HISTORY OF WALLA WALLA GUN CLUB
Walla Walla Gun Club started out as a group of cavalry NCOs trying their hand at the then-new game of trap shooting. The year is thought to be 1892. Annie Oakley’s exploits with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show were taking the nation by storm, and people everywhere were learning that they, too could hit moving objects with a “scattergun.”
By 1896, the first Walla Walla Gun Club was organized at Fort Walla Walla, and a makeshift trap range was established down by the fort’s dump area. By then, town’s folk had joined the soldiers for some aerial target shooting fun.
Unfortunately, the frontier forts were closed by an act of Congress in 1909. Although Fort Walla Walla lasted until 1911, it was clear that a new venue for the club would have to be found. That new venue was located on Melrose Avenue., about where Clinton Street cuts through now. At that time, the town of Walla Walla was still a goodly distance away.
Sometime in the 1920s, a boom of sorts hit Walla Walla as it did everywhere, as soldiers returning from the “Western Front” in Europe were looking for new frontiers to conquer. Walla Walla expanded greatly during those years, necessitating the club’s move further eastward on Melrose Avenue. The actual spot is now the location of a trailer park.
Another war was just around the corner as the new venue got up and running. By 1942, shotgun shells became unobtainable at retail, and it was feared the club would have to close down for the duration of WWII. As luck would have it, Uncle Sam decided to build an Army Air Force base on the site of the present Walla Walla Airport.
This new base trained bomber crews, and the gunnery crewmen needed to learn how to hit moving targets with firearms. All of a sudden, there were plenty of shotgun shells to be had at Walla Walla Gun Club courtesy of the US Army. While the soldiers weren’t allowed to sell them, enterprising club members were on hand to provide training and assistance to the Army in exchange for a box or two of ammo.
Thus, Walla Walla Gun Club was the only club in Washington State to remain open and functioning during WWII.
After the war, the club’s liaison with the Army was used to gain access to the then-surplus Army Air Force base. Club President Joe Webster and club Secretary H. G. “Andy” Anderson managed to gain a long term lease on about 29 acres of the old base, and moved WWGC to its present location on Middle Waitsburg Road.
The club officially incorporated in 1949 and moved to its new digs in 1950. A few of the old timers still around town were employed as trap boys and roust-abouts.
Today, Walla Walla Gun Club is one of only three trap clubs in the Pacific Northwest that can boast 18 trap fields. We host a number of the largest trap shooting events in the state, including the largest, the Camas Prairie Handicap, each March.
Members today can be sure that they are following in the footsteps of a lot of good people who kept alive the spirit of individualism and firearms ownership that has had a lot to do with making the United States the greatest nation on earth.
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