SSAA Warwick branch president Mal Smith and daughter Wendy at Risdon Range yesterday.
SSAA Warwick branch president Mal Smith and daughter Wendy at Risdon Range yesterday. Gordon Collie

Backing for status quo with ages

WENDY Smith might only be 12 years of age but she is hoping to secure a gun licence next year and carry on a family tradition in the sport of shooting.

The Killarney State School student has used an air rifle on the family's potato farm at The Falls to down a few targets.

“I am not really aiming to win at shooting, it is good to hit a few targets,” she said.

“Shooting could be my main sport in years to come.”

She shoots at knock-down targets at home which can be reset with a string.

Her father Mal Smith, an international medal-winning shooter, is in his third year as president of the Warwick branch of the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia and has discounted suggestions in the metropolitan media about concerns children as young as 11 can apply for a gun licence.

“The younger shooters start, they become safer a lot quicker,” he said.

“Children at age 11 listen a lot more and are better behaved than 18 or 20-year-olds who don't listen.”

The Warwick branch has three shooters aged 11 and Mr Smith said they all started in the sport in a one-on-one situation with a range officer.

“An 11-year-old boy shoots each month and the other 11-year-olds compete when their parents can bring them to the range,” he said.

Mr Smith stressed it wasn't necessary for a child to have a licence to shoot in a club situation.

Children, 11 years and over, can compete but there is a lot more paperwork to fill out at each shoot than if they have a gun licence.

Even if a shooter obtains a gun licence at 11, they can't buy a gun until age 18.

Southern Downs Rifle Club president Rob Bondfield sees no need to change the current age limits.

“A headmaster at a New South Wales school (where I coach) has said students in the rifle shooting team show academic improvement much greater than students in any other short,” Mr Bondfield said.

“They learn to concentrate and focus on what they are doing in shooting.

“Anyone who wants to get a gun licence has to attend a course and do a test just like with a car licence.”



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