James Ning currently serves as Vice-President of the Melbourne International Shooting Club (MISC), Australia’s premier pistol-shooting club and one of the oldest in the country.

Apart from his regular duties there, he works as a Firearms Instructor for a recognized training organization. James trains armed security guards in his capacity as instructor, and he is a recognized authority on the subject of firearms training.

We talked to James about how the MISC brings in new members, and how the Club works towards increasing individual members’ proficiencies through various training methods and programs.

 

Tygus.Shooting:

How long have you been an officer of the Melbourne International Shooting Club?

James:

Four years, two of them as Vice-President. Prior to that I was the New Membership Manager. I’ve also been a member of the MISC for 10 years.

 

Tygus.Shooting:

What is the most difficult situation you have had to handle so far, while you’ve been in office?

James:

The most difficult situation is always to make all the members happy, on a day-to-day basis!

 

Tygus.Shooting:

What sort of things do you look at before you bring new members into the club?

James:

We like to look at their personality, we look at the type of person they are. And then they have to come through and do a Safety Course, where we really scrutinize their ability to deal with the safety aspects of the sport. We don’t do any background checks because we’re not the Police, we don’t have the resources. The actual background check is done by the Police when these prospective members apply for their firearm licences.

 

Tygus.Shooting:

Once they’re accepted, how do you induct them into the MISC?

James:

They first have to come in personally, when they express their interest to join. We then take them around the Club to show what the club has to offer them. After that, if they’re interested, they join. Before they can come and shoot, however, they require a Probationary Licence for a minimum of 6 months, during which they are supervised throughout that time. Once that probationary period is over, they can apply for a full Licence.

We normally put them through different stages—the air pistol first, then they go through to Rimfire, which is .22 revolver or .22 semi-automatic. From that they can go to Centerfire. All coaching is included in their membership. We normally have coaching and training sessions here on Wednesday evenings and on weekends.

The entire progression used to take 6 months, but we’re trying to change that at the moment. What we want to do is go to a competency-based progression, so that it will really be up to the member. We recognize that some people can learn quickly, while others learn very slowly. It also depends how often they can come to the club during their probationary period.

What we normally require is a minimum of 6 air pistol coaching sessions, a minimum of 6 coached rimfire sessions, and finally, a minimum of 6 supervised centerfire shoots.

 

Tygus.Shooting:

What shooting disciples are most popular among the club’s members?

James:

As we are a VAPA Club, the ISSF competitions—basically Centerfire, Rapid-Fire, and Service Matches—they are the most popular matches we have.

 

Tygus.Shooting:

Do you have a program for improving the shooting skills of your members?

James:

Oh yes! Every second Wednesday we do hold a program here, what we call the Fundamentals, that’s basically honing the fundamentals of shooting.

 

Tygus.Shooting:

I understand that Air Force cadets are regular visitors at your range. Tell us a bit about these young shooters.

James:

The Air Force cadets have their own program. They hire the range and bring their own instructors. They also bring their own equipment. They don’t do handgun shooting, it’s basically rifle shooting for these Air Force cadets.

 

Tygus.Shooting:

It’s not uncommon to find troublemakers in any sizable organization. How do you deal with infringements of your club’s rules, and maintain decorum among your members?

James:

Our rules are clearly defined, and in case of infringements, the worst penalty troublemakers can suffer is we bar them from the Club. They are not members anymore, they can no longer come in here.

It depends on the severity of the breach. If you have a minor safety breach, they have to go through the Safety Course again, and they start from scratch again. If the breach is more serious, we might suspend them. Serious breaches include pointing their gun in an unsafe direction, or firing the gun when they’re not supposed to fire.

 

Tygus.Shooting:

What is your favorite shooting event, the one that you participate in the most?

James:

I have a few. I shoot Service Match. I also shoot WA1500, and I used to shoot a lot of IPSC as well.

 

Tygus.Shooting:

I’m sure you have a family. How do your family members feel about the time you devote to running the Club?

James:

I don’t have young kids anymore, they’re all away and it’s just me and my wife. My wife has her hobbies as well, so we do manage to spend a lot of time together in spite of my duties here. I don’t come here every weekend. However, I’m always here, if I can make it, on a Wednesday night because that is our Club Night.

 

Tygus.Shooting:

What would you say is the biggest problem facing shooting clubs in Australia today?

James:

The biggest problem facing any shooting club is the ignorance of the public regarding what we do. If you look at it, shooting clubs in actual fact support shooting competition at international and Olympic levels.

It’s the anti-gun lobbyists that are saying that we should not have guns. That’s why we’re having a lot of these rules about guns. The problem is that criminals will not hand their guns in. You put in a lot of these rules and regulations, the people that suffer are the law-abiding citizens and the farmers who need guns to support their livelihood. But the criminals could not care less whatever rules you put out there, they can still have their guns. Basically, it’s the ignorance of the populace about what this sport is all about.

 

Tygus.Shooting:

What’s your advice for people who are setting up new shooting clubs, or people intending to become part of a club’s management?

James:

My advice to them is, if you want to set up a shooting club, make sure you know what the regulations are, and what the laws are, for the state you are in, or the country you are in. It’s very important to abide by those rules.

For those managing it, not only do you have to know what the laws of the state are, you also have to be very familiar with what the laws are, for the club. You have two sets of rules, you’ve got one which is for the laws of the state, and then one which is for the rules of the club. Now, each club varies in its rules.

One very important thing here are the Range Orders. We have five different ranges here, for example, and each range has different Range Orders. You have to know which set of Range Orders apply to each range, because these Range Orders are all based on safety.

 

Tygus.Shooting:

Thanks a lot for sharing your time and experience with us, James!

James:

No worries! All good!

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