Alan Cooper. vice president
It is a great honour to be asked to write a forward for the club history section of the new BDRPC website.
On leaving the RAF in 1981 I wanted to continue the shooting I’d enjoyed since a 14 year old in the ATC. I soon found BDRPC and from the moment I walked down to the Quarry Range enquiring about membership I was made welcome and felt totally at home; as I do to this day when I walk onto the range. The club was full of characters; many of whom had been members from its inception in 1954 including the very unique Tony Hamilton. It was a far more relaxed time for those interested in shooting and with the camaraderie and the all-round good fun we enjoyed, it was the halcyon days for pistol shooting.
Shortly after I joined, the club purchased the Quarry. With the club owning the land, the committee decided they could invest in the future by replacing the scaffolding supported corrugated iron roofed 25 yard firing point and stone-dust bullet catcher with a modern 50 yard range and 19 firing point building.
As with all clubs, there were differences in opinion about how to achieve the expansion. With the support of friends I was persuaded to join the committee and soon after took on the job of Chief Range Officer; a position at the time responsible for the range construction, maintenance and safety.
During the following 18 month shutdown a dedicated band I nicknamed the “Construction Crew”, the names of whom are commemorated on a plaque in the kitchen, with much hard work and sacrifice constructed the Hamilton Range you see today; one of the finest ranges in the country.
We only enjoyed our pistol shooting for another six years before the pistol ban legislation took effect. During those six years we added the 8 firing point 20 yard Watkins range. Originally conceived as an overflow and practice range, it soon became a favourite for shooters preferring to shoot the shorter distance.
After five years as club Chairman I moved to the USA in 98; where I now live. I return each year and take every opportunity to see my old friends at BDRPC. It will always have a very special place in my heart and as a Life Member I still take a keen interest in what the club is doing. Today the club is still full of characters, still full of life and full of active shooters. I’m so pleased to see the club is once again flourishing thanks to a committee made up of good people who act in a professional and selfless way to ensure the club is run for the benefit of all members. They are the finest committee the club could wish for and I look forward to BDRPC going from strength to strength under their leadership
Alan R Cooper.
History outline by our co-founding member, the late, great and very much missed Ted Saunders
It began in the early post war years – not sure which one, when Tony and I met at a local fencing club. Tony had his University colours and I was competing at National level. At the club we discovered a mutual interest in “skill at arms” and in particular with pistols. As both had legal firearms they teamed up looking for places to shoot. There were plenty of indoor rifle ranges for small-bore but the clubs themselves were unfriendly. In the end it came down to Pilning and with the goodwill of the T. A. (and the range warden) we were allowed access on vacant dates. army Rifles dates always took precedence. By now word was spreading in that mysterious fashion of grapevines and the nucleus of the club was forming.
Then sometime in the early 1950s a breakthrough came when we were allowed into Filton to use the RAF range. Luxury! This was a much more convenient location, much tidier facility and offered regular practice for all calibres.
About this time as well, one began to detect a slight relaxing of attitudes towards pistols. Both the NRA and NSRA had reinstated their national meetings and several members began to take a serious interest in these at Bisley. The T. A. were also allowing us the use of the Drill Halls such as HMS Flying Fox. And so with some measure of stability in about 1954 the club formally established itself as Bristol and District revolver and Pistol Club .However all was not well. Towards the end of the decade the influence of the Cold War plus other foreign problems, was becoming obtrusive. These were causing concerns for the authorities over security. Thus it was that as a civilian organisation we eventually received the heave-ho from the military establishments of Filton and Flying Fox. This change did have the effect of concentrating the mind on the search for a permanent home. Many options were viewed and considered, but in about 1960 negotiations were finally concluded for the use of our present home.
We did not then obtain the security of tenure we now enjoy. That came later. Also as more of the site was still in use for quarrying our facilities then were much more limited. Cars were parked at the Pub and access was on foot down the side of our hole in the ground. Some climbing skills were necessary until a path with steps were made. Even so the descent in wet weather could be somewhat hazardous.
As time passed efforts were made to improve conditions. With new blood and enthusiasm these efforts increased until we have now what must undoubtedly be regarded as one of the best private club ranges in the West.
How many can boast a pub on their very doorstep!!!
Ted (a founder member).