History of the Rotorua Pistol Club
How it all Started:
In about 1972, shortly after pistol shooting became legal in NZ, a group of enthusiasts from the Bay of Plenty District got together and formed the Rotorua Pistol Club. In spite of limitations on what could be done, it was an exciting time, single shot .22 pistols were the only pistols permitted at the start. A temporary range was started in Sala St, but this was not used for long. Air pistol was shot in our then President Roy Lyme’s workshop with keen members coming from around the Bay of Plenty.
An approach to the NZ Forest Service as it was called at the time, saw the start of outdoor shooting. This took place at the beginning of Mead Road, only 2kms of where our range is situated now at the Te Wairoa Valley. It was very temporary, a few months later the club found ourselves allocated a licence for a spot where RPC range is today.
The First Matches:
A lot of work by foundation members went into getting the range set up for the UIT matches, Standard, Centrefire and Free Pistol, this was done on what is Range 3 as the facility stands today. All these matches were keenly contested at every opportunity by all the then members.
In 1976 the Australian match, Service Pistol, was approved for club shooting in N.Z. It was immensely popular. Club members were allowed to use a holster to carry an unloaded pistol.
The late 70’s and 80’s saw a huge increase in the types of matches being allowed by NZ Pistol Association after being ratified by NZ Police and the Rotorua Club was at the forefront. The American Silhouette shooting became popular and RPC hosted many national events over the years.
In 1986 Action Shooting (as it was then known, today as IPSC) became the matches everyone wanted to complete in. Sid Foot and Ron Milne became the clubs first holster instructors, it was busy times as all members wanted to be part of the exciting new Action shooting matches. To do this each shooter had to be holster qualified, much the same as it is today. The early rules for action shooting were of mix of mainly American matches, but as matches developed throughout the world they became known as what we shoot today, NRA, Steel Challenge, IPSC and 3-Gun, with the Service Pistol also being altered to allow a loaded and holstered pistol.
With the invent of action shooting came the need for more ranges, Don Perry had joined the club a couple of year earlier and was determined to see the club have a second range to enable Action Shooting matches to be run at the Club. Supplying all the concrete blocks and spending all his free time leveled an area for the ranges and where the first wall was built, 50 meters long (this is the wall that separates range 2 & 3 as it is today). From that point onwards range development never really stopped until the club ended up with 11 Ranges, this enabled RPC to run some big matches and it was where most IPSC and Speed Shooting Nationals matches where run up to the late 90’s.
Over the next decade the club only seemed to meander along, some disciplines in pistol shooting were dying, silhouette had stopped being shot completely at the club, NRA matches had all but stopped being shot, membership had dropped to below thirty, the facilities where run down and the club seemed destined to the scrap heap.
In 2009, after a ten year sabbatical Don Perry entered the scene again, and changes were immediate. There was a resurgence in membership, the committee changed with new blood and a discussion was made by the then committee to host the 2013 Australasian IPSC Pistol Championships, Level IV International Match. In making this discussion the committee knew that the range facility needed to be rebuild from the ground up, a minimum of 24 ranges was required, club rooms, new toilets facilities, stats office, kitchen, the existing range buildings needed upgrading, medic room, a workshop building and the 2km road into the Club grounds badly needed upgrading, all this just to name a few of the many things that had to be done in just three odd years.
With a pro-active committee along with the special help from Greg Dickson who had the same desires to see the club achieve a facility second to none, providing all the heavy equipment needed, RPC not only accomplished everything it set out to do, but ended up with 33 ranges and without doubt the best range facilities in the Southern Hemisphere but also, one of only a hand full of top range facilities in the world.
RPC is flourishing, membership is up, we continue to upgrade our facilities, the club is strong and has a bright future running many national and major events again along with innovative ideas in getting people to shot events and have fun doing it.