Security and guns expert Paul Graham travels the world as part of his job, but he’s happiest sharing his expertise with remote communities at home in the Northern Territory.

Story By David Hancock

“Nice, isn’t it?” Paul Graham asks with obvious admiration for the firearm in student Mark Milligbirr’s hands. “That is the most widely used sidearm on the planet at the moment. It’s simple, accurate, reliable, easy to strip and clean, and virtually indestructible. It is a very, very functional firearm.” The student gives Paul a knowing nod and unleashes a wide smile, but his eager eyes say it all: “Well, let’s get down to it, mate. Let’s do some shooting.” It was a look that Paul – the owner of Australian Security Training Pty Ltd, former buffalo catcher, Australian shooting champion, international security expert, firearms trainer and veteran of 40 years in the Northern Territory – has seen many times. You don’t live and work in the Top End of Australia without meeting people who like to shoot. Some do it for their livelihood, some for pleasure and some out of necessity, but most of the people Paul instructs have an affinity and a respect for weapons.

At 19 years old, Mark is no novice with firearms – his father, uncles, cousins and siblings have used them to gather tucker and protect themselves in the harsh environment of Arnhem Land since before he was born. Like most of his countrymen, he grew up with guns and now, as an employee with the Gurruwiling Rangers at Ramingining, NT, the time has come to obtain the firearms licences necessary to cull feral animals such as pigs and buffalo, and to protect himself and others when collecting crocodile eggs in the Arafura Swamp.

“Nice gun alright. Nice and light,” Mark says. “What’s its name?” Paul explains that it’s an Austrian-made Glock. “The nine-millimetre cartridge will go through conventional armour so I imagine it will go through a crocodile skull,” he says. “Some people use revolvers, but I prefer to have 17 rounds in the magazine than six, especially when confronted by a big croc.”

Paul goes on to explain to the 20 Aboriginal rangers gathered in the shade of a spreading paperbark that this particular handgun, the Glock 17, will still fire when dropped in water or mud, even underwater. Its 17-round magazine and slick lines make a noticeable impression on the rangers, aged from teenagers to much older men.The two-day course at Ramingining is one of several that Paul and his assistant Geoff Rudd run on Aboriginal communities each year. Training Aboriginals in the use of firearms makes up about 40 percent of Australian Security Training’s business – the remainder involves teaching the staff of security companies, pastoralists and their families, government employees and fishermen.

This story excerpt is from Issue #64

Outback Magazine: Apr/May 2009