Shooting clubs have existed in Australia since the mid-19th century. They are mainly concerned with protecting the viability of hunting, collecting and target shooting sports, rather than keeping firearms for self-defence as in the USA. Australian shooters regard their sport as under permanent threat from increasingly restrictive legislation. They argue that they have been made scapegoats by politicians, the media, and anti-gun activists for the acts of criminals who generally use illegal firearms. Their researchers have found scant evidence that increasing restrictions have improved public safety, despite the high costs and severe regulatory barriers imposed on shooters in Australia.
The largest organisation of firearms owners is the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia, with 150,000 members (2013 figures). The SSAA clubs across Australia local sporting organisations affiliated with Branches. SSAA state branches are responsible for lobbying on local issues, while SSAA National addresses Federal legislation and international issues. SSAA National has non-government organisation (NGO) status at the United Nations and is a founding member of The World Forum on the Future of Sport Shooting Activities (WFSA), which also has NGO status. SSAA National have a number of people working in research and lobbying roles. In 2008, they appointed journalist and media manager Tim Bannister as Federal Parliamentary lobbyist.
For handguns, one major organisation in Australia is Pistol Australia, affiliated through the National Shooting Federation AISL to the ISSF, IMSSU (Handgun Metallic Silhouette) and WA1500 International organisations. In 2002 Pistol Australia won exemptions for handgun calibre restrictions above 9.65mm calibre for its Handgun Metallic Silhouette and SSAA won exemptions for handgun calibre restrictions for its Single Action Shooting competitions.
There are several other national bodies, such as Field and Game Australia, the National Rifle Association of Australia, the International Practical Shooting Conferation (IPSC), the Australian Clay Target Association and Target Rifle Australia. These national bodies with their state counterparts concentrate on a range of sporting and political issues ranging from Olympic type competition through to conservation activities.
The Combined Firearms Council of Victoria was created in late 2002 and has been very active in the debate in Victoria. The CFCV ran advertisements in the 2002 Victorian State Election. The CFCV made voting recommendations at the 2002 and 2006 Victorian state elections, supporting specific candidates rather than political parties. Four of the six ALP MPs elevated to the front bench after the 2002 Victorian election were supported by the CFCV. A Firearms Consultative Committee, established in 2005 in Victoria, led to several changes to firearms legislation that benefited handgun users and gun collectors.
The Shooters and Fishers Party is a political party in New South Wales that "is the voice of hunters, shooters, fishers, rural and regional Australia and independent thinking Australians everywhere. Advocating for the politically incorrect, a voice of reason, science and conservation". Its founder, John Tingle, served as an elected member of the upper house of New South Wales parliament, the Legislative Council, from 1995 until he retired in late 2006. The party currently holds two seats in the NSW Legislative Council. In 2013 a Western Australian branch was formed and stood candidates in the state elections, winning a seat in the WA Legislative Council.
The Shooters & Fishers Party stood Senate candidates in all states in the 2010 and 2013 Federal elections.