Club HistoryLearn the History of Walnut Creek Rifle Club
The Story of Walnut Creek Rifle Club
Written By John Kort – 08/2007
The year was 1934. The country had been recovering from the depression, and now that some folks had a little extra money in their pockets, Bud Anderson, Chuck McClymont, Carl Weinheimer, Joe Wiggins, Roy Stanbro, and Ralph McCrea decided to form a shooting club. Since the property they would use bordered Walnut Creek, they named it the Walnut Creek Rifle Club.
They were given use of the property for target shooting, but before they could use it, they had to clear the brush away at least enough to shoot out to 100 yards. In the beginning, the men competed with each other, shooting the NRA 100 Yard Small Bore Rifle Target from the prone, sitting, kneeling & standing positions with their .22 target rifles.
As time went on, more shooters joined the club but then WWII came along and most of the club members joined the service, which put their competitive shooting on hold for a few years.
On November 12, 1942, the Walnut Creek Rifle Club became officially incorporated. Harry & Josephine Kenyon deeded the property to Walnut Creek Rifle Club on October 24, 1946.
There are a number of trophies in the clubhouse dating back to the 1940s of championships won by the Walnut Creek Rifle team. In the winter, the indoor league used the basement of an ice cream parlor located on Parade street and later used the basement of Herb Gorenflo’s Gun shop located on State Street up until the mid 1950s when the clubhouse was finally built.
Discussion began in the late 1940s on building a clubhouse with a 50ft indoor range. After several years of preparation, construction began in late 1955 and was completed in early 1956 at a cost of $5,000.
The first NRA Sighting-In-Days were held in 1953 and have been every year since.
During Sight-In-Days in 1960, club members sighted in 160 rifles. A Turkey Shoot was also added at that time. WCRC was mentioned in the American Rifleman and also in the PA Game News in an article “Help Em Sight In”. The following year (1961), a Running Deer, a Rising Bear & a Rising Deer target completed the festivities. 45 years later, In 2006, club volunteers checked and sighted in over 600 firearms.
A Junior Division was started in 1957 under the guidance of Claude Hogan, an accomplished Camp Perry Master competitor. 20,000 .22 cartridges were ordered from the DCM (Director of Civilian Marksmanship) along with 8 Remington 531T rifles. It was decided that the club would furnish the ammunition at no charge to the juniors to help promote the program. In 1960, 30,000 additional .22 cartridges were ordered for the Junior shooters from the Letterkenny Arsenal.
Claude Hogan became president in 1958 and remained President for most all of the following 37 years. He passed away in 1997.
Also in 1958, the WCRC Pistol team was formed and entered the Northwestern Pistol League Matches. In March, 1958, construction was started on the outdoor range for .30 Caliber matches which were to be held on Sundays from 1:00-5:00 pm. The target carriers were supplied by the Coast Guard.
Feb. 1959, construction began on the concrete shooting benches. A few years later, a roof covering them was added. By Nov., 1960, the outdoor range facility was almost completed including the 100, 200, & 300 yard shooting positions. Eight M-1 Garands were acquired from the DCM for the .30 Caliber competition. By 1962, 50 turning pistol target carriers were added to the pistol range.
In 1961, the regular membership was $3.00, $4.00 for a Husband & Wife, and $50 for a life membership. A Junior & Senior Rifle Sectional was held. The club name changed to WCR&PC (Walnut Creek Rifle & Pistol Club).
The NRA Sectional National Indoor Rifle Championship was first hosted by Walnut Creek in 1962. This tradition carried on for another 10+ years. Notable Camp Perry National Champions like Lones Wigger competed on the Walnut Creek range.
In 1967, and for the next 6 years straight, the Smallbore rifle A team, led by top shooters Jack Foht, Frank Taylor, Jim Giddings, Dave Hogan, Jerry Matteson along with coach Claude Hogan, dominated the Northwestern Pennsylvania Rifle League, winning 125 straight matches. The team fired their last match in 1980.
The Junior rifle and .30 caliber matches ended by 1967 and the .22 Remington and M-1 Garand rifles were returned to the DCM the following year.
Up until 1970, the club was tax exempt. In 1973, with a declining membership and unpaid taxes, 13 of the then current members loaned the club the money to pay the taxes and to make further range improvements to entice additional potential members.
Over the next several years, the membership steadily increased and in 1980 the membership list contained the names of about 250 members.
In 1982, the target banks were put in for NRA Smallbore Rifle Silhouette and informal shoots were held on Wednesday evenings running from May thru Sept.
On Tuesday evenings, during the winter months, members could shoot on the indoor range. In the mid 1990s, the club purchased some NRA Hunter Pistol Silhouette Targets and the Tuesday evening indoor winter shooters moved outside during the summer to shoot the steel silhouettes. (The steel shoot was discontinued in @ 2014 )
60+ years have passed since our initial incorporation, and today the WCRC has 800+ members. Thanks to their faithful support, the WCRC will continue on for many more years to come.
Our thanks to Bud Anderson, the only surviving founding member for his input on the early history of the club.