Brisbane Gun Club’s patron, David Evans, has been kind enough to pen a brief history of the club.
1920 – 1945
Between the two great wars, pockets of shooters shot at various locations around Brisbane. For example, on the centre of the Albion Park trotting track, the centre of the Rocklea trotting track, a private property near the Glen Hotel on the south side of the city, to name a few of the locations.
Prior to World War 2, a site was established at the eastern end of the Brisbane airport. There was a residence occupied by a full time caretaker, and feral pigeons, starlings and clay targets were shot. When the Americans arrived, they immediately took over the site for aircraft maintenance.
Shooting lapsed during the war.
Soon after World War 2, on a Sunday morning, shoots were conducted to reduce the number of feral pigeons around the Town Hall and the municipal markets which were then adjacent to the Roma Street railway station. The cartridges used were donated by ICI.
On another occasion, a flying fox shoot took place at the city Botanical Gardens. It was to be arranged that council employees would arrive early the next morning to collect the dead flying foxes. However the message did not arrive and when the gates were opened to admit visitors they were confronted by piles of dead animals. The incident appeared on the front page of the Truth newspaper.
After the war, shooting commenced at Myrtletown near the mouth of the Brisbane River. Feral pigeons and starlings were shot on a Wednesday and several bookmakers would attend as there was no mid-week racing at that time. Betting on the results was quite substantial.
In the Central Railway Station arcade leading to Anzac Square, a chap would be there regularly with a toy banjo. He could not play a note of music, but would ‘plonk’ on the instrument. He was a regular attendee at the Myrtletown shoot to bet and would arrive with a fistful of notes. He was referred to as ‘plinker plonk’.
At this time the Truth newspaper was published on a Sunday and fostered a very strong case to ban live bird shooting. So strong was their case that the Government passed a bill banning live bird shooting in Queensland. At the same time, shooting was allowed on a Sunday as previously it was illegal to discharge a firearm on that day.
It was then decided to move to Porter’s property at Stanton Road, Tingalpa (no relation to the Brisbane Gun Club Porter family). Two traps were established at the beginning, followed by a third at a later date. The two Porter brothers resided some distance from the shooting site and were given a bottle of whisky at Christmas in payment for the Brisbane Gun Club being allowed on their property.
The club house was a tin shed relocated from the Myrtletown site. Two kerosene operated refrigerators were in use with white ant nests having to be cleaned out before the start for the day.
On occasions, Sir Henry Able Smith, a former Governor of Queensland, would attend as he was a keen shooter.
The traps used were the old mechanical type requiring a trapper to place the target on the trap with an operator to push a lever forward to cock the trap and to pull the lever on the call of ‘pull’ to release the target.
Shooters would each contribute two shilling to purchase a keg of beer which would be placed on a tree stump for attendees to help themselves to a drink.
Not long after the establishment of the Tingalpa site, the DAMO electric traps became available. A trapper to place the target was still required, but the release was by push button.
To run power to the Tingalpa site would have involved a prohibitive cost, and mainly there was no permanent tenure. It was then decided to look for another location.
At the time, Major John Tunstall was in charge of Commonwealth rifle ranges and he was developing the Belmont complex. He allocated an area for clay target shooting on the western side of the complex, however power and communication was too far away. A survey showed that after extensive cut and fill, only three traps could be established.
After consulting with Major Tunstall, the present site off Mt Petrie Road was allocated. Extensive clearing of trees was undertaken and levelling of the site was necessary. The Club President at the time was Bill Edwards (1966 – 1973) and he arranged for loans from members to allow the building of the club house and other facilities. Interest was paid on loans and the loans were eventually repaid.
The main club house was opened on 26 June 1966 by Rt. Hon. The Lord Mayor, Alderman Clem Jones. Members devoted time, money and materials in developing the club and this generosity has continued to the present day.
Down the line trap layouts were first established, followed later by skeet layouts and a skeet club house. The nearest available power was near the skeet club house. Power and water had to be run the length of the layout to reach the main club house.
At competition shoots, the ladies committee undertook the catering as well as purchasing the trophies and arranging them for display. The ladies also arranged well attended social events.
It would be remiss if mention is not made of Hilton Brasher and family, whose residence is across the road from the skeet club house. They allowed parking on their property to cater for the larger number of competitors at the national championships held at the club.
Being on Commonwealth ground, liquor laws did not apply, but when the State took over from the Commonwealth, the State laws applied.
Since establishment at Belmont, improvements continue to be made with facilities of a standard resulting in several national trap and skeet championships and an Olympic shooting world cup.
Visitors are welcome to the Brisbane Gun Club and practice is available on most Thursday, Friday and Saturdays.