New SSAA ACT shotgun range opens its doors

The SSAA Majura Park Gun Club finally opened the doors to its lavish clay target shooting range with an official inauguration ceremony on September 7.

A host of guests and dignitaries were on hand as the range, originally scheduled to open in February, was off and running. Those who attended were treated to a tour of the facilities and looked on as shooting demonstrations got underway. Guest speakers included Chief Minister of the ACT Andrew Barr and one of Australia’s most decorated competitive shooters and Australian Shooter columnist Russell Mark. Also in attendance representing the SSAA was SSAA National Secretary and former SSAA ACT President Kaye McIntyre.

The stunning project came to fruition thanks to a financial base set up by a $62,500 grant from the ACT Government and $40,000 from SSAA ACT. It will be able to cater for Olympic and Universal Trench, Double Trap and Ball Trap shooting disciplines.

Among the shooters testing out the new setting was 16-year-old Canberra Trap shooter Tanya Skinner. Tanya was featured in the Youth in Focus column of the July Australian Shooter after she became the Australian National Women’s Double-Barrel Champion. Since then, she has won the Olympic Trap event at the NSW International Sports Shooting Federation titles in Newcastle. Tanya has been able to practise at the range and has swiftly given it her nod of approval. “It has definitely helped and I’ve seen the improvements already,” she told the Canberra Times for a recent news article.

The original February opening for the range came and went, as for one reason or another the date had to keep being put back. SSAA Canberra Senior Vice President Joe Thaller, who also serves as SSAA Majura Park Gun Club President, was pleased that the wait was over at last. “It has just been a question of finding a day when we could get all the people involved together,” he said. “There have been a few delays along the way, but we were just glad that it is off and running.”

Joe told how the special guests were impressed with the facilities. “Russell Mark was one of the speakers and he stressed what a world-class facility it is…There were shooting demonstrations by Tanya [Skinner], as well as Paul Jenkins, who is a disabled shooter, and a 71-year-old shooter.

“Andrew Barr came along and showed a genuine interest. We thought he may have been a bit scared with all the noise from the firearms. But he wasn’t. He just strode up by the shooters to watch what was going on.”

Now that the formalities are over, Joe believes the range can go from strength to strength as a training facility. “A lot of people have shown interest and there have been kids from interstate who have already been along,” he said.

ISSF representative Dan Power is another who played a big role in assisting with the upgrades to the range. He says that the club has already had a taste of things to come. “Obviously this was our official opening but before this we had a ‘soft’ opening in January which involved inviting a few shooters along,” he said. “It was a warm-up event and we had 59 shooters on the single range.

“One of those was Alessandro Chianese, who is a member of the Italian Olympic Double Trap team. He was so impressed that we asked him if he would like to come back to do a coaching clinic. And sure enough in February, he did. I believe he is going to be marrying a girl from Melbourne, so who knows, he might become a regular visitor if he comes to live out here.”

Dan says that now the range is fully operational it will be able to host national training camps, as well as accommodate extensive single-shot competitions. He is satisfied the future is bright, and was happy to leave the last word with the thoughts of Russell Mark.

“The club was pretty pleased to have Russell Mark along for the opening,” said Dan. “It was great PR. But when he said we had one of the best ranges in the world, it meant so much.”

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