A Brief History
- 1925 – Beloit Rifle Club is chartered – meetings held at Jones Hardware at the corner of 4th and Grand and featuring a 50 foot shooting range
- 1927 – Affiliated with the National Rifle Association
- 1930 – Meetings moved to Grinell Hall
- 1949 – Meetings moved to former Besley Wells plant on 3rd Street
- 1968 – Initial land purchased on Philhower Road
- 1974 – Purchase of second parcel on Philhower Road
- 2001 – Purchase of parcel behind current range
- 2004 – Opened the Cowboy Action Range on the back range
- 2011 – Completely upgraded the Main Range to “No Blue Sky” Safety Range
- 2014 – Opened the new 100 yard “No Blue Sky” range on the back range
- 2015 – Opened the new 200 yard and 500 meter “No Blue Sky” range on the back range
Beloit Rifle Club
Then and Now
In the aftermath of the first World War, returning servicemen, retaining a wish to continue their skills in marksmanship, acted on that wish with the organization of The American Legion Rifle Club.
In that period of time, Jones’s Hardware Store, on the comer of 4th Street and Grand Avenue in Beloit, sported a 50ft. indoor range. The club shot .22 caliber rifles in this basement range, first as entertainment, and later in competition.
In 1925, The American Legion Rifle Club applied for and received a charter, changing the name to The Beloit Rifle Club. Two years later, on July 25th, 1927, the club affiliated with the National Rifle Association.
From this early beginning, the members began a stepping stone search for quarters. For a time, a clothing and leather factory (later the city street car barns) served their needs, then in the mid to late thirties, the club was quartered in Grinnell Hall. The 18 marksmen peering out of this 1939 Grinnell photo includes some of the original members.
As 1940 rolled around, the action moved again from the Grinnell Hall, to the former Besley Wells plant on Third Street in what is now a Beloit Corporation engineering building. Later, the Beloit High School range offered a temporary stop until in 1950 the basement range in the Izaak Walton clubhouse on Walton Lane became available. During those years the club competed_.in area matches and often returned with top honors.
Finally, in 1969, the club found its Val Halla in the purchase of 20 acres of land, including a former gravel pit on Philhower Road, and has, in the intervening years, developed one of the finest Midwest facilities. Today, the club owns 24 acres of land, and can boast ten separate ranges, providing a shooting discipline for nearly every interest.
Such was not the case in 1969 and for a period of time, a log on what is now referred to as the general range, served as a marker for shooting positions.
With the passage of time the club has grown in stature and sophistication, progressing from meetings held in members’ homes to the organized meetings now conducted in the clubhouse. Therein lies an interesting story. In 1969 Charles “Chuck” Fenske, serving on the County Parks Board, managed to acquire for the club, a two-holer outhouse from Sweet Allen Park near the small town of Shopiere. That building, with some reservation, was alternately used as a warming house, a target shed, and in effect, the first clubhouse. That same white shed could until recently be seen in back of the trap range and had once again served as a target storage.
From dreams to reality often seems an eternity, but in 1971, the Beloit Rifle Club began construction on a 1260 square foot meeting place to be known as the Keough House and by 1973, had completed an overhead canopy on the general range. Expanding membership (now 150) generated a need for more space, and in 1975, two more parcels of land were purchased from the City of Beloit.
The quest for extended range facilities continued, and in 1977 an indoor pistol range was added to the west end of the clubhouse. By 1980, the meeting house, now a complete entity, boasted running water, a modern kitchen, a heating system and indoor restrooms. In 1998, the Highpower group got their long-awaited wish with the construction of a new 100-yard range. Today, with membership approaching 700, Upgrade and Maintain are key words. Dreams do become reality with dedication and perseverance. The Beloit Rifle Club, in 1985, made its final payment on the land and now proudly owns the 24 acres, all the buildings and all of the range equipment.