Article 9 – 2010
Question: I enjoy your monthly column to the point I am now contemplating joining a clay target club just to have some recreational fun and maybe in the future joining the occasional competition. I have enjoyed many forms of shotgun shooting over the past year, but I was wondering what you believe the best type of clay target event would be for me to join as I am concerned about people suggesting shooting competitions are in trouble in Australia because attendance at clubs has been on the decline for the past thirty years.
Phillip Coates Richmond NSW
Answer: Thank you Phillip I appreciate your comments. The SSAA, ACTA and both Field and Game bodies offer specific forms of clay shooting that can be enjoyed at a wide range of levels. Have a think about what you want from the sport, where you want to end up and most of all what discipline you enjoy the most?
The second part of your question, whether clay target shooting is on the decline in Australia, is widely debatable. I would suggest it is not. There is no doubt that the number of competitors at weekly or monthly club DTL Trap competitions is lower in 2010 than they were thirty years ago. This would be a fairly accurate statement for the majority of clubs in Australia that have been in operation for that length of time. However the amount of clay targets actually shot at each month, I would suggest for the greater percentage of these clubs, is way up. This is largely due to one factor. Practice. Thirty years ago it was nearly impossible to shoot a practice clay target anywhere mid week. These days most clubs in all capital cities and larger provisional centres have at least one day during the week set aside for practice and many clubs also have either Saturday or Sunday as a practice day also. For example the club I do the majority of my training at, the Werribee-Victorian Clay Target Club in Melbourne, is open four days a week solely for practice and one day or night weekly for competition. Without practice income the club would undoubtedly struggle. The best way to make money at a gun club is to throw targets. Clay target clubs have identified that there are a huge amount of shooters such as yourself that simply want to go and shoot clay targets for fun and don’t really want to be put under the pressure of an organized competition.
Another reason why numbers may be down at club competitions today as opposed to events several decades ago is simply, as I have previously suggested, that there is a huge variety of clay target disciplines for people to choose from today. On any given weekend a shot gunner can take his or her selection from the Olympic and domestic events offered by the ACTA, two types of Sporting Clay competitions and on top of this the variety of practices offered by the SSAA which include events as diverse as black powder and vintage side by side days. Every type of taste is catered for at some range somewhere in 2010 as opposed to basically the standard DTL and Skeet competitions that were on offer by the ACTA affiliated clubs until the 1980’s.
Unfortunately I don’t have the data supporting this theory. It can really only be done by calculating the total amount of clay target sales annually within Australia, but I have no doubt it is more in 2010 than it was thirty years ago. If anyone has an accurate idea I would be happy to hear from them as it would be a handy gauge to judge the health of our sport.