Nauset Rod and Gun Club was the brain-child of a young man from Connecticut by the name of Ed Milliken. He organized a group of local sportsmen in 1947 and the idea was really rolling by 1948. Meetings wer held in the homes of some of the members. The aims of the club were the “promotion of conservation, sportsmanship and safety in handling firearms.”
One of the clubs first projects was the construction of a trap house to be built from the wheelhouse from the wreck of the Cape Ann. Permission was obtained to place this on town owned land west of what is now Ocean View Drive. The first slate of officers was:
President: Ed Milliken, Treasurer: Tom Hayes, Steward: Robert Wiles, Asst. Steward: Bill Sturtevant, Secretary: Robert Wiles,
Master at Arms: Dick Brewer
The next important action taken by the club was the purchase of 4 lots from the town for firing ranges, accomplished by Lou Benner and other trustees of the club, on a deed dated February 1949. The late Maurice Wiley, then Selectman, was very instrumental in this transaction. The first ranges on the club land were a 100 yard rifle range and a 25 yard pistol range, built mostly with muscle and sweat using axes and shovels. The pistol range fired across a gully, and a causeway was built by Art Benner using an appropriated farm tractor. These first ranges were jewels and provided many hours of enjoyment for local shooters.
The club continued to grow in the 50’s, in the 60’s another group called Manamoit Sportsmen’s Association formed and initiated “Crazy Quail.” This group occupied Nauset’s property for a few years, but with the serious anti-gun movement of the late 60’s it seemed to be a good time to organize the sportsmen. Under the leadership of local gun shop owner Al Sheppard and Dr. Reginald Raddin, the new organization was formed, retaining the name of Nauset Rod and Gun Club primarily because the ranges were recorded in that name.
Along about 1970 the town wished to buy back the four lots owned by the club in order to consolidate town owned property and the club began searching for another piece of land. The hardening pit owned by Nathan Nickerson and sons became our next and present range. Additionally the club was given an adjacent lot owned by the Nate Clark family.
A range planning committee was established consisting of Dick Kmiec, Tom Foley, Art Stewart, Lou Benner, Art Benner and Chief Jerry Edmond. The first ranges to be developed were a skeet field and Crazy Quail on the east, a 200 yard rifle range on the west and a 45 yard police regulation range in the center, running north and south. Because the police range extended beyond the club owned land, a special permit was required from the National Seashore. This procedure consumed a lot of time but was eventually finalized.
The need for electric power became the next priority. Once an underground cable was decided upon, Jack Curtiss graciously advanced the funds necessary for this project and made the early use of the skeet fields possible.
About this time rumors began to circulate that the National Seashore planned to condemn all the land not already held by the seashore. At that point, the Club members decided to approach the town about taking ownership of the ranges, and at a special Town Meeting this was accomplished. It proved to be a very wise move.
The next important event was the acquisition of the club house. President Chris Frye made the Club an offer they couldn’t refuse on a house he was moving out of an existing development. The project became a rel comedy of errors, but as the saying goes “all’s well that ends well”. When the house was moved from Brewster to the new foundation, there were some red faces when it became apparent that the building was two feet shorter than the foundation. carpenters with Montville Builders simply added on the 2 feet making room for the stairs. A few years later rumor hinted the club received the wrong house.
Through the years the club has participated in many beneficial programs. Maintaining herring runs, running fishing derbies, Mass. conservation camp, providing safety training for various police departments, running hunter safety courses and feeding of waterfowl are a few. additionally, many contributions have been made to civic organizations and to legislative funds in the interest of promoting shooting.
Much credit must be given to the many volunteers who have contributed time, money and material. Two members of the original club are still on the rolls, they are Dick Brewer and Lou Benner. Special thanks to the following, Jack Curtiss, Art Benner, Art Chapman, Mr. and Mrs. George Bengyfield, Mr. and Mrs. Art Swenson, and all those others, always a small nucleus, who by their hard work and diligence have developed an organization we can all be proud of.
The club at present is enjoying its best period of harmony and prosperity since its beginning. Always known as a ‘shooting club” the ranges are the envy of all who visit them. Our safety record of over 55 years without a single accident speaks for itself. Thanks to all our members who have pulled together to make this possible.
In the 90’s decade additions were made to the range’s equipment. Sporting clays were added, a shelter over the pistol firing line and the 200 yard rifle line were constructed. A new safe for the skeet fields to secure the ammunition and shotguns. A dumpster for trash was contracted for. Also the road has been improved to an extent that an occasional treatment with a shovel is all that is needed.
Above Prepared by Louis A. Benner from revised history and by-laws 2000