SHOOTING STARS: Mildura Clay Target Club has produced two-time World Junior Champion Nathan Argiro, PICTURED, but the proposed upgrades could bring more international competitors to Mildura.

By MITCH RODD

THE Mildura Clay Target Club is aiming high to become one of two world-class shooting facilities in Australia.

The club is looking to give its Eleventh Street base a much-needed facelift through applications recently submitted to both the State and Federal governments aimed at increasing participation in sport.

If successful, the Mildura Clay Target Club (MCTC) will look to develop better access for those with a disability, install a second Olympic trench to increase the number of shooters who can compete at one time, and install an Olympic and Commonwealth Games level shooting curtain – as developed by PCM Enviro.

If all goes to plan, the club could host State, national and even international events, and potentially accommodate shooters who would be looking to practice for the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020. 

The whole project could cost about $1.6million, with the first stage estimated to cost about $700,000.

MCTC secretary Maxine Schache and former president Darren Argiro are two club members behind the push, and both believe the benefits would be significant to Sunraysia, as well as the club itself.

“The screen we would look to install is similar to what they’re building in Tokyo so everybody will be coming to try and shoot on the same sort of layout,” Mr Argiro said. “We’ve got the weather, we’ve got the airport, we’ve got the accommodation, we’ve got everything here in Mildura.

“We also know as a sport that shooting can have some negative views from people. If we can get these upgrades hopefully we can prove to people that it is a safe sport that the whole family can be involved in.”

Mrs Schache said better facilities would help bring more people into the sport in Mildura.

“The way we are set up at the moment, we can’t have wheelchair shooters. Our toilet block is actually not wide enough to get a wheelchair in and around,” she said.

“There might be somebody sitting in Mildura who is our next Paralympian, but at the moment we wouldn’t know because we don’t have the facilities to accommodate them. One of my daughter, Beth’s, friends is a wheelchair shooter, but he can’t come and shoot here easily at the moment just because of our facilities.

“We had a ladies’ come and try day in 2016, and more than 50 ladies took part. It was a brilliant turn out, and they loved it, but none of them have come back because we don’t have the best facilities – the older, outside toilet block for the women just isn’t suitable. 

“You see them (the come and try participants) up the street, and they still say how much fun they had, but the facilities have held them back.

“The other thing is if we do get nicer facilities, we will then need to accommodate more people. We have over 100 shooters in our club, and if we have too many people out there at once and it’s backing up while everyone is waiting for a turn, it may put people off. 

“Getting a new Olympic trench layout would mean we can have one for people that are being coached, and one for people who are actually practicing, so people aren’t held up.

“The great thing about shooting is we’ve got grandparents and grandkids coming together, it’s not age-dependent, you don’t have to be an Olympic athlete.

“Just getting the second trench would allow us to hold national and State competitions. If we can get this, we know we can get World Champion shooters here, we’ve got Penny Smith and James Willett who are prepared to come down and do coaching. 

“We also know that if we get the curtains we’d be one of two clubs in Australia, and that would also attract people who are about to go overseas and shoot because it would be a world-class training facility.”

If successful in the grant application, the MCTC has all the necessary permits in place to be ‘shovel ready’ and begin work immediately. 

It is estimated the upgrades could take six months.

The big drawcard for national and international level shooters would be the installation of PCM Enviro’s patented ‘Shotstop’ Shooting Curtain System, which was used on the Gold Coast for the Commonwealth Games earlier this year.

Company directors Paul and Craig Mitchell grew up in the Mallee, with the company a long-time sponsor of shooting in Australia. 

Currently they support Olympians such as Willett, Smith and Daniel Repacholi.

Paul Mitchell said PCM Enviro had developed a relationship with the MCTC, and had agreed to help them in their application. 

It is believed they have offered a $50,000 in-kind donation.

“Craig I are originally from the Mallee, and we still have family and friends living there,” Mr Mitchell said. “We will be providing our patented ‘Shotstop’ Shooting Curtain System, which is the same system that was designed and installed for the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. 

“Materials to help install the curtain will be sourced through local contractors in Mildura. We’ve shot at Mildura before, and it is a hard place to shoot on with the open background. 

“If there was one of our curtains set up in Mildura, we know it will not only help develop local shooters, but also bring in national and international level shooters to use the facilities in preparation for future events.

“One of our main focuses is to promote the sport to women and juniors. We see the MCTC as the prime opportunity and location to develop this system. 

“Mildura is the perfect location weather-wise, and having its own airport to cater for travellers.”

The MCTC has developed many strong junior shooters over the past few years, most notably two-time World Junior Champion Nathan Argiro.

Mrs Schache said better facilities would also help further develop the next crop of young shooters.

The MCTC will hold a barbecue and information session next Wednesday, October 10, from 4pm, which is open for club members and the general public. The event will be attended by Member for Mildura Peter Crisp, Member for Mallee Andrew Broad and Mildura Rural City Councillors. 

The event will also showcase the successes of Argiro and Jack Cullinan, who was a member of the Universal Trap World Championship winning team.

The MCTC is located on Eleventh Street near Olympic Park Speedway.