Are target shooters in Aussie,able to buy semi-auto shotguns,or are they unavailable for the average shooter?.
It depends on which state you are in to some extent. There is a general ban on semi-auto rifles and shotguns and pump action shotguns in all States and Territories but they are available on special licences to Farmers for use on their farms and to competition clay target shooters for use only on clay target shooting ranges. In Victoria (and presumably all the other sates and territories as well because it was part of the Police summit agreement) there are two ways to qualify for a Category C license for clay target shooting.
1. You owned a semi-auto or pump action shotgun for use in clay target events on 15th Nov, 1996 (the date the new laws were enacted) and were at that time a member of the ACTA.
2. The sporting shooter requires the firearm for clay target events due to a lack of strength or dexterity.
Note that supporting documentation is required for the above reasons.
For 1. it includes proof of membership at the date and proof of ownership at that date.
For 2. it includes a doctors statement outlining the physical condition that is given as the reason. (This provision inherently accepts that semi-auto shotguns significantly lessen the effects of recoil on the body).
In Victoria, the use of Semi-Auto's has been extended to include target shooting with Field and Game membership. Semi-Auto's can be used for clay target shooting on any clay target range by shooters that hold a Cat. C license for clay target shooting, but under this license they can NOT be used for any kind of field shooting. Note that when I wanted to visit a F&G competition in Tasmania I was informed by the Tasmanian Firearms Officer that I could not legally use my semi-auto forearm on the F&G range, only on ACTA ranges.
I think the same might apply in NSW.
In Victoria, a holder of a Category C licence for Clay Target shooting may own up to four Category C firearms for this purpose. For example, I have a Trap Gun, a Skeet Gun and a Sporting Clays Gun under this provision and intend to acquire another spare/backup gun in the near future.
As I understand it, in NSW they may only own one. (There goes the backup gun.......
) EDIT: Had correspondence with SoT today and he has been informed that NSW has no limitation on number of firearms on the special clay shooting Cat. C license - good news!)
I don't know the details of this in the other states. Perhaps someone who does can let us know?
I am not a Lawyer so I am not an expert on the laws but I have gone into it in some detail a number of times so if any Victorians are thinking of applying for a Category C license I am happy to help with what I know. I know of at least one case where it seems to me the Victorian Firearms Branch seriously misled an applicant with incorrect advice so beware.
PM me if you have any questions and I will happy to try to help.
PS. I forgot to mention that people who use a firearm for professional purposes may also obtain a category C firearms license. For example, professional pest destruction, where a person derives a significant proportion of their income from this activity. (Quite difficult to satisfy this requirement and I know of only a few people who hold this license).