Queensland sport shooter Sally Jones has called for coffee clubs, childcare facilities and other services to be attached to shooting ranges to attract more women to the sport, reports the ABC.
In an email written to, and then published by, the Shooters Union Australia, Jones wrote:
“The shooting fraternity in Australia (especially the shooting ranges) definitely need to up our act and provide female (and children) friendly environments where women, girls and young people can enjoy the fantastic sport of recreational shooting.”
The advocate for women in shooting told the ABC: "Childcare would be an advantage. To allow women to come along and have their children looked after whilst they're participating in a competition, or just a practice session."
The ABC believes the national shooting body is prepared to support Jones’ ideas.
While the proposal may seem controversial (because: kids and guns), it’s the concern of lead exposure from smoke and bits of bullets that float through the air after crashing into targets that has experts and industry insiders calling it unsafe.
Erin Tomas, an instructor at the Hillcrest indoor pistol club and shooting gallery in Brisbane disagreed with Jones’ statements saying that a shooting range was not a healthy environment for children.
"Developmentally, when they're [children] indoors they're exposed to lead and exposed to the noise," she said.
Dr Mark Laidlaw from Melbourne’s RMIT, has studied instances of lead exposure at shooting ranges and said he worried that having childcare at shooting clubs would result in children becoming exposed to lead dust.
But if children could be in danger of lead exposure at shooting ranges, what about the shooters?
The ABC reports that studies show sport shooters are exposed to unsafe lead levels that could affect unborn children.
Dr Laidlaw explains that once someone is exposed to lead it does not leave their body. Instead, “It stores in the bones and when [women] become pregnant the bones re-mineralise. And the lead is released from the bones, exposing the foetus.”
He also said lead could be passed on from mother to child through breast milk, which could then result in poisoning the baby.
While Jones’ proposal to have child-friendly facilities at shooting ranges is controversial, it’s still a far cry from likes of Bullets And Burgers shooting range in the United States or even Florida’s Machine Gun theme park where children as young as 10 can participate.