History of the Chippewa Rifle Club by Nelson Berger

The Club had a very humble beginning. In the fall of 1952, Kenny and Harold Adams
and Walt and Nelson Berger decided to go deer hunting in PA. We each had a rifle we
felt would be OK for the trip but needed a place to sight in and do a little practicing.
Many years prior, a local stream had been dredged with the dirt being piled along the
stream bed. We contacted a local fanner to see if we could shoot into the dirt pile.
Permission was granted. The trip to PA was made but no deer were shot.
During the winter of 1953, it was decided among the four of us that a rifle club should be
organized. In March, 1954 a meeting was held including a number of interested shooters
at which Nelson Berger was elected president and Kenny Adams secretary. Membership
dues would be one dollar annually and by invitation. Match fee to be one dollar. A
portion of the land mentioned above was leased from the owner permitting us to fire
matches at 100 and 200 yards. The match schedule called for both prone and bench rest
matches. The first benches were very crude by today’s standard but they served the initial
purpose. The Club was named The Chippewa Rifle Club for obvious reasons. It was
located in Chippewa Township, Wayne County, Ohio and along a stream named
Chippewa Creek. The Club’s first match was fired on April 25, 1954 with 26 shooters
participating with a variety of rifles used in the prone match.
At the Club business meeting in the late winter of 1955, it was decided to incorporate the
Club as a non-profit organization. At the end of year 1955 the membership was 80. A
mix of prone and bench rest matches continued. On October 21, 1956, an invitational
bench rest match was held with well known shooters such as, George and Bernice
McMullen, O.A.Rinehart, Harold Haynam, “Cowboy” Rucker and H.R. LaChat in
attendance. The match consisted of five 10 shot targets at 100 yards. Nineteen shooters
participated with Bernice McMullen winning with an aggregate of .590″.
The Club decided to hold its first NBRSA registered match. This presented a problem as
a moving backer was required. No electricity was available and portable generators were
not available as is today. Someone saw a small rotisserie motor advertised which used
two “D” flashlight batteries. One was purchased. The gear mechanism from a “Big Ben”
alarm clock was attached to reduce the RPM. The whole mechanism fit on a board about
10″ x 12″. A roll of brown wrapping paper was positioned at one end of the target
frame, stretched behind the frame and attached to the “motor”. This would unwrap and
pull the paper during the firing time. Crude, but never we not able to account for all shots
fired. Match entry fee was $3.00 for NBRSA shooters and $4.00 for non-members. The
match was fired on June 23, 1957 with 19 shooters. Five 10 shot matches were fired at
100 and 200 yards. A second registered match was held in August of the year. In 1962 the club held the Eastern Region Champion shoot for light and heavy varmint rifles and
the Sporter class. In 1963 a backstop was installed at 300 meters and a 200 yd. & 300
meter registered match was fired. In 1968 the Club stopped holding prone matches and carried a class known as “Hunter Bench Rest” and shot for score. In November of this year, Bob Pease from Meadville, PA brought nine shooters with him to compete against the Chippewa shooters. This was the very beginning of what turned out to be the Transcontinental League. Bob Pease is to be credited with the forming of the league. The PA and Ohio boys competed against each other on several occasions. In 1970 the Club membership was just two short of 300.
In October, 1975 the Chippewa Club rifle range was to be no more. Once again the
stream mentioned above was being dredged and this removed two benches along with
opening the range into another farmer’s field which created an unsafe situation. The
possibility of purchasing property for a new rifle range was started. People are not eager
to sell property for rifle ranges. For the 1976 season George Kelbly offered the use of his
range for the Club matches. This was greatly appreciated as it kept the Club together.
Persistence paid off as we were able to purchase 14 acres (another six has since been
purchased) just a “long stone’s throw” from the original site. The Club feels fortunate
that the property in what is declared a “flood plain” which zoning does not permit any
residential building in the area During the summer of 1978 construction W1iS started on
building the new range. Much of the work was volunteer labor. A firing line of 40
covered benches was built with loading area the benches. Target frames were
built at 50, 100 and 200 yards. A target frame is located at 300 yards which can be used
by the first four benches. The Club matches began during 1979. Throughout the last
several decades Club membership has averaged about 250 members just wanting a safe
place to fire a variety of rifles. In 2003 a 24′ x 40′ building for storage and loading was

As the name implies, it is a rifle range and no other type of firearms are permitted. Club
matches are held frequently during the summer months. Several types of rifles are
recognized so that every shooter is competing against like rifles for season trophies.
Non-members are welcome at the matches.

The Club is governed by democratic principles. The officers consist of a President, vice
President, Secretary/Treasurer and four trustees. All are elected annually. Voting
privileges are given to anyone who has been a member for at least two years and the right
to seek election to one of the offices. Even though the range is designated the “Nelson
Berger Range”, the range does not belong to any individual. In case of dissolution of the
Club as a Non-Profit Corporation, all property of the Club shall be sold or disposed of in
such manner as the Board of Trustees may determine. After the payment of all debts of
the Club, any money or property remaining shall be divided equally among those
members of the Club who have been in good standing for five consecutive years past.

May all rifle clubs experience the co-operation, co-ordination and support from its
members as has The Chippewa Rifle Club during its many years of existence.