Despite a lifetime of involvement in the shooting sports, Clifford Austen was shocked to discover he’d received a medal of the Order of Australia. In fact Clifford assumed an email informing him of the appointment was a hoax.
“I almost didn’t reply to the email but my wife convinced me to,” he said. “I then received the official notification of the OAM about a month before Australia Day.”
The SSAA member and Nowra Rifle Club president received his OAM for services to the sport of shooting. Among many accomplishments, Clifford has been president of the New South Wales Match Rifle and Long Range F Class Association since 2015 and is a former councillor with the New South Wales Rifle Association.
At almost 71 years of age, his willingness to do a host of thankless tasks over the years has brought the shooting sports innumerable benefits. “I’ve always done whatever I could to promote the sport and make it the best it can be,” said Clifford. “I’ve been more than happy to fill the various roles though my wife is still wondering when I’ll get a paid position!”
Clifford has seen the sport from every angle, whether shooting small bore Benchrest in the morning, F Class in the afternoon, building ranges and facilities or representing shooters on legal committees, he’s just about done it all. But perhaps what he’s best known as is president of Nowra Rifle Club.
When he arrived it had only a dozen members but that number has steadily grown over the years to around 450 today. Clifford also oversaw the club’s transformation from shooting just one discipline to more than 20 which now span rifles, shotguns and pistols. He was also a major player in building the club’s 800m range.
“There were no toilets or facilities when I joined at Nowra but gradually we put them in to make the club more welcoming to women shooters and families,” he said.
Clifford still enjoys shooting as much as ever and aims for a decent score each time he heads to the range. “Shooting is like any other sport and even at my age I still get a buzz out of it,” he said.
Clifford Austen: Roll of honour
• Nowra Rifle Club president since 1994 and former secretary
• President, New South Wales Shooting Association since 2008
• President, New South Wales Match Rifle and Long Range F Class Association since 2015
• Secretary and public officer, Illawarra and Districts Rifle Clubs Association 2000-2018
• Former councillor, Council of the New South Wales Rifle Association
• Former Shoalhaven branch official, Sporting Shooters Association of NSW
• Former committee member, Shoalhaven City Council Nowra Rifle Club
• Life membership, Nowra Rifle Club 1999
• Order of Australia Medal, 2019