Northcote Rifle Club's earliest photograph

It comes as a surprise to most visitors to find an operating rifle range that is just five kilometres from the Melbourne CBD, or that our club is over 100 years old. The most frequent comment we get, even from our neighbours is, ‘We didn’t know you were still alive!’ Our covered range doesn’t reveal much from the outside, so their comments are understandable. Even in the quiet evenings on club nights, the sound of rifle fire doesn’t carry far beyond the range walls.

It all began on the 7th March 1911, when the Mayor of Northcote fired the first shot signifying that the club was officially open. The event was attended by over 100 members and invited guests. The 25 yard range featured 2-travelling target changers and was originally located in Roberts Street, Northcote under the eastern embankment of High Street. In 1925, the members built a new range and moved to our current site next to the Merri Station in Bridge Street, Northcote.

Most of our members competed in two disciplines:

  1. Fullbore or .303” calibre was shot at outdoor events. The target distances varied from 300 to 900 yards. These events were usually held on weekends.
  2. Smallbore or miniature rifle events were shot with a .22” calibre rifle. The 25 yard targets could be shot at home during the week, but longer 50 and 100 yard distances were shot at outdoor weekend venues.

Northcote Rifle Club 1951-52 pennant team During World War II, fullbore competitions were suspended for the duration in order to supply ammunition to the forces. Smallbore shooting continued as it was seen as a training aid for home defence.

After World War II, the sport was very popular and due to their numbers, both men and women competed separately. They travelled extensively and took part in many shoulder to shoulder competitions throughout the state. In 1957, all of the club’s shooting disciplines were again merged under the original club name – Northcote Rifle Club.

The social component of the club also played a big part and the club was open every evening. Organised events such as dances, picnics, ‘smoke nights’ and picture nights were held regularly. A piano, billiard table and a wireless were provided for other forms of relaxation.

Technology, time and customs may have changed and we have seen numerous cycles of popularity and decline, yet each time our club has survived.

In an instant world, this sport will not appeal to those looking for quick results. Target shooting is a challenging sport. It depends on you; it can be just an enjoyable recreation or a serious competitive sport if you have dedication and determination to achieve your set goals.

Each year we enter teams in state competitions. Although we don’t always win, we have had our fair share. Members are encouraged to enter as many competitions as they can, as this helps them to strive for improvement.

New members are always welcome and Northcote Rifle Club looks forward with confidence at the commencement of its second century!