Historic gun club ordered to ceasefire

Historic Sebastopol Gun Club was shot down by contamination findings, leaving it homeless after 63 years at Marty Busch Reserve.   

Club president Russell Hardy had been shooting at the reserve for over 40 years and said the decision by the council to shut the club was “pretty hard to take”.

“It was just, that’s it you’re out, you’re closed, banned,” he said. 

Photo credit: Eliza Beck
Fenced off Sebastopol Gun Club at Marty Busch Reserve

Established in 1954 before the area was developed, encroaching residential properties and recreational facilities positioned the gun club in the council’s firing line.

“The council have used the EPA to close us because they don’t want us here because of the residential houses, you’ve got kids playing footy here and people walking around with guns, it’s not a good look, he said.

“If we’re not viable to shoot here any longer then that’s ok, but surely the council can help us find somewhere else and that’s really what we are after… we can take our memorabilia and move on.” 

The club as is was on the final day of shooting

Many of the club’s 70 members are retirees who won’t shoot again if a new site isn’t found in or around Ballarat. 

In a written statement, Director of Infrastructure and Environment Terry Demeo said the council is looking into a new home for target shooting.

Olympic gold medallist Russell Mark started his career as a 12-year-old at Sebastopol and was one of four Olympians at the club’s final shoot in March.

Olympic gold medalist Russell Mark’s score at Sebastopol’s final shoot

Mark credits training at Sebastopol to his former world number one title and said the site is one of the best to shoot at due to its challenging conditions.  

“If you could hit clay birds at Sebastopol, you could shoot anywhere,” he said. 

The Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party successfully lobbied the state government who last month committed $3 million to assist the EPA with their investigation. 

Member for Northern Victoria Daniel Young said the money will also assist regional clubs with exorbitant clean-up costs.

Club traditions

“Obviously we want any work that has to be done to be done properly but the reality is we can’t let regional clubs, which are important to the community, just die off like that,” he said.

The funds are of some comfort to Sebastopol Gun Club, with far less in the bank than the estimated $100 thousand required to remediate the site.   

Newly refurbished range at Marty Busch Reserve


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