While the club’s early existence favored and lived by live bird shooting, trapshooting existed from the outset or shortly thereafter as it was entrenched in 1892. As mentioned elsewhere in this narrative, the reporting of some activities, including shooting events, received little priority with club secretaries, and, in most cases, when some name events commenced or terminated is not recorded. In subsequent paragraphs, the following will be covered to the extent permitted by the records: trap layout additions and development, target launching equipment, target and shell prices, club tournaments, open tournaments, discontinued early tournaments, famous trophies on hand, and trivia.
In 1914, the distance between shooting stations was reduced from 15 feet to 12 feet, and, in 1916, the distance was changed from 12 feet to the present 9 foot standard. In 1922, the third traphouse was built, cost was $7.50.
In 1935, a 4 foot concrete walk was poured on the l6-yard line of two layouts. In 1936, 2 foot walkways were “run to the 25 yard mark” with pull houses at 19 and 27 yards. In 1937, two concrete boxes were installed for the 3rd and 4th traps; 4 metal traphouses were installed at a later unknown date.
At the present site, layouts were expanded from 5 to 9 in 1959, and to 10 in 1967. In 1972, expansion to 18 layouts occurred, using the new West side property. Expansion to 22 layouts took place in 1980 and there is no room for further expansion on the present trap line.
In 1900 and 1901, a Mangua trap was rented from the Cleveland Target Co. at $10 per year. Invented in 1897, 1500 were manufactured, and it was the first reasonably successful so-called automatic trap; from a picture of the trap, one would say it was an easy-cocking but not self-loading machine. Target speeds were not uniform and the trap boy could favor the shooter.
In 1906, the Bowron automatic trap was mentioned, followed by the Blackbird trap; in 1908, the Leggett trap appeared in the minutes, followed by the Black Diamond trap.
In 1911, two Western-McRae traps were purchased and a $15 trade-in was received for the Bowron: a doubles attachment was purchased for one of the new traps. In 1937, the purchases of two new Western-McRae traps was authorized and the two old traps were repaired: in 1938, it was stated “buy two new traps”. In 1948, it was noted that two Western-McRae traps should be kept as spares only.
From the early 1940’s until the present time, many purchases of traps were authorized, and brands bought and sold, but the minutes of meetings did not record these transactions in comprehensive detail. At the present time, the club owns 26 Western White Flyer Electric traps for its 22 layouts, plus a Western White Flyer Automatic Electric Trap which is usually installed in a practice field, except at large tournaments. It is club policy to keep extra pull cords in stock at all times for all target launching equipment; also, “engine heaters” are installed on all traps (and skeet equipment) during the cold weather months and no mainspring adjustments are necessary to throw legal targets. The trap houses are never heated, so abrupt changes in day target temperatures are avoided.
The unit price of members’ practice targets have been: 1892 – 2 ¢; 1909 – 1 ¢; 1920 – 1 ½ ¢; 1924 – 1 ½ to 2 ¼ ¢; 1925 – 1 ½ ¢; 1936 – 1 ¢;: 1937 – 1 ½ ¢; 1938 – 1 ¢; 1940 – 1 ½ ¢: 1945 – 2 ¢; 1951 – 2 to 2 ½ ¢; 1953 – 1 ¢; 1956 – 3 ¢; 1968 – 4 to 3 ¢; 1975 – 5 ¢; 1976 – 6 ¢; 1981 – 7 to 8 ¢; 1982 – 8 ¢. Many years ago, at some members’ tournaments, a higher price was paid for the first 50 targets and the balance shot at the regular practice price; first mention of this arrangement was at the Ladies Day shoot in 1935. In 1954, the OPTA paid all expenses and gave the club a very profitable flat rate per target; the idea was never mentioned again in the club records – maybe the incentive to do a good job was lacking.
The following shell prices are interesting 1919 – 75 & 90 ¢ per box; 1925 – $1.15, 1939 – 71 ¼ ¢; 1941 – 85 ¢; 1946 – 85 ¢; 1947 – $1.05 to $1.15, 1948 – $1.32; 1949 – $1.50; 1951 – $1.85 to $2.00; 1956 – $2.50. It is noteworthy that some Shells were available during World War I. In October 1945, the minutes read “shells are expected soon”. Then shooters obtained 50 shells until further notice.
In 1946, a member’s quota was 75 shells per 2 weeks with visitors qualifying for 50 shells, always to be Shot at the club; in 1947. visitors could not buy shells and members could purchase 50 per day. Restrictions were removed in 1948. At the present time, shell prices vary with the source and brand and are priced from $5.50 to $7.25 per box. U.S. imports are hit with the usual Federal tax, plus a dumping surtax, plus the Provincial tax, in addition, the premium on the U.S. dollar has been hovering in the 20% range.
The President vs Vice-president event is the oldest member shoot; it already existed in l883. When clay target shooting was banned in 1942, the event was held at bowling for two years and via a rabbit hunt for one year. Traditionally, the losers have paid all (in the early years) or part of the opponents’ dinner cost after the shoot. When club championships were changed from live bird to clay targets, or how many years they were held at both, is not known. At the present time, annual awards (attractive wall plaques) are presented to
- 16 yard trap champion and 5 class winners, plus Lady & Junior
- Handicap trap champion and 4 yardage winners
- Doubles trap champion and 4 class winners
- Skeet champion and 4 class winners plus Lady & Junior
- International Trench champion and Runner-Up
The Ladies’ Day shoot commenced in 1905 and, occasionally, was not held when club finances were at a low ebb. This was a popular event but was dropped in 1963 in favor of a Ladies’ Nite party – which in turn was discontinued in 1981 as members’ participation was low although outsider attendance was high.
The “youngsters versus oldsters” shoots probably commenced via a challenge in 1937. The event has been re-instated in recent years. Some eligibility ages for oldsters werel 1952 – 48 & over; 1953 – 45; 1957 – 40, 1959 – 41, 1961 – 43, and it is 40 at the present time.
The oldest open tournament is the Good Friday shoot which is reported at live birds in the 1890’s. The first clay target shoot was held in 1904, but was interrupted a few times during the war years. From 1927 to 1929, the shoot was increased to 200 targets (seven 20 target events, two 15 target handicap events and one 15 pairs doubles event), in 1933, this was changed to 150 singles, 50 handicap and 25 pairs doubles – 250 targets. The event was registered in 1937 and reported as non-registered in an earlier year. In 1945, with all supplies at a premium, the event was held at 25 singles and 25 handicap targets with shells “the shooter’s problem”, in 1946, the event was registered.
Worthy of comment are the “Indian” shoots, the first mention of which is in 1911. They apparently held challenge matches with the formal clubs. The Hamil ton Gun Club won their flag in 1915 and, in 1925, the Indians were still challenging for the bunting. The Canadian Indians have brought, and are still bringing, their enthuaiasm, color and good sportsmanship to this club over a great number of years.
The non-registered early January Family Fair shoot was first mentioned in 1960 and 125 shooters attended the following year. About 300 attend this very popular shoot in current years and battling the Winter elements is part of the fun.
The 500 Marathon 16-yard event was held in 1966 for the first time and continues today. It has always been registered.
The club was very active in the Finger Lakes League for a number of years but local interest dwindled and the last event was held here in 1980.
The club has been committed to the further ance of organized registered trapshooting since its early faltering steps in this country. Truly, the Hamilton Gun Club was among the early pioneers of all shotgun sports in Canada.
A visiting ATA vice-president mused in 1980 about the club holding a “Canadian Grand” on a yearly basis. What a fitting way to enter its second century if the idea is feasible!
The following events have faded from the Shoot calendar:
- Braden Handicap
- Syer Mushroom
- Scott Trophy
- Nelson Long Memorial
- Evel Trophy
- Kretschman Handicap
- Jockey Club Hotel Handicap
- Klein & Binkley Handicap
Current annual registered shoots not men tioned earlier are:
- Spring Warm Up
- Doubles Marathon
- Searle Centennial
- OPTA Championships
- OPTA Honor
- Ducks Unlimited
- Club Honor
- National Trapshooting Day
The following beautiful trophies, no longer in competition, are in the clubhouse trophy cabinet:
- A sterling silver challenge belt, presented by J. E. Overholt in 189] for competition among club members. The event has been discontinued since 1920.
- Presented by the Hamilton Target Co. for the January 1896 tournament “Ontario Championship Team Cup” – won by the Hamilton Gun Club.
- Presented by the Dominion Cartridge Co. (predecessor of C-I-L Ammunition) to the Dominion of Canada Trapshooting and Game Protective Association for the 8-man Team Championship. Won by the H.G.C. in 1903 and 1906, Brantford in 1904, and the Stanley Club in 1905. A bit of Canadiana is engraved on the back of the trophy. “Catling Gun” Howard, who demonstrated the famous hand-operated machine gun to the Government forces at the final battle of the Kiel Rebellion (Batoche, Sask.), built the home depicted on the trophy. It was known as the palace for decades to the residents of Brownsburg, Que. and was finally torn down less than 15 years ago.
- Presented by J. Robertaon & Son Limited of Dundee, Scotland to the Hamilton Gun Club.
- Presented by a club member – Thos. Upton Trophy – to the Dominion of Canada Trapshooting Association for the 8-man Team Championship – no date and no winner shown on this lovely trophy.
- The Canadian Bowlers’ Association presented this trophy for the “Gun Club Event” – won by the Hamilton Gun Club in 1908.
- Tray presented by the Citizens of Hamilton to club member who won the silver medal at the 1908 (London, England) Olympic Games.
- Presented by the Buffalo Audubon Club, April 3, 1909, to the Hamilton Gun Club “as a token of our esteem”.
- The Ford Trophy (1919) presented by the Ford Motor Co. (Ford, Ont. ) for “Canadian Amateur Long Run”. Won by Court Thomson (81 L.R.)
Numerous trophies, merchandise prizes and money prizes were donated by members, particularly during the first fifty years of the club’s existence.
Several methods of classification and handicapping were tried, particularly before organized shooting rules were adopted. A popular handicap at clay targets was the allowance of extra targets which had to be hit to be counted.
The following trivia items may be of interest:
- In 1907, a rule was approved “no man to leave squad until last man has shot”.
- In 1929, a member donated four sterling silver trophies to class winners at a shoot.
- In 1935, a challenge board was erected in the clubhouse.
- In 1937, class options were mentioned for the first time.
- In 1941, target pick-up success was such that more targets were thrown than purchased.
- In 1979 and 1980, successful shooting clinics were given by a member of the ATA’s first All-Star team.