Annual General Meeting of Fort Frances Sportsmen’s Club

By Henry Miller
Special to the Times

On October 2, the Fort Frances Sportsmen’s Club held its first in-person meeting since the onset of COVID-19.

In spite of the threat of rain, members met outside on the Club’s property. These men and women are outdoor people, so a little rain does not faze them. They have endured extreme weather conditions many times. Some have shivered for hours on a deer stand in -20 to -30 degrees. Others have trudged through snow-covered conifers, shrugging off the snow down their necks as they tracked a moose, and in late fall, those hardy duck hunters, covered with icy water, have driven their boats through the waves on Rainy Lake to reach their favourite hunting spot. To them, a little rain is just an inconvenience.

So Brad Houghton called the meeting to order. (He did glance at the clouds.)

After leading the conservation pledge, he reviewed the work the Board of Directors and volunteers have done to maintain and improve the Club over the past two years.

In 2019 and 2020, 129 books of Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) tickets were sold. Profits were donated to the Northwestern Ontario Elk Coalition.

In 2019, the ranges were inspected by the Chief Firearms Office and was approved. A few minor changes were made.

The handgun range has been re-certified to a 50 yard range and now includes not only .22 rifle, but also allows for carbine/rifle pistol calibres.

Many improvements have been made to all ranges. Signage on both ranges has been posted. Benches for the pistol range have been installed and new uprights have been repaired.

The Club now offers a Handgun Range Safety Course and a Use of Holster Course. A variety of provincial and federal employees are using the range. Many are taking these courses and some of them have joined the club. This allows them to practice shooting duty firearms on their own time instead of during mandatory training shoots.

The archery ranges were being used on a weekly basis by dedicated members.

Skeet shooting continued to be a popular activity, although the numbers of shooters was reduced because of COVID-19.

Youth activities and school programs were cancelled. Bluebird Trails continued to be monitored.

The Club made donations to: Murray English of the Elk Coalition; Atikokan Sportsmen’s Club in support of their fisheries project; the Rainy River District Stewardship Council in support of their tree project at Crossroads School; and the Canadian Coalition of Firearms Rights in support of their legal battle regarding Bill C-71.

After Brad’s report, Crystal Gray, secretary treasurer, gave an exceptionally detailed financial report which showed a modest profit for the year.

Since it has brightened up and no rain is coming down, we’ll take a moment to mention that Crystal was awarded the Brad Cyr Trophy, which is given to a person in the club that has done conservation or has done exceptional work for the Club. She qualifies for the latter as she looked after the OFAH Lottery tickets, edited the Annual Report (2019), looked after the finances and took over as secretary.

Now, new business.

In reference to the gun ranges, it is important to sign in if you use the ranges. The pistol range will be enlarged in the near future and new cement pads at 100 yards on the rifle range will be put in.

The possibility of erecting a roof above the benches was discussed. Some members thought it would be noisy while shooting, while others suggested that styrofoam bubbles inserted under the roof would absorb much of the sound. No decision was arrived at and will be discussed by the Board later.

The Club welcomes the publicity the Fort Frances Times has given to skeet shooting, and is especially indebted to Ted Brockie for providing pictures and information about skeet shooting.

Membership fees have increased as follows:

Family: $120 with magazine, $95 without magazine

Single adult: $110 with magazine, $85 without magazine

Besides contributing to conservation projects as previously mentioned, the Club will continue with the bluebird project, although they may have to find someone to monitor the houses in a few years.

The “Seeds for Bees” project, which was initiated last year, will continue. The club has wildflower seeds to give to anyone interested in planting them.

Much work has been done by the Board of Directors over the last two years. Thanks to the members: Brad Houghton, Chris Bonner-Vickers, Crystal Gray, Zac Manty, Kerri Harper, Martin Kellar, Marc-André​ Michon, Chris Pollard, Dirk Crans, Travis McIntrye, Chad Buist and Blair Beadow.