AFTER 17 years of toil, the East Gippsland Branch of Sporting Shooters Association of Australia finally has a home.
With an official opening pending, the new Buchan South shooting range saw its first action last month when the branch hosted its annual summer shoot at the newly leased facility.
The Buchan Range is one of the oldest in Australia, dating back to the 1890s when it was utilised as a training facility for service personal and volunteers to practise marksmanship for home defense in case of war.
Today, with the multitude of different calibres and sighting options available, SSAA leased the range from Department of Sustainability and Environment to offer a safe and controlled environment for learners and veterans alike.
Branch secretary Dave Weston said the club, which has been battling for an appropriate range location for its 500 members since 1996, was relieved to finally have a base.
“It is (vindicating)… without a range it’s hard to get people to come in,” Weston said.
“When you’ve got a range you’ve got somewhere for the members and members of the public to go.”
Until now, the branch has held shoots on private property and its junior shoots have been hosted by Bairnsdale.
Weston said the branch was the only sport shooting range that will be open to the public and non-members in East Victoria, and was set up to handle all legal calibres of rifles, shotguns, and black powder muzzle loaders.
At present, the range will be set up for a maximum distance of 500 metres with 800m to become available as the range develops.
The summer shoot was attended by about 40 members, with .22 rimfire rifles, various calibres of centrefire rifles and black powder muzzle loaders on show.
A dedicated committee is preparing the range for Victorian Police requirements, and an official opening will be held once a water supply and proper amenities have been secured.
In the interim, operation times will be decided at the February SSAA meeting in Bairnsdale.
Members of the public will be welcome to shoot at the range when days and times have been finalised.
The club has also purchased a block at Marley Point outside of Sale and has worked on addressing the necessary criteria to develop a second location.