A Short History of the North Shore Shield by David Hollister
David Hollister, has kindly helped in re-instating the once highly contested North Shore Shield. In talking to David, I heard of a number of clubs who once competed for this award that are no longer around. I asked David if he would mind writing a short piece on this history, to which he kindly agreed. Below is his recount - special thanks to David for this:
In early 1960, Frank Andrews, who was Manly club’s secretary, arranged a meeting with delegates from Mosman-Neutral Bay, Hornsby and North Sydney clubs with the idea of arranging an inter-club competition. After a series of meetings the format for the competition was ratified and the matches commenced either in that year or in 1961. The perpetual trophy was donated by Mr. C. Howard Cromack, the president of Mosman-Neutral Bay. This trophy, known as The North Shore Shield, can be seen today displayed in Manly’s clubhouse.
The six clubs based on Sydney’s north-side each shot two at-home and two away matches throughout the year to an arranged calendar according to each club’s shooting night. The shooting distance was originally 25yds, initially two 10 shot cards were fired, and after 1966 when the new outward gauging cards were introduced, one 20 shot card.
The format for the evening was the shoot followed by supper, which was provided by the host club. Six shooters comprised a team from each side, but the top four scores were totalled. There was an annual shield presentation night which was well attended.
In the early days the clubs competing were Hornsby, North Sydney, Manly and Mosman-Neutral Bay. Later there was the addition of CSIRO and with the disbanding of Hornsby club in the early 70s, North Rocks joined the circle and later still, Swiss.
Hornsby club shot at Barker College, on the cadet range. I can remember seeing this range from the train when travelling to school along the Northern Line. There was a clubhouse with the firing point outside and a road crossing the range! Russell Dove used to be a member of Hornsby but just a few years before.
Later, Hornsby club left the Barker range and organised its shooting at St Ives shopping centre. In those days there was no late-night shopping and hence no parked cars. They boasted having the world’s only indoor 100yd range! However we only shot at 25yds but it would have been nice to have tested the wind-free atmosphere at 100yds.
Mosman-Neutral Bay’s facilities were no less public. Their range was in the asphalt playground of Neutral Bay Public School on Ben Boyd Road! The target equipment was stored in an outdoor cupboard, and the range could be quickly set up with lighting and a lamp to aid target scoring. Ian Young, Graeme Berman, Ray Franklin and Frank McDermott were their top shooters. In the mid 1960s the club moved from the school to Manly, where it shoots today. Maris Taylor can remember shooting in the Shield in later times.
Manly club possessed a fine 50m range and clubhouse, but mostly it was the 25yd mound that was used. Jack Astley was always the one to beat whether at home or away. Jack fired the tiniest groups imaginable with Eley Match, (or Hundred as it was then). Jack’s group sizes didn’t get any larger at 50m! Clive Halnan was a Manly member too and is now the club’s president. Paul Heintzberger, who now shoots fullbore with Roseville, was a member of Manly also.
The carpark at Manly was close to the butts, and upon departing, one’s car would be found splattered with lead fragments. Also, from time to time the nearby creek flooded and filled the clubhouse with water, postponing all shooting.
CSIRO was always an interesting club to visit. Their range was at North Ryde under one of the lab buildings. Sometimes we were taken on a tour of the facilities. I can remember one night being bitten by a white rat and suspected all kinds of dreadful diseases. John Boss was the one we always associated with CSIRO. He had a finger missing from one hand and somehow worked this into his many jokes. Their club must have folded in the late 60s as I can remember John later shooting with North Sydney .
North Rocks was a later entrant into the shield but we enjoyed the journey to North Rocks Rd to shoot on their range. In the 1950s Don Tolhurst used to train there in the open before there was a covered firing point. He would hold his rifle in the standing position for hours in all weathers, never ever giving up.
Swiss club shot on Manly’s range as they do today. Their driving force was Urban Gmur, who sadly passed away some years ago. Tom Hall, whom I remember well from the early days of the Swiss club came along to the most recent of the revived shoots.
North Sydney club shot in the fullbore club’s hut on Hornsby range. The building was constructed from two army huts brought from Bathurst and provided for five targets at 25yds. The backstop was ¼” plate with railway sleepers behind. Eventually the bullets worked their way through and exited the building, but this wasn’t taken too seriously. Occasionally we rigged lighting on the fullbore range and shot at 50m and 100yds. The bullets buzzed off merrily from the 700yd mound into the darkness.
In 1974 a 50m range was constructed and quite possibly at this time the Shield changed to a 50m event. Recently Rod Sampson, who was a North Sydney member from 1965 and also its president, gave me a detailed score book he had kept for the year 1971. On North Sydney’s team was John Javes, Bill Angel, Len Latours, Max Dick (Cheryee was there but didn’t yet shoot) and Bob Strang, who celebrated his 93rd birthday in May.
Shooting was always close in North Sydney’s indoor range. One night Jack Astley scored a 200.20, which would be equivalent to a 200 on the present 20m target. 198 and above was generally regarded as a satisfactory score, as it is today. BSA MK11s were the rifles to aspire to, but just a few Anschutz and the odd Walther were beginning to appear in the mid 60s. Ammunition could be ex-military MK11 (with a green tinge), copper-cased Lapua, R50, Pennant, Western MK111 or Winchester EZXS. Eley Hundred came along a bit later at $1.10 per box and then Tenex appeared at the dizzy price of $1.50!
The last Shield match was a 60 shot event at North Sydney in the 1980s with all clubs attending. This proved to be an unpopular format and the Shield lapsed….
Until this year!