During the spring of 1964, a small group of N.R.A. rifle and pistol shooters, tired of being chased out of gravel holes used as shooting ranges, located a piece of property off Route 49, West of Union Road. This gravel hole and surrounding property belonged to the Smith Brothers’ roofing family. A meeting with the Smiths was arranged, and permission to establish a shooting range was granted. By verbal agreement, the founders of the Club agreed to pay the taxes on the land. Consisting of 108 acres, deemed undeveloped wilderness, the taxes were a whopping $1 per acre per year, for a lease price of only $108 per year, which remained for many years to come. These “pioneers” cleared and surveyed the property that is now the 600 yard rifle range. They even hand dug a well to have fresh water to drink. Shooters came from miles around and even from other states to shoot on the range and hold matches. Some shooters even brought empty jugs to fill with the cold fresh water to take home with them. The well pipe is still there, but unfortunately due to vandalism, the well was abandoned.
The original Charter Members of the Cumberland Riflemen were:
- Robert Masilotti – President
- John R. “Bob” Courter – Vice President
- Joseph Martelli – Executive Officer
- Andrew Knoph – Secretary
- Fred Rosi – Corresponding Secretary
- Jack Taylor – Treasurer
- William Otto – Land Excavator
- James F. Lavelle – Instructor
The club held their meetings at the Navy Club and the Elks Club till the building was torn down. Back then, ironing boards were used as shooting benches and the old-fashioned canvas beach chairs were used to park your butt on.
Fred Rosi and other members were able to secure a bunch of 1903 Springfield rifles through the NRA. Some brand new never fired, and some used, for under $20.00 each. The members were also were able to get some Garand M1’s at a steep discount, and 10 1911A1’s free from the NRA for their up and coming pistol team. They also received thousands of round of ammo for free! Unfortunately, due to circumstances, all the rifles and pistols had to be returned. The rifle shooters still banded together but the pistol team was disbanded. A pistol range had been created and there were 20 positions to shoot from. The range even had turning targets on the 25 yard line and stanchions on the 50 yard line. NRA sanctioned matches were held regularly.
The rifle team was huge back then, and you would be hard pressed to find a parking place during a match. Cars were lined up along the entire driveway to the 600-yard range. They filled the area that is now the pistol range and they ran out into the highway. The shooter’s wives sold hot dogs, hamburgers and refreshments too.
Tom Wnorowski re-started the pistol program back in 1991 by putting up a sign asking if there was any interest. He got about 35 responses, mostly from guys who were in their late 60’s and early 70’s. Pistol matches would be filled with 15 or 20 of these guys, all of whom were really good shooters.
They shot 2700 Bullseye matches but Tom could not find anyone to help call the match so he dropped the matches to an 1800. You Bullseye shooters know how grueling a 2700 can be. The bench at the pistol range was wood and a real chore to keep in good repair. It was warped and full of splinters. The wooden legs would rot, and they would replace them with cutoffs from trees. Kenny Hignutt came up with metal for the bench, and the legs are now stainless steel, the top aluminum.