Geraldton Clay Shooting Club aiming high after COVID recovery as it seeks to build members

Jake Santa MariaGeraldton Guardian
Lorraine Bligh and Kathryn Walshaw at the Geraldton Clay Shooting Club.
Camera IconLorraine Bligh and Kathryn Walshaw at the Geraldton Clay Shooting Club. Credit: Jake Santa Maria

After their last promising crop was wiped out by COVID the Geraldton Clay Shooting Club is back on its feet as it continues its reputation as one of the premier shoot clubs in Australia.

The club has a long and proud tradition of producing some of the most elite shooters and hosting one of the top events in Australia at its annual Crayfish Carnival event.

President of the club Peter Lemon said his introduction to shooting was by chance but he has not looked back since.

“I was always keen as a young fella on hunting and one day I was out fishing with a member of the club and they invited to have a shot and I just got hooked,” he said.

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“I’m not sure how to describe it, it just gets you, you’re always competing and you’ve never got anyone else out there but yourself.”

“It’s a great sport, you meet some very interesting people and it can take you all around the world.”

However, the club is facing a battle ahead with tightening gun laws and COVID taking a toll on member numbers.

“The laws are getting harder and it’s getting harder to obtain a firearms licence and it does affect all shooting clubs Australia-wide,” he said.

“There’s a lot of negativity around firearms which unfortunately paints not a very good picture that is not the reality,

“They were talking about not having any firearm sports in the coming Commonwealth games, they have been an Olympic and Commonwealth sport for many years and to just get rid of it seems a bit strange,

“But that’s the sort of hurdles we are up against these days.”

Lemon said while he doesn’t see the challenges getting any easier he is keen to continue to provide a safe but fun environment to enjoy themselves.

“This club is a very competitive club and has produced some of the best shooters in the state and Australia,” he said.

“Everyone here is responsible there’s an extensive screening process and etiquette which you have to follow but we don’t take the fun out of it either.

“As a club we can help people get their firearms licence and make sure they have the proper training and know how they handle themselves.”

Lemon said the hardest people to attract to the club are young people, something he is hoping to turn around with the club’s Come and Try Day on April 2.

“The last one we held had really good numbers with plenty of people seeming keen before COVID shut us down for a while,” he said.

“Most juniors that do come through are because their parents shoot, we used to get schools and army cadets to come out but the stigma around firearms ended that,

“We are always looking for new members and something we find with the younger members is they might have a break, get a job, move or whatever but often come back later in life.”

Veteran shooter Bert Boschetti who has competed all around the world has said nothing compares to the Geraldton Club

“I’ve been shooting clay targets since I was about 12 and I’m 84 now so it’s been a long time,” he said.

“I love clay target shooting, I’ve travelled all over the world, had a great time and met a lot of great people — everyone in the clay target circle are great people,

“We have the best shoot in the world, don’t worry about Australia, our Crayfish Carnival in September sees hundreds of people come to the town and we’re good at looking after them.”

The Come and Try Day will start at 9am, April 2 and following the event there will be a sausage sizzle and a club shoot.

Anyone interested in joining the club or wanting more information should contact the club at secretarygeraldtonclaytarget@gmail.com.

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