WAPA celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2019.
Collector of WAPA history Julie Aitken from Koorda gave a presentation to the Annual General Meeting about the early days of pistol shooting in WA. Here are a some brief excerpts from her presentation:
It all began when the 1956 Olympic Games was awarded to Melbourne and as the time approached the International Olympic Committee was concerned that there was no organization in Australia to administer the sport of Pistol Shooting. Consequently Bob Morgan from Tasmania and George Rogers from Victoria inaugurated the Amateur Pistol Shooting Union of Australia on 16 June 1956, just a few months before the games started. There were two pistol matches in the Olympic schedule at that time, 25m rapid fire and 50m free pistol.
Locally, in 1958 Dennis Todd from the smallbore rifle club in Fremantle decided it was time to get a pistol club started in WA. It was discovered that a Dr John W Thornton already held a pistol licence solely for the purpose of target shooting, so he was contacted and duly invited to be the first president. On the 5th July 1958 a meeting was held in the Fremantle Town Hall and the No. 1 Fremantle Pistol Club was born. The members took turns to shoot Dr Thornton’s pistol (a heavy centrefire revolver) which is still owned by a Cockburn Fremantle member. In Jan 1959 the Perth Pistol Club was created.
On 5th May 1959 these two clubs got together to create the West Australian Pistol Association. Eight days later the Northam Pistol Club was formed. In June a club was formed in Albany and by September there was also Bunbury and Collie. The rapid growth of the sport had begun. Dr Thornton remained as President until 1971. He fostered a longstanding relationship between WAPA and the Police Firearms Branch. The first state champs were held at Bushmead in November 1960 in 50m slow fire. There were 59 entries received from Perth, Fremantle, Collie, Northam, Bunbury and Goomalling clubs. Within a few years there were four events – rapidfire, free pistol, centrefire and ladies match.
By 1984 WAPA had 109 clubs and 2000 members. This was the heyday of WAPA. In the first 14 years of competing at the National Champs, WA achieved 6 new national records. In our first 20 years we had 105 individual members compete for WA in the state team and 15% of those represented Australia.
It is hoped to publish more of the history of WAPA, our clubs and our members on this page. Club stories and photographs are invited to share our wonderful history.
A list of the WAPA Office Bearers from the first 60 years are in the attached file.
Here are some brief club histories. Feel free to send your club’s history to WAPA and have it available for others to read.