The Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (Victoria) was incorporated as a public company on October 1, 1973. We exist to promote the shooting sports and protect firearm owners' interests.
With more than 36,000 members, SSAA Victoria is a leading body representing licensed firearm owners in Victoria. SSAA Victoria has more than a dozen branches and more than 30 sub-clubs and disciplines within the organisation.
I missed the first few times I shot at clay targets, mostly because I was totally new to it and did a bunch of things wrong.
Thanks to some help from experienced shooters, I finally smashed one, then a few in a row. I got hooked and would have shot all day if not for the fact the ill-fitting and hard old shottie from the Eagle Park Range bunker was slowly tenderising my shoulder.
That shoot was earlier this year with the Gamebird Hunting Essentials Masterclass (the former Shotgunning Education Program) where I learned the characteristics of different ammunition and chokes.
It was a fantastic grounding in understanding the skill level you need to competently shoot for ducks (they’re safe from me this season).
The next experience I had was all about having fun.
If you’ve had a look at the latest Victorian Shooter, you might have read Shepparton Shotgun Club member Marion Barnes’ tips on buying a shotgun.
It was while putting that story together that she encouraged me to get up there and have a crack during their Tower Shoot and practice day.
The idea of simulating field shooting and testing my skill against moving targets got me interested, so I made the two-hour trip up the Goulburn Valley Highway to SSAA Shepparton Branch’s range.
It’s a large complex with several areas set aside for shotguns including two five-stands and the tower.
Young shooter Tom Bilney was good enough to loan me his gorgeous (and bloody expensive) Perazzi MX10. He has a bunch of junior achievements under his belt including Juniors High Gun at the recent Victorian 5-Stand titles and will be shooting with the Victorian team at the nationals.
He was more than happy to introduce me to the sport he loves, and his patience and good humour made getting chucked in at the deep end for the Tower Shoot competition a lot more fun than it could have been.
The set-up is five bays along the firing line positioned beneath a trap mounted up in a tower about 6m tall.
The clays come out from overhead in any of three general directions, so the art is to quickly pick up the target and shoot as you draw the barrel down.
Each of the five bays gives you a slightly different angle to shoot from and during the competition shooters rotate through the bays.
I barely had time to buy a couple of boxes of ammo (7.5s, 28g at 1300f/s as recommended) before I was lining up against shooters in Marion, Rocky Furci, Barry Bloodwell and Rod Wild who sponsored the Tower Shoot we were competing in.
With not even a practice shot I was away, hitting the first clay with the second barrel and then the next with the first.
Thinking it was easy (and I was told it was among the easiest of the competitions), I missed the next dozen in a row and for the life of me couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong, despite Tom’s expert guidance and lots of encouragement from the others.
Rod and Rocky were making it look easy, calmly striping the barrel down the target line and picking off their clays early.
I was trying to wait for the right moment, getting ahead of the target and tensing up. All the things you don’t do and finished with a six from 35.
Mercifully, I was allowed to get to the practice range where I enjoyed a lot more success at the simpler throws.
I also had the opportunity to shoot with a beautiful Miroku Mk10 Sport Deluxe loaned to me by Marion’s husband Ron.
Both the Miroku and the Perazzi made such a difference to the experience and I could have shot 10 or more boxes of shells after the five I nearly got through for the day. The challenge of each shot and the great satisfaction when you middle one and the clay explodes into fragments are very addictive.
Back at the tower for a second round, I managed to double my score for a total of 18 from 70. It was a long way behind Rod who won the day with a 67 after a shoot-off against club secretary Tony Connell who shot in the second group.
The biggest thing was that it was a whole heap of fun. Club president Geoff Morton was very welcoming, and everyone was keen to help a struggling novice improve.
I’m ultra keen to give it another crack and bring along my fiancé who I reckon would get just as much out of it as I did. This is a sport that anyone can try and is a truly level playing field for men and women of all ages.
Convincing her I need to buy a Perazzi is a whole other conversation.
The great duck hunting protest on Lake Cullen at duck season opening on Saturday turned into high farce with hunters staying away from the lake in droves.
After being alerted to the protester plans, hunters instead chose many of the other State Game Reserves open to them or private property to take their bags.
That meant protesters outnumbered hunters at Lake Cullen and the media stunt planned through the Coalition Against Duck Shooting (CADS) and its new poster boy Andy Meddick MP from the Animal Justice Party was little more than a sideshow.
“There was the usual nonsense including protesters creating dangerous situations by canoeing into firing zones,” said SSAA Victoria Hunting Development Manager David Laird who was at the lake.
“But the hunters who were there didn’t shoot early and suffered the protester harassment without incident.
“Overall the only thing Meddick and (CADS representative) Laurie Levy chose to complain to the media about was there being fewer hunters to complain about.”
Levy and Meddick rallied dozens of anti-duck hunting bigots to Lake Cullen to set up camp including a ‘triage’ tent and woodfired pizza oven.
However, only a handful of hunters were prepared to suffer their foolishness with most choosing other wetlands or to hunt on private land.
That didn’t stop Meddick and Levy from claiming victory. They spun their failure into it being a sign that duck hunting had lost popularity.
SSAA Victoria was asked by ABC Mildura-Swan Hill and The Geelong Advertiser to respond to the claims.
“It's good to see these media outlets showing a bit of professionalism by seeking to balance their stories,” SSAA Victoria Communications Manager Justin Law said.
“But the claim that duck hunting is somehow dying a death is ridiculous and a grasp for relevance by a new Upper House politician who rode in on the current wave of animal activism popularity.
“I think they were embarrassed that they tricked all these people into driving all the way to Kerang for what turned out to be, from their perspective, a fizzer.
"The only thing they appear to have performed emergency surgery on in their triage tent was the truth."
The biggest hiccup was the closure of Lake Elizabeth on Friday evening after less than 50 Freckled Duck were counted among an estimated 3000 ducks.
“That was a big disappointment for the many hunters who were camped there on Friday night, especially as it appears to be a reaction to pressure from anti-hunting political groups,” Mr Laird said.
“Hunters take the Waterfowl Identification Test so they can pick game species from protected birds, so this is completely overly cautious and again hunters are penalised.”
The Game Management Authority said in its media release, “the Victorian Government is closing Lake Elizabeth near Kerang for the beginning of the 2019 duck hunting season to protect a significant population of freckled ducks found on the lake.
“The closure will be in place for seven days during which time it will be monitored to determine if it will remain closed to hunting for a longer period.
“If the numbers of freckled duck decline substantially then it will be recommended to be reopened to hunting.”
Mr Laird said SSAA Victoria will continue to update members on the status of the wetlands throughout the season.
“We’re pushing to have the wetlands reopened and hopefully a bit of common sense will prevail,” he said.
SSAA Victoria was joined by the other leading hunting organisations to deliver a positive message ahead of the 2019 duck season.
Field and Game Australia CEO Glenn Falla and Australian Deer Association Executive Officer Barry Howlett joined SSAA Victoria Hunting Development Manager David Laird to encourage hunters to share their stories.
"Many of our members enjoy the cultural pursuit of duck hunting and we encourage them to celebrate our culture on social media as the 2019 season unfolds," Mr Laird said.
"Duck season continues to enjoy the support of the major parties because it is sustainable and brings millions in tourism dollars to regional Victoria."
Duck season commences this weekend (March 16) at 9am and continues until May 19.
Details about bag limits and wetland closures can be found here.
SSAA invites you to attend our FREE Try Shooting day, where highly trained range officers will show you how to handle a .22 rifle and enjoy the sport of shooting safely.
The day is designed to introduce people with no previous experience to the shooting sports with a two-hour session of range shooting.
“The Try Shooting Day is a fun introduction to the sport for all abilities and gender in a relaxed, family-friendly environment,” said SSAA National Coaching and Membership Development Manager.
“We want to show that sports shooting doesn’t discriminate and is a fun family pastime which can lead to representative shooting at state, national or even international level.”
There are limited spots available in two sessions held on the day which includes lunch and the supply of all equipment including the use of a .22 rifle.
It is completely free of charge. For details, contact the National Coaching and Development Manager Gemma Dunn via email using email@example.com.
Session 1: 10am-noon (latest arrival time is 9:30am).
Session 2: 1:30pm-3:30pm (latest arrival time is 1pm).
Arrive at least 30 minutes prior to your session time to allow for the completion of sign-in.
Each session will have a maximum of 20 participants so get in quick!
Spots are limited and online bookings are essential to participate.
Lunch and drinks are provided for participants and guests. There are also canteen facilities on site for other purchases.
All shooting equipment is supplied by SSAA including .22 rifle, ammunition, hearing and eye protection. Participants will be covered by SSAA public liability insurance and temporary Victorian firearms licensing rules and procedures will apply.
All participants must be aged 12 years and over, and comply with state firearms laws and requirements.
Participants must wear appropriate clothing including enclosed shoes (no heels, thongs, singlet tops or camouflage clothing).
Please ensure you bring photo ID (driver's licence, photo ID card or passport).
Are there ID or minimum age requirements to enter the event?
Participants need to be 12 years or older. If a participant is older than 12 and younger than 18, they must be accompanied by a parent or guardian and the Parent/Guardian Consent Form must be completed upon arrival.
What can I bring into the event?
Everything is supplied by SSAA however if you feel more comfortable using your own ear and eye protection you are welcome to bring it with you. You can bring cameras but they cannot be mounted to the firearms. Should you have any special dietary requirements we will do our best to cater for you; however, you are welcome to bring your own food on the day.
What guns do I get to shoot?
You will be shown how to use a .22 rifle which will be supplied on the day.
Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?
It is preferable that you bring your printed ticket. We will, however, accept a mobile version for viewing on the day. You must provide a copy of your ticket either way as it is your confirmation of securing a spot to the session.
Is my registration fee or ticket transferable?
We will allow tickets to be transferred as long as there is one participant per session in attendance.
Is it OK if the name on my ticket or registration doesn't match the person who attends?
Tickets are transferable. We will need to capture the details of the attendee via photo ID on the day prior to shooting.