St. John's Rod and Gun Club Activities 2021 (80 Photos)
2021 didn't start off on a good foot at the club as the executive and I had to make the unfortunate decision to temporarily shut down all ranges to remain compliant with renewed Covid Pandemic restrictions issued by public health here in the province.
In addition to working with public health officials to create a plan for the club based on new restrictions (which were different than those in the same level last year) I had to physically drive out to the club and post signage then change the gate combinations.
The tool for changing the combination locks was in the clubhouse which unfortunately was blocked in with densely drifted snow. I nearly stuck the truck but luckily stopped in time to carefully reverse out hassle free.
As you can see in the background the entire rest of the road was near perfectly clear.
My mark was still in the snow when our snow clearing contractor Wayne Healy plowed out the club a few days later!
Range closures were short lived and we began our reopening process as soon as we were allowed, developing a revised Covid action plan which adhered to public heath directives. At the end of April I visited the club to create a list of tasks for our upcoming cleanup day. The rifle range needed quite a bit of repair in addition to the regular backstop reshaping and rock picking. Posts were in hard shape on the 50m with one post completely missing.
The 100m had quite a bit of damage from winter storms and would need a couple post holders reinstalled.
This was mostly due to soft ground caused by flooding which was in turn caused by this drainage ditch becoming filled in.
The 200m wasn't too bad but would be rebuilt and repaired as necessary on cleanup day.
We still have a decent stock of building materials on site which should see us through summer.
Profile on the backstops is still at an acceptable height and girth which is important to keep in check at the club so we remain compliant with range regulations.
Finally we will do some brush clearing to improve the sight lines to the 200m target stand.
In May we were able to hold our annual clean up day grouping people of the same bubble together to compete tasks all around the club. We had junior members raking down rocks on our backstops working in conjunction with our heavy equipment operator to remove these ricochet hazards from the range.
I designed, printed and replaced these important missing signs on the main rifle range, a project I was happy to complete with Sandra and I's new vinyl plotter.
Brass buckets disappeared or were broken over the winter so I picked up fresh ones at the hardware store.
A small but dedicated group of volunteers assisted me in rebuilding all the damaged target stands on the main rifle range. Some post holders had to be dug out and reset, most of the uprights replaced and we finished the job with new horizontals and fresh chloroplast.
Another group of volunteers cleaned up the clay target storage building to make room for our upcoming clay target delivery.
In June Bassan and I began our summer of lawn care at the club by cutting & trimming the grass, then spreading lime and fertilizer.
Midway through June our first clay target order since 2019 arrived at the club directly from White Flyer.
We had a bunch of volunteers on hand as some targets were hand loaded into the Sporting Clays shed and the old generator shed.
We had a donation for the use of a tele-handler for unloading the tractor trailer which was operated at no charge by a certified club member. This made the job a little faster by moving full pallets and was definitely a lot easier.
Lime and fertilizer made the grass at the club look beautiful but it's a lot of work to keep it trimmed. Of course we don't have a long (or even a short) list of volunteers to come out and help.
Having been unable to hold our annual youth shooting skills event last year due to the pandemic, we were pleased to once again partner with NL Wildlife Division and hold the event (albeit much smaller) this year. July 11th saw 25 youth (half the normal number of participants) partake in shotgun & rifle shooting, fly fishing and archery during the one day event.
It was quite rainy in the morning, but that didn't dampen spirits, thankfully the weather cleared off in the afternoon finishing out the already great day on an even higher note.
In August we began stage 2 of our trap field rehabilitation program. This year we are replacing the severely depilated concrete walkways on two more trap fields which will bring the total number of renovated fields to 3 out of 4 complete.
The walkways re-used the same concrete forms we built last year and once again were fitted with reinforcing steel mesh and rebar all properly tied together. Poor quality ground (which caused most of the problems for the old walkways) was excavated and replaced with the proper amount of crushed stone.
On this particular work evening the sky grew ominous as we completed our tasks. We had a few sprinkles of rain at the club but we were quite surprised to drive into a torrential downpour on the drive home! Apparently the intense rainstorm just missed the club!
Work on the 2nd trap field began near the end of August after the first one was complete.
Meanwhile I took on the project of replacing two seriously dilapidated wooden outhouses near the rifle range. Having priced out varying options I recommended to the executive to purchase two port-o-potties and convert them into permanently installed outhouses. They agreed so we ordered one standard unit and one wheelchair accessible unit.
We had our contractor (who was already on site for the trap field work) supply and install two 36"x60" plastic culverts in two locations that I selected equidistant and opposite ranges A-B-C. The area was then backfilled and a concrete pad poured over top using cement left over from each of the trap field construction projects. This will provide a strong unmoveable permanent base on which to mount the new units.
New unit test fitted.
I used my top handle chain saw to cut out the bottom of the tank in each port-o-pottie which coincides with the hole in the concrete and buried plastic culvert. This means these units will NOT have to be continually pumped out at significant reoccurring expense.
The new unit was permanently bolted in place with proper 1/2" concrete anchors, this will ensure that they can't be knocked over and keeps the unit inline with the underground tank. The new units are a huge upgrade over the old wooden outhouses. They are clean, bright, should last virtually forever and will be easy to keep clean compared to a traditional wooden unit.
I have better pictures of the process installing the 2nd outhouse!
This wheelchair accessible unit has been welcomed by all members of the club as we work to improve accessibility at our facility. This unit was attached to the concrete base using over a dozen 1/4" concrete fasteners, our contractor supplied and installed final grading on both outhouses so now there is no step up onto the concrete pad.
In September we faced the onslaught of Hurricane Larry which made landfall as a Category 1 storm. The club fared very well with no damage to club buildings or infrastructure. We experienced a few downed trees, some toppled sporting clays stations, toppled garbage cans and our dumpster was pushed back over 3'!
In mid September the final steps of this years trap field rehabilitation were completed which included backfilling with topsoil and having hydro seed applied. We also installed a large boulder prominently on the trap field which will hold a memorial plaque.
The clubhouse and grounds are now looking better than ever thanks to the continuing hard work of a small but dedicated hardworking group of volunteers across the club.
In mid October we had a unique opportunity to promote the Rod and Gun Club, Hunting Ethics, and responsible firearms ownership as we filmed an episode of Griff's Great Canadian Adventure. This show will air on Channel 4 in the UK and BBC First here in Canada in the new year.
Both my Silverado and project 6x6 made starring appearances as host Griffith Rhys Jones wanted to drive a big American truck and we took him on a simulated hunting adventure in the Argo.
Our club, Newfoundlanders and hunters were very well represented by Taylor Reid, an avid outdoor enthusiast and hunting guide. She has also made appearances in a number of other projects filmed in the province including an episode of CBC's Land and Sea.
My final project at the Club for 2021 was a simple service on our Kubota 15kw Generator. Normally we require 2-3 services per year, but with Covid activities requiring power were greatly reduced. With oil and filters changed and winter fuel stabilizer added to the tank our Generator is ready for winter!
Copyright © 2011 Michael Smith