‘It’s difficult for us, most definitely, and very sad as we are a non-profit organisation and a niche group,’ WA Rifle Association executive officer Kate Ludgate said.
In July, Defence Minister David Johnson told the association it had to move, meaning the final test of marksmanship at the range neighbouring the SAS’s Campbell Barracks will be the 105th Queen’s Prize from September 25-29.
The increasing sensitivity of SAS training and operations means about 250 shooters from Fremantle, South Perth, Bassendean, Subiaco, East Perth, Armadale, Mandurah and Mundaring rifle clubs will be homeless for a year.
The association plans to move to a $6 million, State Government-funded replacement range near Wanneroo by the end of next year and will investigate using a Kalgoorlie range for next year’s Queen’s Prize because the Goldfields hosted the first year of the competition.
Ms Ludgate said the range’s closure had been expected for several years and association access had been on an annual basis until recently, but the final move would still be a shock because the ashes of dead shooters were at the range, in addition to a memorial for the association’s war veterans.
‘It was wet and windy in 1961, at my first Queen’s Prize meeting, and the Swanbourne range really hasn’t changed too much but Sandy Circle used to have lots of little huts which are no longer there and before that we used to camp in tents,’ 1968 Queen’s Prize winner Jim Moore, of Katanning, said.
The last shooting at Swanbourne will include a Champion of Champions competition, final awards and an RAAF flyover to commemorate the range’s links with the defence forces that started with its predecessors used by pre-Boer War militias.