Beaudesert Rifle Club agrees funding complaints are off the mark

ON TARGET: Beaudesert Rifle Club president Mike Samuels with his silver medal from the World F Class championship. Photo: Larraine Sathicq
ON TARGET: Beaudesert Rifle Club president Mike Samuels with his silver medal from the World F Class championship. Photo: Larraine Sathicq

SHOOTERS Union Australia and Beaudesert Rifle Club have taken on anti-gun organisation Gun Control Australia after a report accused sporting shooters of running their clubs on the taxpayers dollar.

Shooters Union Australia said complaints over allocation of government funds for shooting sports were unfounded and unfair.

This was in response to a report released by Gun Control Australia stating that more than $77 million of government grants had been awarded to gun clubs since 2014.

The report said Queensland got the biggest slice of the funding pie with $16.5 million allocated to upgrade shooting complexes.

GCA president Samantha Lee accused sporting shooters of being in cahoots with the gun lobby.

"While many sporting clubs hold sausage sizzles to keep afloat, the already cashed-up Sporting Shooters Association of Australia is flush with taxpayer funding," she said.

"Although the participation rate in shooting sports is declining in Australia, the level of government funds remains high.

"It's no doubt a reflection of how effective the gun lobby's backroom deals with politicians continue to be."

Shooters Union Australia president Graham Park fired back, saying most of the money was spent upgrading the Belmont Shooting Complex in Brisbane for last year's Commonwealth Games and it was disgusting for anyone to suggest there was anything wrong with that.

"Insinuating there's something sinister about upgrading sporting facilities to hold international events like the Commonwealth Games... is not only deluded but un-Australian," Mr Park said.

Beaudesert Rifle Club president Mike Samuels agreed.

"The Commonwealth Games required a different type of clay target arena than what was available," he said.

"So a new one was built at Belmont and the indoor pistol range was upgraded. To my understanding both facilities are still owned by the state government, not the Queensland Rifle Association."

Mr Samuels said he found it incredible that a sport that produced so many Australian world champions was 90 per cent self-funded and found it harder to secure funding than AFL, NRL, cricket and swimming.

"It is incredibly difficult to get grant money for target shooting in Australia," he said.

Mr Park said $77 million over five years across all of Australia equated to about $15.4 million annually and was pocket change compared to the amount of money made available to other sports.

"Sport Australia received a $358.4 million funding allocation in this year's federal budget alone," he said.

"I don't hear anyone complaining about our athletes, cyclists, swimmers or tennis players getting government funding for their facilities - and no should they.

"All athletes and sports clubs regardless of code, have a right to apply for grants and funding."

Mr Park said for many smaller shooting clubs, especially in rural areas, government grants were the only way to upgrade their facilities.