Shooting the breeze for book

Ashburton District Rifle Club members Mike Chui, John Fleming, David Smith, Megan Snowden, John Snowden, Coby Snowden, Les Grimsey and Bruce Horwood with trophies won at the national championships held at Trentham in January. Below, this photo of Ashburton District Rifle Club members (back row from left) T. Duncan, H. Nicolson, J. McKendry, (front from left) M. Lattimore and J. Girvan, was taken in 1958. Photos supplied.

Ashburton District Rifle Club has centenary celebrations planned for the end of the year and the call is out now for stories and photos that can be included in a commemorative book being compiled to help mark and document the impressive milestone.

The rifle club was first known as the Ashburton Defence Rifle Club and held its first shoot on December 10, 1921.

Some 20 men and four rifles lined up at the range off Robinson Street, which is still used today.

The club went into recess during the war years, with rifles confiscated for military use, but was revived again in 1946.

The club’s range was rebuilt in 2016-17 and 25 regular shooters turn out for Sunday afternoon shoots.

The club was one of the first in the country to use electronic targets, which were introduced in 2014.

A gathering and celebration dinner to mark the club’s centenary is planned for December 10 and the following day rifle club members will be out on the range for a special shoot.

Rifle club member Coby Snowden started gathering information for the history book last year and is keen to hear from people with stories, snippets and photos they want to share for the book.

“I’ve compiled a list of officers and trophy winners over the years and we’ve got plenty of photos to pick through.

“I’m after funny stories, fond memories and any other recollections people have from over the decades,” she said.

Mrs Snowden, who enjoys writing, said the club had minute books going back to day one and plenty of clippings.

“I don’t want this to be a boring book. We need the facts and figures, but also the personal stories and recollections as well.”

She said one story she had heard about involved a shooting match against a Canadian team at the West Melton range in 1976.

“The Ashburton boys were invited to join the Canadians at their motel for some Canadian Rye and there was a lot of drinking on both sides before the next day’s shooting.

“The only problem was the drinking was done with the Canadian social team and not its shooters.”

The Ashburton team still got the better of them, she said.

Mrs Snowden is married to Commonwealth Games shooting gold medalist and twice Ballinger Belt winner John, who is also speaking with members and collecting stories and memories for the book.

Anyone with interesting information, photos and historical bits can email to

-By Mick Jensen