Bairnsdale Field & Game is opening up new areas to accommodate the 2018 National Carnival and adding an exciting natural setting to challenge competitors.
Days after the June branch shoot, the heavy equipment rolled in to create new tracks which will be used to bus squads to and from the new grounds.
The new area under development is heavily timbered and the open ground has thick, high cover.
“We are very lucky to have the support of our neighbour to give us the extra two shoot grounds; we can easily accommodate four grounds on our existing land, and we will put another two on the new ground,” Bairnsdale president Mick Crane said.
The two new grounds are in a unique area; we can have surprise targets coming out of heavy undergrowth. I think it will provide an exciting challenge for everybody.”
Bairnsdale’s first base at the shoot ground was an old concrete bunker (it still stands near the entrance if you look to the right as you drive in), but these days the branch is blessed with modern infrastructure.
The new clubrooms, opened last year, are as good as you will find anywhere and a new skeet ground, funded with help from the Victorian Government’s Shooting Sports Facilities grants program, will allow for two practice grounds.
For treasurer Reg Biggs, this will be his third National Carnival at Bairnsdale and the quality of infrastructure and additional land to spread out the grounds gives him great confidence.
“I’m supremely confident, I think it is going to be a wonderful event full of challenges for us, but we will produce good results with the team we have working on it and the passion our people have for it,” he said.
“We can’t promise good weather, we held one a few years ago which was known as desert storm, but we can promise a good event.”
Reg has been active at the branch for 35 years, so he knows a thing or two about the sort of targets to expect.
“We have a mixture of areas, open ground to the south and fairly wooded areas to the north and east, it will present some challenges but also some memorable targets.
“People who have been looking to shoot amongst trees will find there are plenty of trees around; you just have to make sure a tree isn’t in line when you pull the shot.”
The National Carnival is a big commitment for any branch and as well as monthly committee meetings, sub committees have been meeting twice a month since February.
Mick Crane said branch members had all stepped up to help.
“Like every club that does this there is a huge workload, but everyone we have tapped on the shoulder has been happy to help. We’ve also had good support from local businesses,” he said.
“We have structured it so we have a ground manager co-ordinating each ground with support staff to load traps and keep things running smoothly.”
As we walk through the bush that will host the two new grounds, Mick shares his excitement about the ability to offer competitors of all abilities a range of interesting and challenging targets.
“In our heavily wooded areas you will see some fast targets through the trees and people will need to be on the ball and in front; we can throw some high targets through there as well,” he said.
“When you get out onto the open ground there will be some longer targets, probably similar to what competitors experienced at last year’s National Carnival.”
Field & Game development manager Daryl Snowdon said the new ground added another dimension for competitors.
“The starting point is to set grounds that have a balance of targets, they won’t be easy but they won’t be demoralising either,” he said.
“You can expect scores to be shot relative to handicaps.”
As well as using the three distinct areas, a lot of platforms will be used for high targets.
“The National Carnival will be shot under the new rules so there will be five stands per ground and only five pairs per ground (one per stand),” Daryl said.
“It means you will shoot more singles which will change the way the grounds are set.”
In setting the grounds, the aim is for continual improvement, building on the standard set at Pinegrove, and last year at Wodonga-Albury.
“The joy of co-ordinating the whole event is that you have that overall view so that the grounds gel together and offer a balance and consistency of targets,” Daryl said.
Of course, reliable equipment to throw targets is critical to the smooth running of a National Carnival.
“It is great to have Intoshooting and Bowman traps on board, that takes a huge amount of risk out of it. They are supporting us with traps and technical assistance across the event, which is great for us,” Mick said.
Grant Sandford from Intoshooting welcomed the opportunity to showcase Bowman traps at the National Carnival.
“We are humbled and thrilled to again be involved at this great event and to showcase our Bowman traps. The Field & Game branches support us and Bowman traps, so we are very happy to be involved again and I want to thank Bairnsdale for the opportunity,” he said.
“Bowman is a very strong product and we have proven the product through the branch network; these are very consistent, but with any good product you need support and at Intoshooting we take great pride in the back-up support we provide.”
Among the Bowman traps to be used at the National Carnival is the new second generation Supermatch series.
“We have done a lot of development in Australia and it has virtually made the trap bullet proof,” Grant said.
“We have a strong relationship with Bowman and they take on board a lot of upgrades and development work we do here in Australia.”
Plenty of work remains for the organising committee, including passing areas for the main road in and out, but Bairnsdale has left nothing to chance in preparing to host the 2018 National Carnival.
“This is the third National Carnival I have been involved with at Bairnsdale and I think each one has got bigger and better; for this one, the organisation and planning is well above what we have had to do in the past,” Reg said.
“It will mean a smoother, easier run and no hold-ups.”
For competitors travelling longer distances, Mick Crane said the area is perfect for the whole family to have an extended break.
“I really hope people will stick around after the event and enjoy some time exploring Gippsland. We hope a lot of families travel for the National Carnival and spend extra time taking in what the region has to offer.”