Marshall Gaudreault has set his sights on bringing more families to the Forest Grove & District Rod and Gun Club.
Gaudreault, 82, said he would like to draw more South Cariboo youth to the club, which has been running since 1935. Not only is it a safe pastime, he said, but he can’t wait for the day when they can once again hold group BBQs, dinner dances and potluck game banquets – even though game is becoming scarcer every day.
The group also trap shoots twice a month, starting in the spring. In trap shooting, targets are launched from a single “house” or machine, generally away from the shooter.
“In this town, there’s not much for (youth) to do. It would be nice to have target shoot days,” said Gaudreault, who recently retired as president of the club. “The important thing here is to educate people that the word gun is not a dirty word. It’s very safe. Most kids who try it, like it.”
Gaudreault should know, having shot his first gun at age six or seven. After that, he went on to hone his skills to become a longtime hunter. When he moved to the South Cariboo in 2012, he joined the Rod & Gun club, which at that time “had kind of lost favour.”
Two years later, when the then-president decided to step down, Gaudreault found himself at the helm – partly because nobody else was willing to volunteer. A “Virgo by nature,” Gaudreault said he set about turning the club around. Except for one year, he has been president of the club since 2014 until retiring this year.
He credits the Cariboo Regional District and Chair Margo Wagner – also the director for Canim Lake-Forest Grove – for providing grants to keep the club afloat, and the community for its support. When he first joined, there were about 35 members. Today, there are about 120 who come to shoot on the range, located at 4385 Canim-Hendrix Road.
Memberships are reasonable, at $60 per single or $85 per family.
“It’s a passion for me. I’ve been shooting all my life,” Gaudreault said. “I wanted everything to be nice so I started calling work bees. It’s so gratifying because it’s a nice group of people. When we put a bulletin out for work bees, people show up with their tools. They know it’s a growing club and they want to see it grow.”
Over the years, the club’s improvements have ranged from removing the old stumps where they used to put their spent shells and installing new ground posts, painting the front side of the shooting gallery and adding new target stands at the 25-yard range for handgun practice as well as at the 50, 100, 150 and 200-year range targets.
The group is currently working on a new clubhouse, slated to be done next month, which will give them a place to meet and “chitchat between trap shoots.” It would also be a big draw for new families, he said, because it will have modern amenities such as a flush toilet. In the past women would come out but not stick around because they were not big fans of the outhouse.
Gaudreault said he twigged to the need of making the range more family-friendly last summer when a woman called to ask if she was welcome to come out. When he said the range was open to anyone, she asked what she should wear and shoot.
“Everyone thinks it’s a men’s club,” he said. “I told her to come here in jeans and with Grandpa’s old double-barrel. We’re here to have fun.”
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the website at fgrrodandgun.ca