All too often, the mainstream media and certain politicians focus on the negatives surrounding our sport by linking our sporting tools to terrorism fears or criminals who use illegal firearms for malicious purposes. The SSAA accepts that there should be sensible regulation of firearms; however, firearms are a necessary tool for our sport, recreation and hunting. Our members treat firearms with respect and adhere to some basic principles, such as treating the firearm as if it is always loaded, never pointing it at a person, and ensuring it is unloaded when not in use, to keep the shooting sports safe.
Sometimes, we get caught up in the negativity and forget the positive things happening in our sport and across the Association. We still have a lot to be proud of, with many exciting new developments and ongoing projects recently coming to fruition. In my home state of Queensland, we have just finished planting 113,000 trees for a koala sanctuary on our Stewartdale property. Our story details this impressive conservation project, with SSAA Queensland just announcing plans to also build a world-class pistol range on the property.
An exciting range update out of SSAA Victoria is the resigning of the lease on the Springvale range, securing the property for our members for many more years. SSAA Victoria is also part of a successful trial program removing hog deer from national parks, while in Tasmania, our Farmer Assist program has just been launched, taking the program to operational status in four states now.
Across all states and territories our members have been embracing the SSAA Gold Membership insurance option, with the take-up rate of this fantastic member benefit increasing each month. Gold Membership also proved a popular discussion point at the recent SSAA SHOT Expo in Brisbane, which has been hailed as a resounding success by attendees and exhibitors alike. Read all the highlights from the inaugural Brisbane event - an event that was made possible by our dedicated volunteers.
SSAA National is currently working towards another important event, which will see a historical conservation and wildlife symposium hosted in Australia next year. The likes of the planned symposium has not been seen in Australia for 20 years and it is expected to attract international delegates.
The SSAA also continues to work towards increasing junior participation in the shooting sports. Juniors are the lifeline of our sport, with some of our junior members’ achievements and contributions detailed in the 16th issue of The Junior Shooter included as an insert to this month’s magazine and also available online. I encourage members to get involved in our ‘Sign up a Junior’ campaign and leave a legacy through your child, grandchild, niece or nephew, as without juniors, the future of our sport will be bleak.
Back to politics, I have just returned from a World Forum on Shooting Activities (WFSA) meeting in Sweden, where SSAA International Delegate Bob Green and I met with our European, American and Canadian counterpart to exchange ideas and strategies. It was pleasing to see our New Zealand counterparts from the Council of Licensed Firearm Owners (COLFO) be made a full member of the WFSA. COLFO is set to host the next meeting in September 2016, coinciding with our international symposium.
On the home front, we have just put forward a preliminary submission regarding the National Firearms Agreement. As always, we will continue to bring you the latest information regarding this and other updates on our website and other communication mediums.