Walcha history: Marksmen claim trophies

Steady hands: A good turnout at the Round Swamp Rifle Range.
Steady hands: A good turnout at the Round Swamp Rifle Range.

The Walcha and District Rifle Club reformed in February, 1947. Major Shepherd of the Defence Dept. visited soon afterwards to inspect the range site between Langford and Greenwells, which had been pegged out for shooting distances from 300 yards to 1000 yards in 100-yard increments. Major Shepherd gave his approval and said the enrolled members could purchase .303 rifles for £4 each and also that the army would lend suitable target frames.

In October, 1947, Walcha and Wollomombi were invited to join the Armidale and District Union of Rifle Clubs, which they did. A few weeks later Walcha had its first post-war interclub match when its members travelled to Uralla for a day’s shooting.

One of the most popular events of the period was the quarterly competition held at Armidale for the Centenary Shield and P.A. Wright Cup. Walcha was the holder of both trophies on many occasions, often with good margins.

The Uralla Times of December 1, 1949 said: “Owing to the difficulty experienced in reaching its range in wet weather, the Walcha Rifle Club has selected a new site on which to erect a range. It was found that it was cheaper to erect a new range than to make a road to the present one.”

The new site was about 3½ miles west of Walcha on T.C. Bath’s Gola property.

One of Walcha’s best-performed marksmen, Jack Cutler, travelled to Armidale to coach the TAS shooting teams. During 1958 the boys from TAS attended a 500-yard practice shoot at Walcha. In October of that year the Cutler boys, John and Graeme then 17 and 15 years old respectively, were members of the team that saw Armidale win the Buchanan Shield at the GPS annual shoot at Sydney’s Long Bay Rifle Range.

The Walcha News of October 2, 1958, said: “The whole of the Cutler family attended the shoot to give moral support to the boys. None was more pleased than expert rifleman, grandfather Bill, who said the boys do show some promise!”

The Walcha Rifle Club shot regularly into the 1970s but has now been disbanded for forty years or more.