BAIE VERTE, NL — Murray Burton took a shot at forming a rod and gun club in Baie Verte about three years ago and is now on the verge of making it happen.
The White Bay Rod and Gun Club is a registered organization already, with that distinction being secured about six months ago, according to its founder.
There are also about 50 potential members waiting for final approval to occupy a piece of land about 100 feet by 160 feet across from the former Advocate Mines on Highway 410. The land for the shooting range is the most significant part of the process and has been a long time in the works, said Burton.
The Baie Verte man – an avid hunter and shooter – said final approval for the land is in the hands of the Department of Fisheries and Land Resources, which handles matters involving Crown Lands. He said the club is waiting on a permit from the department allowing the organization to occupy the parcel of land, which will eventually house infrastructure such as targets essential for a shooting range.
There was a rod and gun club in the area years ago, but not since the 1990s, Burton estimates. He considers it a valuable asset for an area with so many hunters and marksmen.
“Like in every area, people who have their moose licence don’t have anywhere to go and fire off their gun in a safe manner,” he said. “Everything is just haphazard when it comes to firearms. Somebody could be in the woods on bike or quad, and people could be shooting off bullets here and there.
“This would be under a safe and controlled environment, monitored by the RCMP too.”
It would not only be a place to sight-in guns and practice shooting, but a rod and gun club typically holds shooting competitions as well. The RCMP could also utilize the facility, he said.
In the early stages of trying to establish an organization, Burton said there was a lot of interest. He went about finding a suitable piece of land, something outside residential areas and large enough to house a shooting range.
Burton said the organization had to pay Corner Brook Pulp and Paper compensation for loss of productive harvesting area. The club ended up paying $2,990 for the land – a substantially lower payment than the original $28,000-asking price.
“I battled that,” he said. “I asked how they could charge a non-profit organization – which is not even started up and don’t have any money in the bank – 28 grand.
“I didn’t feel like going out and soliciting members and getting their money with no land to actually develop,” said Burton. “It takes a long time for this to come to fruition anyway. It has to be done on a step-by-step process, and you can’t put the cart before the horse.”
Burton said he is about 99 per cent sure the land will be approved – he’s hoping it is just a matter of a signature.
The operation would be a spring to fall venture given its dependence on weather, and hopefully ready for this spring. Burton expects to advertise the club and recruit members once the land is acquired and ready for use.
The Nor’wester contacted the Department of Fisheries and Land Resources to determine the status of the application. A spokesperson said the department is unable to comment on the status of applications.