“As I sit down to fulfill the obligation of recording our club’s history for our web page, it is more of a task than I originally thought. I had intended to rely on some minutes that were kept in a book and stored in our trophy cabinet over the years. Alas, it has gone missing and I shall have to rely on memory and recall the past as best I can, from my many years as a member and the stories that were passed onto me by the “old timers” of years gone by.
“Our club was founded in 1919 with the purchase of considerable acreage on Dawson Road. The property was purchased from the St. Boniface Catholic Parish and in 1957 was sold to Canadian National Railways and today is the location of their Symington fast freight yards. I remember reading the original minutes of the first general meeting held in 1919 and the phrase “The meeting was held in Mr.White’s well appointed store” has forever been implanted in my memory. The club was incorporated in 1939. The club property became to be known as the Dawson Road Range.
“Our present location [¼ section] on Miller Road was purchased from a retiring farmer in 1958. The shooting berms were built and subsequently the potholes out back have created our duck nesting ponds and mosquito hatcheries. In 1961, we purchased a prefab home to replace the old farm house to house our caretaker. It might be of interest to some that our first caretaker on the old Dawson Road Range, was Ernie Apskrum, later the first owner of Ernie’s Gun Shop in St. Boniface.
“The Dawson Road Range was the site of many shooting competitions and in 1935 the first Manitoba Provincial Handgun Championships were sponsored by the club and have continued to be ever since. It has traditionally been held over the Labour Day weekend. Many of the old trophies reveal that the format of the competitions has changed considerably over the years.
“Through the late 1940s and into the early -60s the championships was based on the standard American course of fire, a total 1800 point aggregate for .22 calibre and Centre Fire Pistol. In the early 60s the addition of .45ACP pistol matches were added and since that time the Provincial championships have been based on a three gun 2700 point aggregate. Also in the 60s International style shooting was added to our program. For shooters with the ilk for bullseye shooting its a big event with over 570 rounds fired by each individual entering the full program, over the weekend. Spectators are welcome at anytime during these competitions.
“In 1964, the city of Winnipeg was awarded the 1967 Pan American Games and we offered our facility as the location for the shooting sports (Rifle and Handgun). The Trap and Skeet events were held at the Winnipeg Trap and Skeet Club’s range on Highway 3. Our property was greatly enhanced for these Games. The current indoor range was an armory and each country had an individual room. In 1968, we started the construction of our indoor range in that building, which has really become the life line of our club,(inspite of our extensive outdoor facilities) with our typically long Manitoba winters. Its a great place to gather and shoot.
“Over the years our association has hosted or provided our ranges for significant shooting matches such as, the 1967 and 1999 Pan Am Games, Western Canada Games, National and Provincial Handgun and Small Bore Rifle Championships and in 2002 The North American Indigenous Games shooting events.
“While we are first and foremost a handgun club, over the years we have included black powder muzzle loading shooting and the sponsorship of matches for same. We have the honor of being able to rent our facilities annually to the Manitoba Provincial Small Bore Rifle Association, The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, The Manitoba Department of Natural Resources and other shooting clubs for one day events.
“Our membership as a whole are proud of our association’s long history of competitive shooting and the many fine marksman and women champions that have called the WRPA home.”
As recalled in 2003 by Barry W. Pearson (deceased), then President