Shooters keen to alter impressions of their sporting passion
NOT many people know that Sue Bowen likes to shoot.
She says she only tells close friends of her hobby.
“Some people are scared of guns, they’ve never seen one,” she says.
On Monday nights she heads down to the Royal Tiger Range in Newtown, grabs a rifle and takes careful aim at a target 25 yards away.
She says the sport is fun and addictive, but she and others at the rifle range feel that many people have the wrong idea about it.
Neil Kinsey and his daughter are typical of the family groups who gather weekly for the Wellington Central Smallbore Rifle Club’s shooting night.
New Zealanders have misconceptions about their sport, says Mr Kinsey, the club’s patron.
The club has about 30 members, and he acknowledges shooting enthusiasts are sometimes frowned upon.
“If you don’t know anything about firearms you might think we’re about to do a bankjob,” he says.
The club members encourage people with negative views of shooting to visit the range and try it out themselves.
“It’s an equal opportunity sport,” says Mr Kinsey.
“You don’t need to be big. It doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female, young or old.”
Mr Kinsey shoots alongside his daughter and was introduced to the sport forty years ago by his father.
He is not alone in this respect, with several members of the Barclay family shooting regularly on Monday nights.
Angus Barclay says he enjoys the family atmopshere of target shooting and regularly heads to the range with his children.
“It’s not just a sport for middle aged men.”
Nevill Gluyas shot at the club for the first time on Monday, saying afterwards he enjoyed the evening and will come back again.
Mr Gluyas came on the encouragement of his daughter Julia, already a club regular.
The club places a great emphasis on responsible shooting.
Safety talks are compulsory for those visiting for the first time, and the evening is tightly organised.
With 16 targets and a double tiered shooting platform the range quickly becomes full on a busy night.
Mr Kinsey is proud of his club and its sport, and encourages people to look into its history.
“The Ballinger Belt shooting trophy is New Zealand’s oldest sporting title,” he says.
“We have some big events coming up soon. People should come round and get involved.”
There are four shooting clubs based in the Newtown building, and they compete with each other regularly.
Smallbore rifle shooting takes place all year round, with outdoor shooting in the summer and indoor during winter.
The clubs use.22 calibre target rifles, and guns equipped with magazines are not permitted.
Shooters take aim over open sights, and the use of a scope is considered cheating.
The club has an arsenal of target rifles secured on the premises, and heavy jackets are worn to help shooters steady their aim.
Thirteen bullets are supplied per session, with the first three used to get a feel for the rifle and the remaining ten fired at targets.
On the last Monday of every month there is a ’90 second shoot’ competition, and from April onwards a number of Grade Cups and Challenge Trophies will be competed for.