all, the future of our sport.
If you haven’t received a copy of The Junior Shooter or would like to read previous issues, contact the Media & Publications office on 08 8272 7100 or visit www.australianshooter.com.au
SSAA National President