Tim’s Speaking Notes for the 100th Anniversary Luncheon.

Notes for 100 Year Anniversary Presentation.

Welcome to 100th Anniversary of Roseville Rifle Club. Welcome to special guests:

Councillor Robert Browne of Hornsby City Council
Mister Gary Bryant of the Firearms Safety Council
Senator David Leyonhjelm
Former Captains Bill Roger and Phil Rocks

100th anniversary celebrations are rare events. However, since June 2013, and counting tonight’s occasion, I have attended 3 such events. They have all been celebrating the Centenaries of rifle clubs: Lyndhurst Rifle Club, Canberra Rifle Club and Roseville Rifle Club. Canberra Rifle Club is the city’s oldest surviving sporting body.

I have some Questions:

  • Why were these rifle clubs formed?
  • Why have they lasted so long?
  • Are they still relevant today?

A Brief History.

Most rifle clubs were formed either immediately before or during World War I. Rifle clubs operated as an adjunct to the reserve military forces and were generally under military control. They were intended to provide basic military training and develop marksmanship. Roseville Rifle club was formed in or about October 1914. At the end of December 1914, the club had 83 members and by the end of January 1915 it had grown to 200. Members undertook drills twice a week at Lindfield public school and at other locations in the area. One of Roseville’s founding members Ernest Tebbutt, lived in Shirley Road, Roseville, and was instrumental in setting up a 300 yard range at the bottom of Shirley Road. Access was by way of a track known as the Rifle Way running between what is now the Pacific Highway and Shirley Road. It is still there today. In about January 1915, John Jenkins, a well-known Roseville resident, offered his land at Fullers Road, Chatswood for use as a 600 yard rifle range. UTS Kuring-gai campus now sits above the area where the stop butt would have been. On Thursday, 29 April 1915, just days after the Gallipoli landings, the Sydney Morning Herald noted that the Roseville club had about 350 members divided into Roseville and Chatswood companies. On 14 October 1918, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that on 9 October 1918 Roseville Rifle Club’s Roll of Honour was unveiled at the club room and that the roll contained the names of 43 members of whom 11 did not survive the wall. That Honour Roll is over there.

Given the horrific nature of World War I, it is understandable that interest in shooting dropped at the end of the war. Minutes from the AGM of 1924 suggest that membership dropped to less than 20. Nevertheless, efforts were made to build up the club and at its meeting on 13 January 1925 the committee agreed to build club hut on Chatswood Rifle Range. In 1928 it was agreed to hold quarterly social meeting to distribute prizes, discuss general business and “propositions for the welfare of the club and spending a social evening together in harmony”. Faulty ammunition was a problem in 1930 as the club was still being issued with 1916 ammunition and competitors were allowed another shot for every shot that failed to go off! They were called “double bungers”. During World War II the shortage of .303 ammunition led to the club to form a miniature or small bore club which shot at 25, 50 and 100 yards.

By 1946, the use of 303’s had stopped and the club had gone into recess. Nevertheless, a meeting agreed to reform the club and visit Victoria Barracks with a view to obtaining rifles and ammunition.

It seems that 4 members of the club were killed during the war. At least 3 of these were members of RAF Bomber Command and the prevalence of our RAAF membership may be explained by the proximity of the RAAF base at Bradfield Park, west of Lindfield. Bradfield Park was once a suburb which has since been absorbed into West Lindfield. After the war. It served as a refugee hostel, and immigrant hostel. As a boy who grew up in Lindfield, I remember we never liked to play soccer against the tough English boys from Bradfield Park! I remember that some wore rings in their ears! That was pretty far out in 1957! In 1957, the supervisor arrived ranges directed that all club huts on Chatswood range were to be removed by the end of March that year as the Chatswood range was to be closed. After considering the cost of removing Roseville’s hut to Hornsby Rifle Range, it was decided to advertise it for sale, but as it was not sold by the end of March it had to be abandoned. During the 1960’s membership was limited as ammunition was hard to come by and in addition a number of members resigned to move to clubs located at Anzac Rifle Range, Liverpool.

Major changes to the rifle movement took place in 1966 when it was announced that the Anzac Rifle Range at Liverpool would close in 1967, and due to shortage of.303 ammunition, there would be a change in calibre to 7. 62 millimetres. These were years of uncertainty for the rifle movement as the availability of.303 ammunition had become critical and confusion existed regarding what type of rifle would be approved for use with the new ammunition. In addition, Anzac Rifle Range at Liverpool, one of the finest ranges in the world, was to close. Fortunately, a strong committee of Gordon Marquette, Roger Le Moy and Alf and Dennis Rae had taken shape within Roseville Rifle Club. Money was raised for a new clubhouse. Gordon was also president of the North Shore District Rifle Association and a modern toilet block was built on the range. By 1969, the use of rifles that could be used with 7.62mm ammunition was becoming clearer and the approval of the Omark 7.62 target rifle, which sold for about $70, was to breathe new life into the rifle shooting movement. It was at the end of 1969 that I purchased an Omark rifle for $69 and a Central site for $28. I commenced shooting in January 1970 with Mosman-Neutral Bay Rifle Club.

On 15 August 1970, the new club hut was opened by Lieutenant-Colonel Ernie Green. Throughout the seventies and eighties, it seems that the club membership was around 40 to 50 members with regular attendance by 15 to 20 members. Significantly, Mark Buchanan joined Roseville in 1987. Mark already had 2 Queen’s prizes under his belt at that stage and was to go on to become one of most of Australia’s most successful target rifle shooters. Mark’s influence and example was to lead to a change of culture in Roseville Rifle Club. In those days, shooters on Hornsby range were content with club shooting and rarely travelled to prize meetings or Queen’s prizes. Roseville members were the same then.

Mark’s Dad, Jack Buchanan, had transferred to Roseville some years earlier, and Mark and Jack travelled all the Queens and prize meetings. In time, they were joined by Barry O’Donnell, Mike and Phill Hodder, Ian Palmer, Dennis and Keirin McCamley and myself. This trend has grown and our new shooters, such as, Dmitri, the Martins, Fernando, Gary Faulkner and Rob Trodden regularly attend prize meetings. Even Michael Cuda has attended a prize meeting at Mudgee! The club has made meetings such as Mudgee, Wingham and Lithgow, regular features of their annual calendar. Only last week, at least 6 shooters attended the Wingham shoot, Mark coming fifth and Gary fading at the last range, to just lose the championship.

Roseville is now the strongest club on Hornsby range. Only yesterday, Mark won the target rifle Champion of Champions shoot and Graham Coote won F Standard. Last season, our Number 1 TR team won the Arn Hammond, by a huge margin, with the Number 2 team just missing out on second place. Our F Standard Team also won their event. Last month, Mark won the Lead Up and Grand Championship at Townsville, whilst in April, our former member, Kieren McCamley, won the lead up and Grand Championship at Bendigo. A remarkable achievement.

In 2011, Roseville was the first club to start using the Hexta electronic target on Hornsby range. The Hexta target was developed by Roseville member Dmitri Kazakov and it has since been installed on Hornsby range, West Broken Hill range, Gosford range, Narromine – Dubbo range, Mount Barker range, Orange range, and Wingham range. Currently, the Hexta system is being trialled by the QRA in Queensland and is generally acknowledged to be the finest electronic target system in the world.

Why have they lasted so long?

The role of rifle clubs has evolved from being a part of the Defence Forces to become simply the facilitator of competitive and recreational target rifle shooting over a number of disciplines. Survival of Roseville Rifle Club and every other rifle club has only taken place due to the abiding interest of community members to partake in shooting competitions and the willingness of club members to voluntarily participate in the management and administration of both the individual clubs and State and National Rifle Associations. It takes many people making many contributions over many years to keep a club like Roseville running. Looking back at just the last 50 or so years, Alf and Dennis Rae, Gordon Marquette, Roger Le Moy, Ed Strom, Ian Palmer, Barry O’Donnell, Jan Wikstrom have all made major contributions. Two years ago, we celebrated at Andrew and Anne Martin’s house, over 50 years of service by Roger Le Moy. Although he no longer holds any office officially, Roger still works tirelessly for the club.

In my view people two people have been mainly responsible for the survival and success of Roseville rifle club over the last 60 years. Roger Le Moy and Gordon Marquette. Without their untiring efforts over that period, the club would not be where it is today. Would you please join me in a round of applause for Gordon Marquette and Roger Le Moy

Are they still relevant today?

The participation in competitive sporting pursuits and membership of a social group is, in my view, healthy for both the individuals involved and the community in general. Rifle shooting is unique in that it is a sport in which old and young, male and female, can compete on equal terms. The sport of rifle shooting is also unique in that as it is possible to compete from a very young age to a more mature age, lifelong friendships are made and enjoyed. We look forward to seeing more young people as members of the club. I would like to propose a toast to Roseville Rifle Club and all its members, past, present and future.

Roseville 100th anniversary luncheon, 2014

Roseville 100th anniversary luncheon, 2014

Tim Walter.

Club Captain 15 June 2014

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