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The club started back in the early 1970's when a group of local Frome shooters decided that Pistol shooting was a lot more attractive that rifles. They formed a break-away club that, in 1973 officially became FDPC.
The early 'base' was Hapsford range - an indoor 25M small-bore range located just outside Frome. This already hosted local rifle shooters ( such as the "New Frome Quarry Shooting Club") and thus was an ideal location to start. Mondays and Fridays, the 3 lane range was constantly in use; the club had a number of 22 pistols and in those days, 22 ammo was about £1.20 / box of 50.
Additionally, full bore pistol shooting was expanding; the club shot at Military ranges such as X, Y and Z ranges at Warminster, and thus started to develop some of the club competitions we still shoot today (such as the Hendy Aggregate).
Finally, a few members also continued to shoot rifles (inc semi-auto FB rifles !) and although limited, larger capacity shotguns.
It was the combination of Pistol, Rifle and Shotgun that led to the development of the early 3-Gun matches. Held on No 6 Battle range at Heytesbury (in those days, range hire of a full 'no back stop danger area' range cost the club a couple of carefully selected bottles of Malt Whisky), this was the ultimate 3-Gun challenge match - often pulling in over 150 entrants. In parallel - with the emergence from the USA of Practical and 1500 disciplines - the club developed other matches (such as the Transvaal) at these ranges - again, hugely popular.
Within 10 years, the club was a major force in local shooting, with membership approaching 250. The search was on for a permanent home where the club could expand and host multiple competitions. Gurney Slade - a disussed quarry - was the selected location, and in 1986, work began on turning a hole in the ground into a superb 25 and 50 M range complex. Despite the banning of all semi-auto FB rifles in 1987 (after the Hungerford incident), the club continued to flourish, shooting at Gurney Slade and Hapsford.
The club continued to expand and in the 'Golden years' of the 1990's, FDPC hosted all sorts of National events. However, in 1997 another tradegy (Dunblane) saw the banning of FB Pistols, then subsequently SB pistols. The club had a choice - fold or change. Some did just give up - their love of pistols could not be replaced. However, whilst maintaining the 'Pistol' name ( they couldn't take that away), the club diversified and continued under the emerging banner of the Gallery Rifle disciplines. The National Pistol Association (NPA) folded; Sebastion Coe (at the time NPA President) scurried away so he wasn't tainted by the Pistol scandal, and shooting moved under the collective body of the NRA.
In late 1998, Hapsford was also under threat. Eventually, that closed and the club was forced to find another location for evening shooting. We first moved to the ARC Pigeon Hut, where we continued with Air Pistol Shooting, until we were able to secure a night in the old Singer's Range in Frome. Despite only being a two lane 25M small-bore range, the club was able to maintain an evening venue - probably heped by the wide range of real ales available in the Singer's Social club next door. Unfortunately, Singers also closed and by 2000, we were back shooting Air Pistol at the Frome Scout Hut, two evenings a week. In Aug 2001, we were able to restore our indoor 22 shooting with a move to the ACF at Frome - where we continued to shoot for some 15 years.
In parallel to our small-bore saga, our 14 year tenure of Gurney Slade was under threat - the owners wanted to re-start quarrying and compared to the small income from FDPC, this was big business. On 25th Nov 2001, Gurney Slade closed - we were again homeless and back shooting at MOD ranges (plus the ACF). However, planning work had already begun on a replacement; Wanstrow provided a brown field site that could accomodate both indoor and outdoor ranges, plus clay shooting and a club house. The planning process proved complex and slow - multiple surveys, site visits and document submissions followed.
In 2002, two new relationships were established - with Bristol & District, and with Midsomer Norton. Whilst FDPC were homeless, both clubs agreed to hire us range space; FDPC continued to put on a full range of range dates and competitions for its membership. And, in an effort to maintain a National FDPC presence, the 3-Gun match was resurrected (carbine, 22 rifle and PSG) with a 10 year stretch of succesful and very popular matches, run at Shield.
In Apr 2003, the new range was debated by the Mendip planning committee. This resulted in the plans being withdrawn for further presentation and a number of surveys were completed (sound, environmental etc). Mitigation plans were prepared and the case would go back to Mendip. Continuing to maintain our 'National' presence, in Oct 2004, the first new era Western Winner 1500 was staged at B&D. The growing demand for GR events around the country placed FDPC well to manage what effectivelly is now seen as the West Country Championship Event.
In August 2007, the Wanstrow planning application was finally considered by Mendip. Despite clear evidence to the contrary, the application was refused on the grounds of likely noise (amongst other things). It took another two years and a public enquiry to eventually gain planning permission - only granted on appeal in late 2009. However, work on the site began in 2010 (there was an official 'Turf Cutting' ceremony in May 2011) - and continues to this day at a slow pace. Due to ongoing issues with dumping - it may turn into a range at some point in the future.
In 2013, the club celebrated it's 40th birthday. Over 40 years, FDPC has no doubt touched several thousand's of peoples lives - be they shooters, family, officials and local businesses. We've lost most of the original cast, but gained a lot more. We've seen a huge change in firearms legistlation; we've also been forced to move a number of times, so we are used to adapting to new environments and challenges.
On July 31st 2016, the club opened a new chapter in it's history. Anglo ranges at Shepton Mallet saw the opening shots (by NRA Chairman, John Webster). A new, permanent home for FDPC, after 14 years of searching. More importantly, we've maintained the good name of FDPC in the shooting community, and given days / weeks / years of pleasure to many. At the end of the day, we're all here to shoot and have fun. That's the one thing FDPC does very well !!
Most of the above is drawn from my memory and documents I have, from over 30 years in the club. However, if anyone has more info / significant events / dates that can add to the story - please e-mail me. - Ashley
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