The feel-good factor is alive and well in relation to the shooting sports in Australia. While we enjoyed reasonable success at the recent Commonwealth Games, it is now time for an overdue review of sports funding in general. On top of this, the growing number of women shooters on the scene has been heralded.
First to the issue of sports funding. When the ‘Winning Edge’ concept was introduced it immediately sparked a revival in Australia’s sporting fortunes on the world stage, after the disheartening nadir of the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
While the SSAA receives no funding from the Government in terms of sporting objectives, we regard ourselves as providing the grass roots environment and being a nursery for the shooting sports and recreational hunting.
The Winning Edge innovation catapulted Australia’s sporting stock and made other nations sit up and take note. Our rivals duly copied the system which has since been overtaken by many of them, leaving Australia to wonder where it all went wrong. It’s encouraging that Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie, a noted friend of the shooting sports, is shortly expected to release the new national sports plan attempting to instigate another turnaround in fortunes and redress funding flaws.
It was refreshing to tune into a recent SBS feature on its Viceland channel highlighting the exploits of various women shooters which again showed our sport in a positive light.
As part of The Feed, the segment was entitled Guns & Roses – the women of competitive shooting. It took us to an indoor range where SSAA (NSW) had organised a ladies-only shoot. The program alerted us to the fact that since 2014, the number of women joining shooting associations has increased substantially.
It was fascinating to listen to the views of such diverse competitors as Inga, a mum with two young girls, along with 15-year-old Miranda who had started going to the range with her dad. The general consensus was the sport felt “empowering” when shooting together with so many women from different ages, backgrounds and locations.
It was also pointed out that while the popular perception is one of male domination, the shooting sports hold just as much appeal for women and people of all ages. In the case of teenager Miranda, she had gained her firearms permit before her driver’s licence and thought that cars were pretty dangerous. A telling observation.
Women are seen as an important sector within the shooting fraternity and we at the SSAA want to encourage their growth and influence. It’s all about gender awareness, equality and the role that women can play. The number of women in the Association’s ranks is also on the rise and this is both heartening and encouraging. To this end the SSAA is now looking at launching a new regular inclusion in the Australian Shooter specifically dedicated to women shooters.
And in more good news, membership of the SSAA is steadily marching towards the 200,000 mark. This highlights the importance of having strength in numbers and is an immensely satisfying trend. Long may it continue.