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Range Officer Rob happy to be paid in smiles

Range Officer Rob happy to be paid in smiles

Driven by a desire to help people, Rob Loricco has found himself working just as hard in retirement as his did in the workforce.

A shooter of more than 52 years, Rob is a sharing his knowledge as a Range Officer at Eagle Park Range. When he retired from work about three years ago, Rob – a SSAA Victoria member of more than 27 years – decided it was time to give back to the sport that he loved and encourage more people to give it a go.

“I do four or five shifts a month at the range and I love it,” he said. “Any time someone is sick I jump at the chance to do an extra shift. The drawcard for me is seeing the smile on somebody’s face because I’ve helped them with their firearm and the joy that I see after someone hits a target. Sometimes all they need is a bit of guidance.”

Working as a volunteer Range Officer can be a demanding, particularly at times when the range is full. On a weekend, more than 80 people could be on the firing line and a dozen more people could be waiting to shoot.

The Range Officers on duty are responsible for enforcing range order, ensuring the strictest of safety standards are upheld and ensuring all shooters feel welcome, safe and comfortable on the range.

“The support that shooters get from Range Officers is really good. We’re all professional with our approach. Number one is their safety – that is our top priority,” Rob said.

“We get new shooters who have a firearm come up onto the range and tell us they don’t even know how to load it,” Rob said. “That’s where we come in and that’s a joy for us. We show them the safest way to use that firearm and when they leave the range they can’t thank us enough. It’s not just a matter of walking up and down and making sure everyone is having fun. There’s a lot more to it.”

Rob’s patience and empathy make him popular among new and experienced shooters alike. The Single Action Cowboy shooter credits his disability for strengthening those skills. “I am blind in my right eye,” he said. “As a right-handed person it is quite difficult to shoot with pistols because I have to use my left eye. Then when I shoot with the rifle I shoot left-handed.

“I don’t care if I miss a target – I have a disability and I know I have a disability. I just shoot because I really enjoy it and I always come away happy. I just want everyone to enjoy their time as much as I do.”

The desire to share his love of the sport is what led to Rob to become a Firearm Safety Instructor with Victoria Police. In that voluntary role, he educates people on basic firearms safety before they apply for their licences.

Rob began running courses at Geelong but was recently promoted to become Senior Instructor for Williamstown and Werribee. Working with Divisional Firearms Officer Anita Harroway in his new role, Rob has begun training new Firearm Safety Instructors to help clear a backlog of people waiting to do the course. He recently ran the first training courses at Werribbee in two years.

In the past two months he has instructed about 150 to 165 applicants through that course. “In that time I’ve also taught three new instructors as well and together the four of us are going continue training more people,” he said.

Rob is now among a team that is rewriting the firearms safety course for Victoria Police. He said he was overwhelmed by the support and encouragement from the Victoria Police’s Licensing and Regulation Division.