THE Bega Valley Traditional Archers have fired back after their sport was criticised by councillor Keith Hughes (BDN, 25/1).
At the recent Bega Valley Shire Council meeting, Cr Hughes stated archery was an unsuitable activity for seniors and that it steered youth towards gun culture.
His comments have been soundly denounced on the BDN website and in letters to the editor (see breakouts).
Meanwhile, an informal poll on the Bega Valley Traditional Archers’ website asking whether Cr Hughes should be censured for his comments registered 92 affirmative votes and two negative within the first 24 hours.
As of yesterday, the poll stood at 172 for, two against and one uncertain.
BVTA secretary Garry Mallard said Cr Hughes’ comments were “insulting”.
“BVTA is a not-for-profit community organisation that strives to ensure that archery is developed as an inclusive, respectful, responsible and safe sporting option for all residents of the Bega Valley,” Mr Mallard said in a statement to the BDN.
“BVTA does not believe that the Valley’s seniors are ‘less likely to be able to pull a bow back’, or that they are too ‘feeble’ to engage in archery, as is Cr Hughes’ position.
“Cr Hughes’ assertion that archery is an inappropriate sport for youth is nothing short of bizarre, and his statements suggesting that council support for our club’s recent application for Youth Week event funding would be somehow equivalent to taxpayers’ money subsidising acts of animal cruelty, is insulting, both to our club and to the Valley’s youth.”
Mr Mallard also said Cr Hughes’ assertion archery is the “start of inculcation to gun culture” is “ill-informed at best”.
“It is statements such as those made by Cr Hughes, in a full session of council, that are marking out a new genre of social and cultural intolerance in the Bega Valley, fostered by the Valley's self-styled guardians of social and moral welfare,” he said.
“The world’s leading anthropologists include the development of bow and arrow technologies among the four most important epochs in human development – the other three being the development of fire-making technologies, the development of language and the invention of the wheel.
“Since there is an undeniable link between fire and pyromania, cars and road fatalities, language and abuse, perhaps at some time in the future Cr Hughes will lobby against council support for anything that involves matches, wheels or words.
“Cr Hughes has amply demonstrated the damage words can do.”
Mr Mallard said the BVTA was committed to the preservation of skills and cultural practices with historical significance reaching back to the dawn of human civilisation.
“Illogical and offensive statements will not deter us from this endeavour.”