The St. Thomas Gun Club has had a long and varied history. In the late 1800s, the Club shot on the creek flats at the west end of Talbot Street, down the hill from the former site of a Fina gasoline station. At that time, the targets used were live pigeons and glass balls filled with feathers.
A Gathering of Marksmen in 1897.
For a short time, there was a Gun Club at the corner of First Ave. and Elm St. It was located West of the grand stands near the race track in what we believe to be the old Fair Grounds.
In 1914, the present Club was established in Pinafore Park. Several of the early Amateur Trapshooting Association of America Shoots were held at that location.
In 1927, the St. Thomas Gun Club was host for the second Annual Grand international Tournament. With the onset of World War 2 and the subsequent ammunition shortages and military involvement of some members, the Club was terminated.
In 1948, the Gun Club was re-established by Lorne Smith, the owner of Crocker Dairy.
Cowan Park had been left to the City of St. Thomas by the David Cowan estate, and since one of the terms of the will had required that the property be used exclusively for recreational purposes. Mayor Bruce Caldwell and Alderman Jack Handford felt that a swampy area at the east end of the park might meet the Club’s needs, and, in addition, assist with meeting the recreational terms of the will.
The swampy land was filled and levelled largely through the efforts of Lorne Smith, who was still an active Club member at age 85. Ultimately, the Gun Club was established with four traps and a skeet layout.
The club house was newly constructed in 1951, and the skeet houses were purchased as scrap from the Fingal Air Force training base.
The Club was incorporated in 1952.
In 1974, the traps were expanded from four to ten, to meet increased attendance at the Shoots. These were relocated partially on the Club’s 7.7 acres that had been purchased in 1969.
In 1975, the Secretary-Treasurer for twenty years and the man most responsible for the success and growth of the Club in recent years, Mr. George McAteer, died.
At various times during the Club’s history, gun safety and hunter training courses have been taught. The Club held the first certified shotgun safety class In Canada. Terry Jordan of St. Thomas, the 1979 Provincial Trapshooting Handicap Champion, is a product of one of these safety courses.
The St. Thomas Gun Club is the second largest in Ontario. Currently, the Club holds three Registered Shoots each year on the Victoria Day, Civic Holiday, and Labour Day weekends. These Shoots attract over 500 competitors (plus families) from all parts of Ontario, as well as from Quebec, Michigan, and New York. All scores are included in the official records of the A.T.A. (Amateur Trapshooting Association) in Vandalia, Ohio, where the Grand American Trapshoot is held each August, with over 4,000 participants from all areas of North America.
The St. Thomas Gun Club is open on Saturdays at 1pm from mid-September to mid-April.
At present, we participate in a Winter & Summer lnterclub with 4 other area Trap clubs.
Several Provincial Championships have been held at the club, and in June of 2003 the Club played host to the Canadian Championships once again in 2011 and 2019.
Provincial Championships have continued to be held with The St. Thomas Gun Club as the host; recently this past summer 2021.