History19 Jun 2018
A well earned break during construction of the perimeter wall of the outdoor range.
The Early History of East Grinstead Target Shooting Club
Today East Grinstead Target Shooting Club has its range on the edge of East Court, a park not far from the centre of town. The facilities, which include three ranges, seating areas, a kitchen, and toilets, are the best in the county. But it took many years for this to come to be.
EGTSC started life as the Felbridge Home Guard Rifle Club in 1945 not long after the end of the Second World War. As is evident in the name, its members were primarily those from the local Home Guard units and many other clubs were formed in the same manner at this time. They did not have premises of their own, but did have use of the range at Hobbs Barracks in Lingfield. This lasted until 1948 when a new unit was assigned to the barracks and the privileges for the Club were revoked. For the next two years, club members had to travel to Crawley to shoot their league cards.
Over this period, work started on a purpose-built clubhouse and indoor range. Land for this building was bought on Imberhorne Lane, with the aid of a loan of £1,000, and building was completed in 1950. As the years passed, the facilities struggled to cope with the growing needs of what was now Felbridge and District Rifle Club. In 1965, the land was sold off for industrial development and the funds allocated to building a new clubhouse that would cope with the future needs of the Club.
Lingfield and Dormansland Rifle Club generously offered up free use of their range on Friday and Saturdays nights for Felbridge members and these facilities were used for the next three years. Eighteen months in, after lots of preparatory work, an application for land was sent to the War Memorial Fund and F&DRC was allocated some land on the edge of East Court.
Over the next two years, the current clubhouse was built. At the head of the project was Charles Beard, founder member and Vice-Chairman of the Club. All told, the building effort cost £6,000, significantly reduced by the labour volunteered by Club members that enabled the skilled bricklayers and other professionals to do their jobs faster.
The new clubhouse and 25yd range were officially opened on 25 May 1968, by Geoffrey Johnson-Smith, MP for East Grinstead. In the traditional manner, he took one shot at a target on a gold plate. Prior to taking the shot he warned the club members looking on to be wary of his aim due to lack of experience, then proceeded to score a bull.
In his speech at the ensuing celebration, Gwynn Powell, founder member and Club Chairman, said they hoped to have the outdoor range open within the next 18 months, along with an indoor standing and kneeling range. They duly did so, partially funded by a grant from the Ministry of Education and Science, and again aided by the labour of club members.
(Compiled by Katie Kettle from information in the club archives)