THE Laang range will accommodate 360 of Australia’s best shooters when it hosts Federation Field and Game national championships this week.
Highly-rated shooters Renae Birgan and Jack Gibbs headline the bumper field chasing one of the highest honours in Australian shooting.
The titles are run by the Australian arm of the Federation Internationale de Tir Aux Sportives de Chasse (FITASC).
Victorian branch president Ray McFarlane said the capacity field was a record for Australian championships.
He said the hype surrounding the event reflected well on the Laang range, which was “perhaps the premier shooting range in Australia”.
“Since they’ve run the world championships and other major events down there, people want to come to Laang to shoot,” he said.
“It’s a fantastic club. It’s only a small club but they’re great workers and Warrnambool is a nice place.
“The terrain at Laang suits our sport and we’ve been able to use adjacent farmland as well for shooting. It’s virtually a new ground for shooters to shoot on, instead of going over old ground.
“Everything that happens down there is first class.”
McFarlane said the leading contenders would shoot at Laang after competing at FITASC world titles at Northbrook, Chicago, in August.
Birgan won silver at the worlds and helped the Australian women’s team, which featured Kelly Norris and Warrnambool’s Vicki Johnstone, to gold.
Australia also won bronze medals in the juniors and veterans’ sections, while Byaduk’s Ron Rhook claimed bronze in the veterans’ section.
“We’ve also won two golds in the world cup with Renae Birgan and Jack Gibbs. That’s run over a series of events including the world championships,” McFarlane said.
The four-day national championships start with practice today.
Shooters will fire at 225 targets, 75 on each day of the competition, which runs from Friday to Sunday.
Classes include open, A, B and C grade, women, veterans, super veterans, juniors and sub juniors.
“It’s something that gets into your blood,” McFarlane said. “The people that shoot nationals are all pretty dedicated competitors.
“A lot of people go down without any hope of winning but they still go to beat themselves.
“It’s a great sport. The challenge is there, the targets are challenging. And some people come along just because they’ve been to the majority of nationals we’ve had and they catch up with people they haven’t seen during the year.”