Gunman’s secret shooting spot
GUN casings glinting in the grass, targets riddled with bullet holes, combat practice shooting mounds and a strange cement block pistol range.
In a remote location on the far end of New Zealand's South Island, this was the secret shooting haven of Brenton Tarrant until his arrest two days ago.
The private Bruce Rifle Club is where licensed hunters claim they heard Tarrant ranting about guns and children while doing hardcore target practice with a group of "f***ing weirdos".
News.com.au visited the sprawling range surrounded by thick pine forest, next door to a golf club and the largest local regional prison, the Otago Correctional Facility.
A one-kilometre walk up a stone road in from the highway, the gun range lies on a long rising slope of land staged with firing mounds, in an eerie setting which makes you feel as though you are being watched.
On Sunday, the property was quiet except for the sound of songbirds and the thud of hooves from a startled flock of sheep.
Scattered gun shells, and one shiny full round lay near a an odd-shaped table set up by a raised mound with numbered placings for combat target work.
The range continues through different man-made staged settings until the last, unsettling scene, where a cement block pistol range is bunkered down a slope and bullet-ridden shapes hang from a rusted swing.
News.com.au exclusively revealed that Dunedin Police had dismissed reports that gun enthusiasts, including Brenton Tarrant, were discussing disturbing subjects at the rifle club
Pete Breidahl, a former military machine gunner, told stuff.co.nz he visited the club three times and heard members talking about mass shootings, the zombie apocalypse and Martin Bryant, who carried out the 1996 Port Arthur massacre.
Concerned the club was a potential incubator for a mass shooter, he lodged a formal complaint with the Dunedin police station arms officer, but was told officers were aware of the club and not worried about it.
"The conversations I had and the people I met literally terrified me to my core," Mr Breidahl said.
At the entrance to the rifle range lies a filthy squat clubhouse.
Behind net curtains, the single room is packed with chairs, high vis vests, boxes of bowling pins for target practice, a list of members on a board for shooting practice and an Asian commando target.
Nearby, a tiny oblong shed with peeling paint has four open ports for confined interior target practice.
Wooden pallets, a barrel and rusted sheets of corrugated iron lie strewn in the grass nearby.
Then, up a long sloping gravel road, through heath and at times head-high weeds and stinging nettles, the terraces of the shooting stages begin to climb.
Iron sheds dotted along the property all bear multiple bullet holes.
A staging platform with hand crafted steps sits above a bank of fat black tyres.
What looks like a picnic table to the right is an anvil-shaped shooting stand.
Up past several more shooting stages for different distance practice are four numbered targets - 4, 3, 2 and 1 - shot out with bullets.
More spent rounds lie in soft meadow grass with yellow autumn flowers.
Just near the end of the gun club's property, the land rises up and a creepy tableau of strange looking objects swing above a patch of scrubby grass.
Battered hole-filled targets of different shapes hang from a derelict metal frame, next to a white and red bowling pin ridden with bullet holes.
Down another set of hand-hewn steps, in a dirt bank, lies a hidden bunker with bird-shaped, rectangular, square and bullseye-shaped targets. Again, they are all shot through with holes.
A bizarre metal frame appears to be a decrepit handcrafted pistol range for shooters.
Behind that is a tiny concrete bunker littered with paper and plastic, its walls full of bullet holes.
Brenton Tarrant was a member of the Bruce Rifle Club during his two to three years in the South Otago region of New Zealand, where he lived quietly in Dunedin, 45km north of the shooting range.
Police charged Tarrant with one count of murder following the attacks on two mosques in Christchurch during Friday afternoon prayers.
The death toll from Friday's attack has risen to 50, and 36 injured people remain in hospital, with 11 in a critical condition. A four-year-old girl is among those fighting for her life in Auckland's Starship children's hospital.