Press Gallery visits range to try shooting - Combating stereotypes with the fourth estate

In a valiant attempt to educate journalists about the sport of shooting and give the media the opportunity to experience something they report on but don’t necessarily understand, the Parliamentary Friends of Shooting group recently hosted a clay target shooting event. Hosted by the group’s co-chair, Victorian Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie, the event saw interested members of the Canberra Press Gallery take aim at clay targets, instead of taking aim at the sport, on a cloudy October day.

Media representatives swapped their pens and cameras for supervised training with a shotgun followed by a barbecue lunch, where Senator McKenzie seized the opportunity to present the facts on the significant benefits of the firearms industry. “The Parliamentary Friends of Shooting aims to raise awareness among parliamentarians about sporting and recreational shooting and its $1 billion contribution to the national economy, not including the many social and environmental benefits,” she said. “The triple bottom line benefit is around $440 million in my home state of Victoria alone.

“Yet the industry, comprising of around 800,000 licensed owners, is often demonised in the media by misinformed commentators. We know our licensed firearms owners are seldom responsible for any of the horrible gun crimes such as the Martin Place Siege and through the Parliamentary Friends of Shooting we intend to help change these negative perceptions...Shooting is a wonderful activity that I have proudly participated in for many years and I want to see it get the credit it deserves.”

Western Australia Liberal MP and group member Ian Goodenough also attended the event. He reinforced the objective of the group in actively promoting shooting as a legitimate and respectable activity among our nation’s decision makers and media commentators. “As they arrived, the press were upbeat with the expectation that shotgun shooting was tough and going to blow them away,” he said. “They soon discovered that shooting involves skill, discipline, and concentration rather than physical strength. During the shoot I had the opportunity to speak with journalists and camera operators, many of whom had never experienced shooting or even used a firearm before. Overall, everyone enjoyed themselves and the press gallery went away with a more informed perspective on shooting.”

Participants also had the opportunity to meet Olympic Gold medallist and SSAA life member Suzy Balogh, who won the women’s Trap event in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, gaining first-hand insight into the competitive world of sports shooting.

The SSAA attended the launch of the group in March, with the group - also co-chaired by Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon - set to continue to organise future positive events promoting the sport of shooting and the firearms industry overall.

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