The first entry on the honour board hanging in the spacious and modern new club room at Bairnsdale Field & Game is dated 1952.
Back then it was called the Bairnsdale Field Sportsman’s Association and field shoots were supplemented with clay target events held initially in a paddock behind Charlie Growcott’s house, a logical choice given he owned the only trap in the district.
Later, the shoots were held on an old shooting ground behind the Bairnsdale Racing Club Hotel before settling at the current Comleys Road site in the 1960s. The first clubhouse was a disused concrete guard house, a remnant of its use as a World War II aerodrome.
A roof was built on the guard house so it could serve as the secretary’s office and canteen, a far cry from the modern facility the members now enjoy.
“When the Shooting Sports Facility grants were advertised we thought it was a good opportunity to access the grant; we had some funds locally through savings, good members and support from businesses to make it happen,” Bairnsdale FGA president Mick Crane said.
“We are very happy with the result; we were a bit slower out of the blocks with construction because we had a big consultation and planning phase with members, but the proof is in the pudding, we got it right.”
The club received $100 000 from the Victorian Government, and with assistance from a long list of donors and in-kind contributors, determined to build something for the future.
“As one of the bigger sporting clubs in East Gippsland we were conscious that we wanted to continue to grow; we have a lot of juniors, and we wanted to leave a legacy for them,” Mick said.
“We are seeing that come to fruition. We had a movie night here last night with our new projector to entertain the kids during the night shoot; we had a vision that we could have a clubhouse that is open every day of the week for people to access and engage with the sport, a bit like a golf club is for its members.”
Another Shooting Sports Facilities grant is building two skeet and DTL layouts to complement the Simulated Field ground and enable new coaching programs and junior shooter development in a broad range of disciplines.
“It has been a very time consuming but enjoyable process and we are very happy with how the branch is positioned,” Mick said.
Bairnsdale will make full use of the new facilities when it hosts the 2018 Field & Game National Carnival.