A VICTORIAN high school has defended its decision to take students on a shooting expedition two days after the US massacre.
More than 50 students, aged between 12 and 15, from Ballarat High School and Beaufort Secondary College attended the Beaufort Gun Club yesterday where they were taught to wield rifles and fire up to 20 rounds each, the Herald Sun reports.
Ballarat High School senior co-ordinator Michael Cook conceded he had second thoughts about the field trip in light of the Newtown tragedy in the US.
"It crossed my mind (to cancel the event) . . . but do you stop teaching swimming because someone drowned?" he said.
"We were really too far committed to it. We'd already purchased the food and drinks."
In a notice sent to families and seen by the Herald Sun, Ballarat High advised parents participating students could learn how to shoot without holding a firearms permit because a registered coach would supervise them.
"Please, under no circumstances may students bring firearms or shotgun shells to school," the notice said.
Students participating in the outing at the shooting range yesterday were heard discussing the Sandy Hook massacre while their classmates fired.
A 14-year-old Year 8 student described her first experience holding a rifle as "fun".
"I was a little nervous, but I'd definitely do it again," she said.
Gun Control Australia secretary David Stack said the excursion was idiotic following the US tragedy.
"It's a bad idea in any case to be introducing kids to shooting, but it's particularly insensitive now," Mr Stack said.
But Field and Game Australia CEO Rod Drew said linking the excursion to the US tragedy was "drawing a long bow".
I don't think any of us here can imagine any of what those families are going through . . . but at the same time we're a world away here and we do not have American-style gun culture," Mr Drew said.
Ballarat High School principal Gary Palmer said the school had been running similar activities for a decade.
Read more at heraldsun.com.au