SHOOTING: Sadness at closure of rifle clubs

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SPALDING Rifle Club’s demise will close an association over 100 years old with rifle target shooting as a sport in the district.

It comes as a result of the proposed demolition of the Sports and Social Club and indoor rifle range in West Marsh Road, Spalding.

The closure has seen the demise of two rifle clubs that until recently used the range.

The facilities have served the town and district well having been home to British Sugar Rifle Club, Spalding Rifle Club and Holbeach Rifle Club as well as shooters from the police and the Air Training Corps.

Spalding Rifle Club chairman Geoff Clark said: “I have been a shooting member of Spalding Rifle Club for 52 of the 67 years that it has been in existence and it was with some regret that as chairman I have now been responsible for overseeing the closure of the club.”

The club can trace its roots back to 1910 when one of the most successful village rifle clubs in the country was founded. Pinchbeck Rifle Club won national competitions open to any club in the country and had numerous successes at county level.

Over the years the club has had some notable successes, members have shot for the Lincolnshire County team which competed with some success in national county leagues.

Mr Clark said: “The club supplied county team shooters every year that I have been a member and at one time there were seven Spalding Rifle Club members shooting for the County ‘A’ Team out of a team of 20 as well as those that were shooting for the reserves.”

The club entered teams in competitions in Lincolnshire Leagues, National Leagues and Rutland Leagues with success in all, at all levels, as well as providing individual Lincolnshire County Champions and an England trialist. Members have regularly shot at Bisley in the National Championships.

In the late 70s and early 80s a shooter from Grantham, Barry Dagger, joined Spalding Rifle Club to get more practice and shot for England at the Olympics, the World Championships and Commonwealth Games with great success wining medals at all three events.

Mr Clark added: “I think he was in some small part helped in his success by Spalding Rifle Club. His team mates in the national and county leagues from within the club were not disgraced by his scores, one year we had two members as well as him in the top 100 shooters by average in the national long range league, no mean achievement for a small town club.”

A selection of the club trophies and the minute book which covers meetings since 1945 to the club’s closure have been given to the Spalding Gentleman’s Society.