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Brisbane Gun Club, Queensland, Australia.
The history of the BGC dates back to the early 1900s when live bird shooting prevailed. Feral pigeons, starlings and sparrows were used with the feral pigeons being mainly trapped at the Brisbane Municipal Markets which were adjacent to Roma Street Railway Station. Shooting took place at a number of locations around the city which included one near the Glen Hotel and at various times at the centre of Albion Park and Rocklea trotting tracks. In 1916 the group was known as the Queensland Club.
|In 1930’s the Hedley Park
complex was established. This was located at the corner of Nudgee Road &
Kingsford Smith Drive at the western end of the Brisbane Airport. There
was a substantial two storied brick building on the site which was occupied
by a caretaker. It was his responsibility to organise the shooting facilities
and to see that catering was provided. Live feral birds were generally shot
and if these ran out then clay targets were used.
In 1939 with the onset of WWII, the Federal Government resumed the gun club property for use by the United States Air Force and organized shooting virtually ceased for the duration of the war. Following the end of WWII a shooting location was established at Myrtletown near the mouth of the Brisbane River. Live bird shooting resumed, again using feral pigeons, starlings and sparrows. There were minor facilities for clay target shooting. Heavy betting took place with several bookmakers operating from a stand. Midweek race meeting were not held at the time and shoots took place each Wednesday. Betting was the real interest and one bet of one thousand pounds was made which was a substantial amount in those days. On occasions when shooting finished a two-up game took place.
On a humorous note, reference is made to a fellow who played a guitar in the old Central Railway Station subway. He strummed the strings to emit the sound of “plink plonk”. He could not play a note of music but people threw coins into his hat in sympathy. Not surprisingly his nickname was “plinka plonk” but more surprisingly he turned up each Wednesday with a substantial wad of notes to bet at the shoots. What a character.
At this time the Sunday “Truth” newspaper was being published and their press campaigned strongly to ban live bird shooting. Eventually an act of Parliament was passed to make such shooting illegal. The State member for Brisbane at that time was much involved with the betting at Myrtletown and unsuccessfully opposed the ban. As a compromise he had included in the act a clause which allowed members of Gun clubs to carry and use guns at a club on a Sunday. Prior to that it was illegal to carry and use a gun on a Sunday.
With the banning of live birds shooting, the poor location of the area (not far from the sewerage outlet) and the lack of tenure, moves were made to look for another site to cater for clay target shooting. A number of doctors shot occasionally on Porter’s Dairy farm off Stanton Road Tingalpa (no relation to the Porter family of the B.G.C.) An approach was made to the owner who was most cooperative and initially two brick traphouses with concrete tracks were installed. An old tin shed was relocated from Myrtletown to this site. Mechanical traps were used which required a trapper to place a target on the throwing arm with another person behind the shooters to operate the cocking/release lever. On the call of “pull” the lever which was connected to the trap by rodding enclosed in piping would be pulled to release the target. The word “pull” is still used today even with the use of push button and phono release. Many junior shooters of today may not be aware of the significance of the use of the word “pull”. Shooting at this location which was opened in 1955 became very popular and prior to an August Carnival shoot a momentous decision was made to install a third trap.
The club was known as The Metropolitan Gun Club and in 1954 had affiliated with the Australian Clay Pigeon Trap Shooting Association. The association changed to The Australian Clay Target Association, removing the word pigeon to alleviate any reference to live bird shooting.
In 1956 the club name was changed to The Brisbane Gun Club. Electricity was not available at the site and kerosene refrigerators were in use. On shoot days it was necessary for ladies to clean the white ants and wasps nests from the refrigerators and crockery and for the men to clean the cow pats from the shed and shooting tracks. Water for tea and coffee was boiled in a wood fed copper and the ladies provided the food. A hat would be passed around and the donations purchased a five gallon keg which was placed on a stump for pouring. The background was a picturesque setting, overlooking a swamp with waterfowl most of which were not disturbed by the shooting. Of interest is that in the 1950’s an annual event was for club members, on a Sunday morning, to shoot feral pigeons around the town hall and Municipal Markets then adjacent to Roma Street Railway Station. Cartridges were supplied by I.C.I. The dead pigeons would be taken away by spectators for eating. Can you imagine this event taking place today?
A number of clubs where electricity was available were installing “Damo” traps with electric cocking and push button release. On this site there was no tenure with significant expense to provide power to the site. No rental was charged and each Christmas the owner was presented with a bottle of scotch in appreciation. The circumstances were such that the committee started looking for a permanent location. As the Federal Government had resumed the Club’s Hedley Park facilities at the start of WWII and incorporated the site within the airport, an approach was made to the Commonwealth Department of Civil Aviation to negotiate a suitable site on the airport fringe. A site which was offered was well away from electricity, telephone and water facilities and very flood prone. This offer was therefore rejected. The transfer of the Enoggera rifle range to the Belmont Complex and the establishment of a number of shooting disciplines on the Commonwealth-owned location, prompted the BGC committee to investigate a site on this complex. This shooting complex was then under the control of the Victoria Barracks Inspector of Rifle Ranges in Queensland and an area for clay target shooting was allocated by him on the eastern side of the complex. An inspection of this location showed that the cost of providing electricity etc. to this site would be prohibitive. Also a survey of the location showed that significant earth works would provide for only three DTL layouts.
Further negotiations resulted in the present site being allocated. Quite an amount of timber clearing and earth works was necessary but power and telephone facilities were available and the layout design provided for ten DTL layouts with subsequent superimposed skeet and trench layouts. For some time only tank water was available. Funds to carry out the works were raised by donations, interest bearing loans by members and a bank loan. A significant donation was made by ICI who were the principal suppliers of ammunition and clay targets at that time. The new facilities, opened on the 26th June 1966 were well patronised and the loans were quickly repaid.
It is to the credit of many hard working club members who freely gave of their time that the club has advanced to become the fine complex as witnessed today. The club has successfully held a number of major events including National & State events, the 1982 Commonwealth Games trench and skeet shooting events, a World Cup, and for a number of years the internationally recognized Australasian Pacific Grand Prix event. In this history of the club, personnel involved have not been named as there have been many dedicated and hardworking and continuing hard working people responsible for the club as it stands today and for previous facilities. To miss naming any would do them an injustice. A book could be written on the details of the happenings over many years, the personnel involved and of course the “characters".