Exhibiting at the SSAA SHOT Expo in Melbourne in May has paid off for the Little River Raiders Single Action Shooting Club. The club, which operates at Eagle Park Range, had 55 new shooters at its annual come and try day on Sunday, August 30 - an increase of up to 45 people on previous years.
Club captain Bob Cooper said the influx of new shooters came down to a two-day exhibit the club held at the SHOT Expo on the weekend of May 23 and 24. “We set up a stall with at least four members in costume at all times,” he said. “We got approval to wear handguns - we had to remove the cylinder and used cable ties to secure them. We also mounted nine rifles and shotguns to the wall so people could see them; we had television running the whole time showing what goes on at Little River Raiders and we handed out brochures to people.”
Attracting attention was easy for the Little River Raiders, who dress is full Western attire for their monthly shoots and competitions. Walking around the Expo in costume, handing out brochures and encouraging people at the stall to leave their contact details, left the club with a list of 75 people interested in attending the come and try day. After the Expo, the club members sent text messages to everyone on the list and emails with details about the come and try day. Normally, 10 or 12 people come to the annual event, so the club was surprised to see 55 people registering on the day.
The Single Action Shooting discipline was formed in 1981 by Roy Bean, who enjoyed watching Western movies but wanted to make his own fun using period firearms, costumes and scenarios. “Basically we are a living history or re-enactment group and this is important as the firearms we use - in particular above .38-calibre handguns - are approved because of who we are,” said SSAA Victoria President and Little River Raiders member Denis Moroney. “Aliases and costumes are part and parcel of the culture of Single Action.”
During the come and try day, visitors were invited to don their best Western attire, watch demonstrations of the various categories of Single Action competition, learn about the safety aspects of shooting and have a go with a revolver, rifle and shotgun. “It’s all about having fun but being safe at the same time,” said Denis.
After the event, the club received some very positive feedback from happy attendee Rob Burton. “Just a quick email to express my thanks for today,” he wrote. “I can honestly say I have never enjoyed a day shooting more. Today was my first time with single-actions and lever-actions other than .22 and I'm pretty much hooked! But it was more than just the shooting; how friendly and welcoming and enthusiastic you all were, really made the day even more enjoyable.”
The fun of the day has inspired some 12 to 15 people to become Single Action shooters, many of whom will go to Eagle Park, while some will go to Fort Bridger and others to Oakleigh.