President’s Message: April 2020

What a turbulent time since my last report. Fires, drought, floods and COVID-19 (Coronavirus) have significantly impacted our country.

COVID-19

The outcomes of these issues have seen consumer confidence fall and, if COVID-19 gains momentum, then share markets and business will be significantly impacted. The possible result will be less money in the economy which will impact our industry and possibly even our membership as funds tighten up in Australian households. Remember that in many cases your membership is your genuine reason to have a shooters license.

ASSISTING IN THE IMPACT OF BUSHFIRES

At the beginning of the year when the impact of a long drought and the danger of bushfires were at their peak, I wrote to you all about these issues and I thank those members who responded to that call to support our farmers and our communities.

A common thread through those responses was  talk around supporting farmers and communities by taking on the difficult tasks of euthanising starving stock and injured wildlife. In NSW we need a specific addendum to our firearms license to euthanise animals so, in most cases, this was not possible. To ensure we can help in future disasters, our upcoming Registered Training Organisation (RTO) will provide the training for members to gain the necessary licence accreditation.

The impact of fires on native animals and vegetation was widely publicised. The increased vulnerability of many native animals to predators, due to destroyed habitats, was also a topic of discussion. Our native wildlife has suffered without their traditional environmental protection and their food sources.

We met with various authorities around their needs to have highly qualified volunteers to help manage the impact of feral animals on native wildlife and native vegetation. Positive results for our conservation efforts will flow from these meetings and our RTO is key to meeting the needs of skilled feral management.

COMMUNICATION AND COOPERATION

In my last NSW Shooter report I wrote of the success of our communication and our efforts to make our industry and all law abiding firearms owners (LAFOs) more cohesive. Externally we have had significant success in identifying the common goals we share with other shooting bodies and the firearms industry. There are still some individuals that are chasing personal agendas and I ask them to stop and consider the bigger picture. We can all share in positive outcomes by working together.

External success is far greater than I anticipated when elected in May 2018. Political access and relationships with allied associations and registry, etc. are all much stronger than at any time I can recall in our recent past. These results are based on the policies and recruitment that SSAA NSW has undertaken.

RECENT ACHIEVEMENTS

Our organisation has focused on engaging more of our industry and other shooting bodies to achieve positive results for LAFOs. The staff and the volunteers have done exceptional work in creating these changes for SSAA NSW, and I thank them for their efforts.

The following outcomes have been achieved by SSAA NSW over the last year and a half:

  1. New models of communication in rapidly changing world, using technology to save time and costs:
    a. Jai’s journal to all emails for regular updates;
    b. text updates to advise of attendance requirements;
    c. electronic attendance with updates on the receipt;
    d. SSAA NSW magazine with formal reports and updates from important industry partners; and
    e. Facebook and web updates.
  2. New Member Branch, Albury, joining SSAA NSW. They are on track to run the SSAA National 5 Stand competition in May. A completed rifle range update for Forbes Branch, with a limited danger template.
  3. Plans in place for Dubbo Range, supported by registry and development approval.
  4. Temora range DA approved and “cost effective” range build to start. This range, with primary amenities and a shotgun range, to start shooting ASAP. The full plan will be built over time.
  5. Armidale range plans should be conditionally approved by registry as you read this report and a new DA will be prepared.
  6. SSAA NSW assisted Macksville range with a successful DA application to increase their shooting hours. Macksville did a great job preparing for this application and we attended the council meeting in support of the Branch.
  7. Board committed to a focus on facilities for members in the Sydney basin.
  8. New affiliate level being prepared to run alongside our current affiliate club model.
  9. We have been acknowledged as a leading peak body by the Firearms Registry. A “peak body” is an organisation that can provide your genuine reason to own firearms, as well as support the sport effectively with regulators and government. The work we have done has elevated our position in the industry, so our members have more security in our sport.
  10. SSAA NSW has promoted a Range sub-committee at SSAA National. The need to assist the state regulators in fact-based range template management, with emphasis on controlled fire and historical safety, will see longevity in our ranges.
  11. We appointed a range review officer to assist our range committees to pass range approvals and to manage the consistency of the range reviews. Registry is supportive of this position, as they believe this will improve standards over SSAA NSW ranges with less friction and better outcomes.
  12. Gemma Dunn, our National coaching coordinator has run successful try shooting days for many Branches nationally and in NSW, with a focus on Women and Juniors. To Gemma’s credit, new female shooters are increasing at a faster rate than new male shooters joining SSAA.
  13. We have very strong relationships with political parties, state government bodies, conservation organisations and firearms manufacturers. In some cases these relationships include a Memorandum of Understanding, which formalises healthy partnerships.
  14. We have developed our Registered Training Organisation and this will soon open for business. This organisation will support our members and manage relationships with hunting opportunities. The RTO will be a profit centre with many organisations, both government and private, that need specialised training. If only half of our projections eventuate, we will have a very successful RTO.
  15. We have initiated a program to support our members who may want to run in the upcoming local government elections. Local councils are very important and Councillors who understand our sport would be helpful in combating the emotive bias that often exists at this level.
  16. Our research results have been incredibly useful in all meetings and lobbying activities we have attended over the past year. Having these facts from both shooters and the community in a well prepared format has assisted the success of 2019.

There is more, but more importantly we can continue to do so much more. Cultural change in how we interact with each other, our sport, our industry, our regulators and most importantly our community, will see us create positive change in the future.

Thank you for your ongoing commitment to the shooting sports.

Lance Miller is the President of SSAA NSW.