15th Of March changed New Zealand forever and in many ways, we all sat and watched in horror and disbelief. Our thoughts and prayers went to victims and families. For myself, being part of the competition shooting community and a avid history buff, I had a feeling how it was going to go with a labor government in charge and the percentage of English police in our police HQ.
Here in the shop, I returned all my stock of semi’s and started getting my competition gear together for a predictable anti gun backlash and ban on firearms - the only one of my predictions that hasn’t come true yet…YET, is a complete ban on firearms, though I think it will come if labor stays in power at the next elections.
A couple of things that really stung, one being predictable, was general A class holders throwing those of us who enjoy competition shooting sports, under the bus (we had a good chuckle then the extent of the bans spread to their .22 and shotguns ) and they had to try and back pedal (#federatedfarmers).
But the one that stung the most was the media and public perception, that shooting sports are not legitimate sports and that New Zealand doesn’t compete on the world stage nor compete at a high level.
For me personally, coming from a sporting family, watching my brother play Cricket for New Zealand I wanted to represent NZ in my own chosen sport.
When I finally made selection for the New Zealand team and heading to the Australasian Handgun Championships in the Philippines, the local media who were going to run articles on it (to try and raise the profile of the sport) changed direction and wouldn’t touch it, and in their words it didn’t fit their policy and direction. While we understand the need for sensitivity, it is obvious that a 180 wasn’t necessary and perhaps more care to how it was to be framed, could be applied.
So I spent the whole of last year trying to focus on work, dry fire, trying to reload enough ammo to keep up with my live fire training, the media were vilifying us as “gun toting red necks”, “Right wing gun nuts” “Racist” etc. The police started taking our firearms off us, being as vague as possible with rulings, taking forever to release price lists, raiding houses (with excessive use of force in some cases) and making multiple phone calls to myself and my wife about guns that were already handed in. The Government seemed to be taking away our rights, avoiding due process, and doing their best to portray us as the reason it happened all while covering up the police’s licensing mistakes that caused this to happen.
Finally November arrived and we packaged all our gear and headed to the airport. The flight was uneventful and once we landed we were greeted by a welcoming party handing out lanyards, and then went through a very strict security process before heading to our hotel. It was so refreshing to be treated with such respect and excitement by the people of the Philippines, as shooting sports are huge there and the event meant a lot to them.
We were awarded a massive honor as being the last team into the stadium at the opening ceremony (normally reserved for the home country) because they asked us to perform the Haka, to give you an idea of the scale of the magnitude of the event, there were over 1100 competitors attending from over 42 countries for the handgun championships, by comparison, the 2019 Oceania athletics championships had 700 athletes from 22 countries.
Our total team was comprised of 42 people, 20 people made up of the official team the rest people wanting to experience the event with the possibility of more bans on the horizon, with a total medal count of 14. It’s the best result to date for a New Zealand team! Not that you will hear about it in any New Zealand News Media (to put that in context the Australian News Media covered their team’s results) then it was a 36 hour marathon home to more law changes.