By Fred Gunnell
The first organized Gun Club in the Cedar Springs area was identified as it is today: The Cedar Springs Red Flannel Rod and Gun Club. It has been very active around Cedar Springs for nearly 70 years providing community service in a wide range of activities.
The very first meeting of the club was in June 1952. Having no clubhouse, the members received permission from the school officials of the time to meet in a room at Hilltop School. Later, they met for some time in the new elementary addition of Hilltop. Several other buildings were utilized as meeting places during the early years of the club’s existence. The local police department provided its facility, which at the time was near the flowing well (at Maple and Main Street) and has now been demolished. The community building (at Elm and 2nd and now also gone) was also utilized for some time.
The first members, though small in number, 10-12 at best, worked diligently developing a set of bylaws that worked well for the times, and in fact, are still in place, although several amendments have been added to fit current times. The first set of bylaws was a page and a half, and the updated version is now many pages in length. A sign of the times, I suppose.
The first few members were Jim Townes, Ed Townes, Bob Townes, Fritz Townes, and Harold Brigham. Sometime later Randy Ream, Jerry Hall and Don Boezwinkle joined the club. Many others have been added to the roster over the years, but these three took on major leadership roles and continue to do so today. Other club members also provide leadership on special projects from time to time, which helps provide continuity in the activities of the club. Today club membership is about 70, and yes, we do have female members, thankfully.
As time went by, the club obtained the property on 18 Mile it is now housed on. With the help of Ed Townes and others, we were able to purchase 24-acres and later an additional eight acres for a total of 32 acres, according to Bob Townes. Ed Townes purchased some of this property for $700. The club paid him back $100 a year at 6 percent interest until the loan was paid off.
The original structure used for the clubhouse was moved there by the members and was 24 X 24 feet. Later a new clubhouse was built from trees on the property. Several club members convinced the city council to give the stone foundation of the demolished GR&I Railroad Station to the club and they constructed a fireplace from it. It was a labor of love and nice addition to the clubhouse.
As time went by, shooting ranges were added, a moving deer target, turkey shoot area and a trap house, which was a major project. An indoor archery range is now in place and used by many.
The club members have frequently volunteered their time and brawn for community projects, such as building cupboards, painting, and installing all the kitchen equipment in the community building.
For decades the club has been involved in and supported the Red Flannel Festival, and has also helped support organizations such as Little League, AYSO Soccer, Red Flannel Queen Scholarships, Tracks Magazine for CS fifth graders, Sportsmen Against Hunger, the Senior All Night party, and many other special requests.
On the Sunday following Red Flannel Day, the Queen and court are hosted at the club for a light lunch. An opportunity is offered to shoot some trap, and try their luck at the rifle and pistol ranges, and learn bow shooting. Safe use of the shooting devices is always covered, and the girls have proven to be attentive listeners and very accurate shooters.
At one time, the club had a fishing weekend for boys and girls on Cedar Creek, to teach kids how to fish. Ray Gordon, a civil engineer, showed the club members how to successfully dam up the creek from Main Street to just west of the flowing well drain pipe, so that the planted trout could not leave the stream until they were caught by the kids.
One of the largest events sponsored by the gun club is the yearly dream gun banquet. It’s open to all members and their families and the public at large. Attendees must purchase a yearly subscription of $90, and add another $20 for the banquet. Several hundred outdoor items are given out at the dinner as door prizes, and raffle tickets are sold for other prizes as well.
If one is interested in this gala event, seek out a member to purchase a subscription. Those interested in becoming a club member must be sponsored by another club member. Visitors are welcome at all regular meetings on the second Wednesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. Call 696-3711 for more info.