The club was founded in 1928 as a ‘miniature rifle’ club (.22LR) and apart from an enforced closure during WW2, shooting has continued uninterrupted ever since. In September 1942, the club wisely refused an offer from the Army to buy its two rifles and in 1948 the club acquired the use of the ex-Home Guard range at Barnwell. Two years later the current design of the club badge was adopted; the shield and diamonds motif being based upon the heraldic arms of St Wilfred, who is closely associated with the ancient history of Oundle in Northamptonshire.
As the years passed, the club progressed with much success in the various NSRA and County level leagues. Key contributors to club affairs and also successful competitors were the late Les Titman, Club Secretary for an incredible 45 years, together with the late Eric Cotton who was appointed President in 1971.
A separate pistol section was formed in 1964 and within a year ORPC was ranked third in a league of twelve competing clubs. At this time the membership roll was 27 strong, rising to 70 in 1970. By 1972 annual subs had risen to the princely sum of £4.00 per annum. In 1979 the club was featured in the first issue of ‘Target Gun’. This was prior to the opening of the second indoor range, proudly equipped with Olympic standard turning targets. The new range which was a major project for a small club, was part financed by fund-raising events + a £15 levy on members.
Following the 1997 pistol ban, the Oundle range was re-certified for pistol-caliber rifle shooting. Likewise the Barnwell range was re-certified to facilitate full-bore shooting throughout the year. A 6 x station turning-target mechanism was installed in 2008 and disciplines were extended to include Target and Practical Shotgun.
By 2008, membership had risen to around 250 and weekend sessions at Barnwell had become overcrowded, particularly on the 100 yard range. With the addition of turning targets on the 50 yard range, this exacerbated the situation. Accordingly at the 2008 AGM, a proposal for a new 50 & 100 yard firing point was submitted to ameliorate these problems. The final design raised the new firing point above ground level and was designed to provide a separate area for shooting and a holding area for those waiting to shoot. The design incorporated a disabled access ramp and a paved parking area.
A grant of £52,500 was obtained from Sport England in December 2011, which together with club reserve funds, supplemented by a contribution of £5,000 from the Cambridgeshire Police Tactical Firearms Unit, was sufficient to meet the estimated sum required [ca.£100,000]. In 2009 and in preparation for the construction of the new Barnwell firing point, the Oundle range was completely re-roofed and the club-room refurbished. Additionally the ranges were fully relined & soundproofed in 2014.
Demolition of the old Barnwell firing points took place in February 2012 and the steel frame building was completed 4 months later. The range was formally opened June 9th by Club President David Belcher in the presence of club members, Barnwell Parish Council, Oundle Town Council, the Tactical Firearms Units of Cambridgeshire & Northamptonshire and Sport England. There followed a “walk-about” inspection and a celebration hog roast.
In 2012 – 13, Oundle Town Council announced plans to sell off the Drill Hall with its associated rifle ranges. Pending negotiations and as a contingency, it was decided to construct an enlarged 25m firing point at Barnwell with an adjoining club-room. It was designed and built entirely by club members, with the aid of a further grant of £50,000 from Sport England. The building was commissioned April 11th 2015 and provides all modern amenities. The new facilities at Barnwell are amongst the best in the country and continue to attract new members across many counties. Current membership as of January 2017 stands at 425 members.
With a healthy membership roll of active shooters, the club continues to cater for most types of target related shooting needs. There is much success in competition, especially in rim-fire and air rifle disciplines with benchrest shooting also becoming popular. It is heartening to note that despite increasingly stringent legislation to control and effectively restrict private firearms ownership in the UK, the club continues to thrive. With the continuing commitment and support of our members, it is with optimism that we look forward to celebrating the ORPC Centenary in 2028.