By Trevor Patrick 2011
The 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games stimulated an interest in the sport of pistol shooting which continues to this day. A public meeting encouraged men and women interested in the sport to form the Northern Districts Pistol Club which became a legal entity of incorporation in 1962. Other Clubs formed throughout the Sydney region, notably Sydney, St Ives, Blacktown, Campbelltown, and Kurrajong. Competition was the focus in the sport and the New South Wales Amateur Pistol Association administered the Clubs. A Combined Metropolitan Pistol Clubs Association grew out of the desire to promote competition and improve the skills of the members. Nationwide enthusiasm for the sport saw the first seminar being held at Terrigal with shooters of international competition experience as guest speakers in late 1960s.
The sport was considered very suitable for men and women of all ages and Murray Brothers Department Store in Parramatta provided a glass counter and demonstration space in their sports department every Saturday morning to advance the sport. The club membership grew with a broad spectrum of professions and trades represented.
The Northern Districts Pistol Club members held training and competition matches every Saturday on the Baulkham Hills rifle range. Facilities were very basic with a folding trestle as a bench rest for pistol and sighting telescope and no overhead shielding from the elements. A half inch thick steel baffle plate acted as a projectile deflector angled at 45 degrees to the ground behind the targets. A notice stating ‘jacketed ammunition not permitted’ was fixed to this plate. Arriving at the range one Saturday members were amazed to find an S shaped hole bored through the plate. Some vandal had fired his large calibre rifle at the club’s facilities during the preceding week. The range closed when the M2 motorway was built across the site. A reminder of its location can be found in the UBD Street Directory with Rifle Range Road on page 191.
Members desired their own range and explored the district for suitable land. Enquiries at the Department of Lands discovered an acre was available under permissive occupancy rules at Kenthurst. Harry Lowe, a builder, designed and fabricated a timber frame which was easily carried by car or station wagon. He built dozens of the frames and members transported them to the range site a kilometre along a fire trail at the end of Porters Road. A commercial excavating company built up two mounds to act as projectile stops at 25 and 50 metre distance from concrete slabs put down by members. The facilities grew with member Jakov Juresa, a bricklayer, and others constructing the club room complete with a storage room, a kitchen and large dining area. The donation of a large generator capable of supplying electricity for all future needs permitted the addition of compressed air-driven turning targets. Previously hand-drawn ropes offered the experience of shooting the popular Olympic Rapid Fire Match.
In 1975 the State member for Hornsby, Mr Max Ruddock, officially opened the range. Members were able to demonstrate 50 metre Free Pistol, Rapid Fire, Centre Fire and Air Pistol in the new indoor range. Membership grew through the following years and additional disciplines such as Falling Plate, Service Match, and Silhouette Match added. In 2008 the range was approved for Black Powder Single Action Pistol Calibre events.
Disaster hit the club in December 2002 when a huge bushfire raged in the surrounding State Park. The Clubroom built of concrete Besser block along with the shooting positions on 50 and 25 metre ranges were destroyed, but miraculously the air pistol range and the generator shed survived. The membership rallied and with insurance monies an all-steel club rooms and shooting positions were built. These facilities are insulated from heat and cold and offer sportsmen & women a pleasurable experience on all shooting disciplines. Transparent Lexan walls separate each shooting position in the 25 metre turning target ranges giving the range officer an excellent supervision view.