'De-mystifying' guns was the aim of the game at the Goulburn Rifle Range for the annual Anzac Day Try Shooting Day on Sunday.
The event, hosted by the Goulburn and District Branch of the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (SSAA), seeks to educate the public about target shooting and encourage new members to join the club.
With some COVID-19 restrictions still in place, numbers were down on previous years but Range Captain Andrew Wood said the day was a success with a diverse turnout on hand.
"It was a really successful day and the try shooting days are universally successful," Wood said.
"Even though our numbers weren't as big as they have been in the past, what it enabled us to do was to spend a little bit more time with the people that did attend and they got more opportunites to shoot which was great.
"One of the other interesting things about the day was that half the visitors were women. Historically yes [it's male-dominated] but as far as 'try shooting' goes we commonly have almost a 50% turnout of women."
The branch, which has been in operation since 1997, is primarily focused on target shooting and regularly hosts similar events to introduce the public to a sport which is a relative unknown.
"Shooting is almost the safest sport you can do because it's so regulated," Wood said.
"You have someone at a rifle range always making sure that people are staying safe. So people come along and we make sure the 22. Caliber rifles they're trying out aren't confronting for them in terms of noise or recoil and we provide hearing protection for them.
"The day's free of course. It's a safe and enjoyable thing just to see what people can achieve by embracing something that's new."
With guns a divisive topic at the best of times, Wood said official clubs and organisations like the SSAA played an important role in education as well as providing an outlet for rural communities like Goulburn and surrounds.
"It's just about de-mystifying firearms and people understanding they're a tool like anything else and that the sport is quite fun," Wood explained.
"The rifle clubs around Australia are in many ways the equivalent of men's sheds and there are blokes who would come out of the range and absolutely talk my leg off! The social contact and that sense of camaraderie, many of them [members] have been shooting since they could walk, there are veterans and former police officers.
"These are some tremendously experienced and highly valued members of society and they're still finding a pastime which is safe and necessary no matter how much it might be valued by society at the moment."
With the event taking place on ANZAC Day there was a rendition of the ode and a minute of silence. That was made all the more powerful given the history of Goulburn Rifle Range and Australia's armed forces.
"We also have a long history of soldiers that came from these areas. They learned to shoot on their farms and clubs, they did national service and they shot on the Goulburn Rifle Range.
"Men have trained on there since World War I and on a nearby property they trained to shoot for the Beor War so it's a rifle range that's approaching 120 years old."
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