FAST moving in more ways than one, the Gympie Clay Target Association made some rapid progress yesterday, when sporting shooter and LNP state election candidate Tony Perrett opened new shooting facilities in Gympie.
Clay flew in all directions as Mr Perrett and his wife Michele fired off a few welcoming salvos, while flying targets did their best to make like the pigeons.
Taking advantage of the club's tradition that anyone who opens a new facility should be the first to try it out, Mr Perrett achieved a perfect three out of three as he blasted targets launched from the new equipment.
Club secretary Greg Nuske said the new trap equipment would throw the orange clay targets fast and far and there would now be four layouts instead of three.
He said the expansion would allow the club to host bigger events, with more shooters and their families visiting the region and more opportunities for shooters to make progress in the sport.
"We'll be able to host zone events” he said, explaining that this was a step towards state and then competition, from which the Australian team would be selected for international events.
"We're getting bigger crowds already,” he said.
Out of 55 members and an unknown number of visitors, 51 turned up for the regular monthly shoot on Sunday morning, despite persistent rain keeping the formalities under cover.
President Bruce Pearce told members the new equipment, including trap houses, had been paid for some big donations.
"We received $35,000 from the Gambling Community Benefit Fund and $4160 from a Gympie Regional Council Community Access Grant,” he said.
This helped the club pay for earthworks, a power upgrade, 10 cement shooting stations and an automatic target thrower.
Pathways for disabled shooters would be completed in coming weeks, he said.
Traphouse construction began early this year and most of the work was finished by mid-year, Mr Nuske said.
"Over the past five years our membership and shooter attendance numbers have increased significantly.
The new equipment enables us to have larger competitions and to deal with increased numbers of shooters in an efficient and timely manner.
"It also allows us to hold zone shoots as we now meet the minimum requirements set by the Queensland Clay Target Association,” he said.
"We can now hold a zone shoot once a year, from which winners will progress to compete for the Queensland, Australian and Olympic teams.
"Gympie is located in the south-east zone, which has about 14 other clubs.”
And he says visiting shooters will be a shot in the arm for the local economy, spending money on accommodation, meals, fuel and all the other ecnomic mainstays of the Gympie region sports tourism economy.