A community sporting club in Broken Hill plans to make several upgrades to its facilities this year to improve accessibility for older members. 

The Broken Hill Pistol Club currently had around 170 members, with ages ranging from 17 to 93.

Club secretary Steve Millington said with an average age of 49, many of their members weren’t as mobile as they used to be.

“A lot of our members are ageing, some use walking frames [and] there’s been six members in the last few years who are now wheelchair-bound,” Mr Millington said.

Mr Millington said the club applied for financial support to make a range of improvements last year and recently found out they were successful.

A line of older men standing in front of a corrugated iron building.
The average age of club members is almost 50 with some now requiring assistance to stay mobile.(ABC News: Oliver Brown )

From defibrillators to disabled toilets

The planned upgrades include installing three defibrillators at their 200-metre, 50m and 25m ranges to ensure rapid responses to potential medical episodes, and an industrial-sized air cooler to improve members’ comfort.

While Mr Millington said these would be important additions, he was particularly excited about a large-scale modernisation of their outdoor facilities.

“The pistol club environment has been designed for able and generally young participants,” he said.

“What we needed to do was to improve the access and also the security.

“We decided to bitumen the car park, provide a disabled toilet that meets Australian standards, and also security lighting and cameras for people who visit the club out of hours and wish to use the facilities.”

A patch of bare dirt next to a tin shed and wire fence
One of the main upgrades will be the installation of a disabled toilet near the back of the car park.(ABC News: Oliver Brown)

Club members of varying ages expressed their excitement about the upgrades, including Ray Denton, who has been a member since 1971.

“It’s absolutely unreal,” Mr Denton said. 

“I think [the upgrades] are a good idea, it just makes it possible to get a bigger range of people into the club.”

The club committee has already sought quotes for the defibrillators, air cooler and bitumen work and it is hoped the work will be complete over the next few months.

Bringing communities together

The works will be supported by more than $280,000 in government grants, with around $270,000 being allocated through the government’s Stronger Country Communities Fund.

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway said it was important to consistently improve sporting club facilities across the state.

“That’s why we have these sorts of grants; to support clubs to make sure that anyone, no matter the accessibility they require, [can] have access and can be a part of the club and part of the community,” Mr Farraway said.

State Member for Barwon Roy Butler also welcomed the funding.

“Sporting clubs is where a lot of people in the regions get together socially,” Mr Butler said.

“Inherently [shooting] is a very safe sport and these sorts of grants make clubs even safer for their members and encourage more people to get involved.”

Mr Millington said the club also had long-term plans to improve its popular 25m range to make it more accessible for less-abled people and more attractive to young and female shooters.

An older man wearing a blue shirt and smiling, standing next to a wall and emergency defibrillator
Broken Hill Pistol Club secretary Steve Millington says he’s looking forward to implementing the upgrades over the next few months.(ABC News: Oliver Brown)