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Happy 75th to the Upper Perkiomen Sportsmen’s Association
Written by Larry Roeder, Editor
2017-02-22

Clair Fox, who has been president of the Upper Perkiomen Sportsmen's Association since 1998, stands next to historical photographs on display in the clubhouse.

        This history of the Sportsmen's Association was contributed by Paul Decker, Director of Historical Information for Red Hill, to help present the group's history as it marks its three-quarters-of-a-century milestone.

        The Upper Perkiomen Sportsmen's Association, Inc. (UPSA) is celebrating its 75th Anniversary this year. It is a vibrant organization of men and women who enjoy the shooting sports, and it is an integral part of the community.

        The association is an outgrowth of the Red Hill Gun Club, founded in 1910 and the Upper Perkiomen Valley Fish, Game and Forestry Association of the 1930s. The organizations formed The Upper Perkiomen Sportsmen's Association in 1942.

        The association incorporated in 1947, and at that time, purchased 6.5 acres of land from Charles Bitting to build what is the nucleus of the current clubhouse. The early efforts of the association included replenishing the stock of small game and fish in the Upper Perkiomen area. Consignments of fish were brought in from state hatcheries, in addition to rabbits and pheasants from state game farms. From time to time rabbits were also purchased by the association and shipped here from the Midwest and released.

        In addition to the clubhouse, there were facilities for trap shooting, a rifle range, a picnic area and an enclosed game refuge. An early decision by the membership was to install lighting for night shoots and, as one of the first clubs in the Commonwealth to do so, it helped the organization to become very popular among trap shooters.

        Membership grew to about 650 people from Eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. In addition to lighting, other improvements included new auto angling traps that flung clay targets at 72 different angles and cement walks for the shooters. The clubhouse was eventually expanded to include a kitchen, workshop and porch area. Later, a garage was added to store equipment and supplies. Additional land was purchased to increase the association grounds to 10.5 acres.

        American Trapshooting Association (ATA) shoots were run by the UPSA from 1947 until 1981, when interest in trap shooting declined. At the same time, primitive black powder shooting competitions were becoming very popular.  Not missing a beat, the UPSA formed a Black Powder Committee and held its first scheduled shoots in 1982. For the next 20 years, these shoots helped the association remain an active organization.

All things have their life cycles. Soon black powder started to fade in popularity while oddly, at the same time, interest in trap shooting made a resurgence in the area.

        At the turn of the millennium, trap shoots at UPSA were reintroduced in conjunction with the Montgomery County Federation Winter League, and regularly scheduled shoots resumed.  Black powder shoots were finally discontinued in 2002.

        During these cycles, the UPSA continually maintained rifle and pistol ranges for the members, as well as for use by constables and the local police departments, which at one time totaled five different departments. Correspondingly, the association kept pace with the interest in archery, developing a range to accommodate the members who pursued that discipline.

        Over the years the UPSA always maintained an interest in the youth of the Upper Perkiomen Valley.  Since the association's focus is not only on competitive shooting but also wildlife conservation, programs were developed for boys and girls in the safe handling of firearms, conservation and safety in the field. 

The efforts of UPSA began informally. Eventually, the National Rifle Association (NRA) Safe Hunter Program was adopted, followed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission Hunter Education Program. Several club members became both NRA Certified Firearms Instructors, as well as Certified PA Game Commission Instructors in order to provide the best possible youth programs.

        Realizing the significance of their efforts, these instructors reached out to the Upper Perkiomen Middle School, which at one time included Hunter Safety and safe handling of firearms as part of its Science Curriculum; American Legion Post 184; East Greenville; Perkiomen Masonic Lodge 595; and Red Hill. They also taught at the Camp Delmont Scout Reservation.

        For a brief period, a separate Trapper Education Program was introduced by the state as a new requirement to obtain a trapper's license.  Once more, in the interest of conservation, the UPSA stepped forward and a Certified Trapper Education Program was offered by the club. Eventually, trapper education was incorporated into the Hunter Education Program.

        This program  was revised several more times to also include  Archery, Black Powder Arms, a special emphasis on Turkey Hunting Safety and, lastly, Basic First Aid – all requiring extensive additional training by the club's instructors.

        With the expansion of the program and time constraints, education of the boys and girls in the handing and shooting of firearms diminished, resulting in the discontinuance of shooting as part of the course. The revisions in the state program also left little or no time for Wildlife Study.

        In today's  Hunter-Trapper Education course, as it is now called, all firearms  used during instruction are rendered inert and at no time do students  even handle the deactivated firearms.

        The hours of the course in the classroom have been scaled back, with the initial part of the course now studied by the students at home on their computers prior to attending the class. You will note the transition from the usage of the term "boys and girls" to the word "students."

        Today, the UPSA Certified Instructors are educating many adults, as well, due to the current requirement that all first time hunters, regardless of age, must show proof of hunter-trapper education. In addition, many other states require any non-resident hunter to provide proof of hunter safety education from their home state. The UPSA remains a partner with Perkiomen Masonic Lodge 595, Red Hill, in offering the current Hunter-Trapper Education training program.

        In 2017, UPSA continues to be a gathering place of men and women interested in the shooting sports and wildlife conservation and currently has approximately 350 members.

        UPSA is a member of the Montgomery County Federation of Sportsmen, the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs, the NRA, and is an American Trapshooting Association-accredited club.

        The current trap shooting programs include a shoot the first Sunday of each month, periodic scheduled evening shoots and novice trap shooting clinics during the summer months. UPSA also hosts scheduled Federation Shoots. In 2016, UPSA added a picnic pavilion to its facilities to accommodate its ever expanding programs.

        Other club activities include, but are not limited to, the collection of food for The Open Link in Pennsburg; support to Vets for Vets, also in Pennsburg; an annual Car Show in the fall; and support to the Red Hill Fire Company. Not to be forgotten is the club's breakfast, open to the public, on the second Monday of each month.

        After 75 successful years of existence, the Upper Perkiomen Sportsmen's Association continues to progress and adapt to the ever-changing needs of the shooting sports and wildlife conservation.

        It looks to the future in anticipation of celebrating a century of being a part of the lifestyle of the Upper Perkiomen Valley.


 

 

 

 

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