NZDA rifle ranges—the home of safe firearms practices in New Zealand

NZDA Wellington range officers assist with scouts training

The New Zealand Deerstalker’s Association (NZDA) is a national body representing and advocating for recreational hunters and has its foundation in 49 local branches spanning the country.

A primary attraction for many of NZDA’s 10,000 members is access to rifle ranges that are available through 22 of these branches. This is especially so for members from our large urban centres such as Wellington and Auckland where there are obvious restrictions on available areas for safe shooting.

Access to rifle ranges is an important pre-requisite to becoming a safe and ethical hunter, which is a core part of the NZDA culture. Rifle ranges enable safe and controlled firearms training and education. They are a place for hunters to regularly practice shooting and sightin rifles to ensure precise and ethical shooting in the field.

NZDA’s rifle ranges are designed and constructed in accordance with the NZDA Manual of Range Design, Construction and Inspection Guidelines and are certified as fit for purpose by NZDA Range Inspecting Officers. They operate with a strict set of Range Rules that are specific to each range.

Range activities are overseen by certified NZDA range officers, of whom there are more than 400 around New Zealand.

Range officer training involves a full day course on range theory and overseeing shooting activity, with emphasis on safety and emergency response procedures followed by a practical assignment to ensure competency.

Many HUNTS trainees have their first exposure to firearms on NZDA ranges

The management of NZDA ranges is overseen by local branch committees made up of hardworking volunteers who give up their time to ensure the ongoing safe operation of these community range facilities.

The core of NZDAs firearm’s training is through the Hunter National Training Scheme (HUNTS) program. The HUNTS Programme is a hunter education programme developed and delivered by NZDA. Its purpose is to provide training to new hunters on the knowledge and skills required to be a safe, responsible and ethical hunter. More than 100 trainees per year participate in HUNTS courses, and many of these will have their first exposure to firearms on an NZDA range.

NZDA also has a family membership structure that allows for firearms education and range shooting for younger family members in a supervised and controlled environment. NZDA is actively engaged with other community groups such as scouts, allowing safe introduction to firearms for other community members at range facilities. NZDA ranges are also routinely used for competitive shooting, and by shooters who represent New Zealand in various shooting disciplines.

NZDA ranges have an outstanding safety record, with no reported incidents on NZDA rifle ranges since 1987 when the monitoring of incident reports began.

The New Zealand Police have recently proposed regulations that will serve to over-regulate the operation of NZDA rifle ranges through onerous fees for range certification, limiting access and overbearing operating conditions that will cut across the purpose of these community-based clubs and facilities. This will include restricting young people from shooting under immediate supervision, which is permitted under existing law. In many instances, these requirements will be prohibitive, meaning ranges will no longer be able to legally operate.

The consequence may be that range shooting will be diverted away from these safe and controlled environments where there is an ethos of firearms safety, education and training, and into the backcountry or unmonitored makeshift ranges. This means NZ Police’s attempts to improve national firearms safety will have the opposite effect.

We need strong clubs with safe ranges, delivering training to firearms users because firearms are part of New Zealand’s historical and cultural heritage and are used by 240,000 New Zealanders for work, sport, and food gathering.  It’s also worth noting that NZ Police themselves access and use many of our community operated ranges, including NZDA ranges, to practice their shooting.

Share this post :


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Create a new perspective on life

Your Ads Here (365 x 270 area)
Latest Stories

Subscribe our newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest updates direct to your inbox.


Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest updates direct to your inbox.