The Hopedale Pistol and Rifle Club
Hopedale Pistol Club History
HOPEDALE - On Nov. 26, 1937, 10 men met in the Community House for the purpose of forming a
pistol club. The club objective was to encourage revolver and pistol shooting. Madison H. Goff was
elected president and Burleigh W. Lapworth was elected secretary.
A shooting range with four alleys of 25-foot range, was constructed in the basement of John A. Bell's
barn. [The 1939 town directory lists John A. Bell as living at 83 Mendon Street.] A small but faithful
group enjoyed many evenings there. Later five alleys of 60-foot range were constructed in the
basement of the old stable of Hopedale Coal & Ice Co. More people became interested and through
persistent efforts of a few members, the club prospered. A few matches with out-of-town clubs were
Due to the war, club activity was discontinued until Sept. 25, 1947, when a meeting was held in the
new range with President Goff in charge. The building is owned by the Draper Corp. and rented to the
club. It is made of cinder blocks and is 125 feet long, 25 feet wide, and contains six shooting positions
with a 50 and 60 foot range. (The article doesn't mention it, but this would be the building near the
highway barn.) The fluorescent lighting arrangements were designed by the University of Maryland
especially for shooting ranges. In addition to the range, there is a clubroom and an observation
window, 15 feet by 30 inches, for spectators. Heat is furnished from the Draper Corp. central heating
Open house was held Oct. 8, 9, and 10. People came from near and far and were favorably
impressed with the set-up. About this time several ladies developed an interest in shooting. As a
result of this, today some of the ladies' scores rate higher than their husbands. Monday and
Wednesday nights are reserved for rifle shooting, and Tuesday and Thursday nights are reserved for
pistol shooting. Friday is an open night.
On April 28, 1948, Mr. Goff retired after serving as president for several years. Charles Watson
became president. Much activity took place with Tri-State shoot, matches with other clubs, and many
holiday parties. The club is affiliated with N.R.A. and has recently received its charter. This year's
activities open with dinner and annual meeting at Chicken Pete's, Sept. 28. Milford Daily News,
September 14, 1949
Skeet Shooting in Hopedale
In November 2006, I was talking to Arnold Nealley, often a good source of information on Hopedale
years ago. He mentioned a skeet range that used to be in Hopedale, so I asked a few questions, took
some notes, and here's what I have on it.
Arnold was a member of the Maspenock and the Nipmuc rod and gun clubs, starting in the late
forties. Before the skeet shooting started, he was into archery. He has a picture of an archery group at
the Nipmuc club, taken in 1950, of Lon Church, Chick Childs, himself, Len Carlson, Limey Draper,
Wally Colcord and Harold Bushnell.
The skeet range was on Draper land on the Hopedale-Upton border near Route 140. Arnold thinks it
may have been Craig Huff who started it. Dick Hoberg and Donald Wells were also "members." (It was
a very informal organization.) They had high and low trap houses. Skeet shooting was also done
where the Hopedale Country Club is now. Arnold said that as your drive in, it was off to the right.
The Nipmuc Rod and Gun Club
Another related organization was the Nipmuc Rod and Gun Club. Here's an article on it from about
1952 or 1953.
HOPEDALE - Over 100 members and guests attended the annual meeting of the Nipmuc Rod and
Gun Club which was held at the club house last evening. The following officers and directors were
chosen for two-year terms. President, George Harlow; vice president, Arthur LaRhette; financial
secretary, Nicholas Narducci, recording secretary, William Nelson; treasurer, Charles Lemon;
directors, Douglas Wells, Arthur Sloan, Maynard Draper, Burleigh Lapworth, Robert Weaver, Roy
Westcott, William Ackerly, Joseph DeGanne, John Glenn and Charles Eden.
Past President Douglas Wells was given a rousing vote of thanks for his untiring efforts on behalf of
the club during his term of office. The meeting was preceded by a roast beef supper served by the
Couples' Club of the Methodist Church. The club membership, now in excess of 850, includes
members from several towns in this section. Milford Daily News , May 21, year not given.
Nipuc Rod & Gun Club Park, Pond and Sports Menu HOME
Identified by Arnold Nealley as
"...probably Bunny Moran."
Donald Wells at left
Hopedale, near the Upton town line. These photos were taken
years ago, and most of the area is now overgrown with trees
belonged to Doug Taylor of Mendon.
Thanks to Bob and Amy Burns for
has closed after an investigation showed deficiencies in the upkeep and maintenance of the shooting range
and high lead levels in the building.
The Hopedale Pistol and Rifle Club, formed in 1947 and located in a brick building at 25 Depot St., has eight
shooting positions on a 50-foot indoor target, according to the club’s website. The Junior Shooters club
includes memebrs ranging in age from 10 to 18.
According to Health Agent Lenny Izzo, several parents of the club’s junior shooters reported in June that their
children had elevated lead levels in their blood after recent doctor visits, prompting physicians to file a report
with the state. The state, in turn, sent inspectors to the club last week.
Izzo said the club has been closed since mid-August. A sign on the club’s door Wednesday stated the club is
closed "temporarily for maintenance."
According to the report, dated Aug. 6, nine out of 10 wipe samples taken on July 10 were "not satisfactory,"
including four samples taken in rooms other than the range.
"Wipe samples indicate that elevated levels of lead dust exist in areas where hand-to-mouth contact is
possible," the report states. "A comprehensive cleaning of the range is required."
Department of Labor Standards Executive Director Heather Rowe said lead contamination has been found in
many other firing ranges and couldn’t say where the club stands on a scale "of how bad this may or not have
been," but pointed to the test results.
On a desk in the front room that is not a part of the firing range, the levels of lead were found to be more than
10,000 micrograms per square foot, the report said, which is 50 times over the National Institute for
Occupational Safety and Health's allowable limit of 200 micrograms per square foot
Lead levels were also found to be above 10,000 micrograms per square foot on the floor behind the shooting
bays, the report said.
The club is required to wet-clean all tables, floors in the front room and range, horizontal surfaces, clips used
to hold in targets and shooting bay shelves.
The club is also required to implement a housekeeping schedule and procedures, including daily wet-
mopping and wiping of floors and surfaces.
Another finding of the report is that air flow from the building’s ventilation system is "slower than industry
guidelines" at 9 to 36 feet per minute, much lower than the 50 to 75 feet per minute recommended by NIOSH.
The club is required to increase the air flow and keep the ventilation system on at all times
The report also said that club members responsible for cleaning the range "do not have the appropriate
personal protective equipment to prevent their exposure to lead."
HOPEDALE - State officials last week inspected the Hopedale Pistol and Rifle Club after tests showed several
junior shooters had elevated levels of lead in their blood.
According to Health Agent Lenny Izzo, about one month ago several parents of the club’s junior shooters
reported their children had elevated lead levels in their blood after recent doctor visits, prompting physicians to
file a report with the state. The state, in turn, sent inspectors to the club last week.
The club, formed in 1947 and located in a brick building at 25 Depot St., has eight shooting positions on a 50-
foot indoor target, according to the club’s website. The Junior Shooters club includes youngsters from age 10
Last week, the state Department of Labor Standards sent two investigators to test the air quality and swab
areas around the club to determine if the high lead levels came from the club, Izzo said.
Art Pennesi, an industrial hygiene consultant with the state Department of Labor Workforce, said he and
another investigator were pleased with the club’s ventilation system, which rids the air of lead dust.
However, he said lead dust may have settled onto horizontal surfaces near where the shooting occurs.
According to the state Division of Occupational Safety’s guidelines for the cleaning of indoor firing ranges,
"ranges should be cleaned daily or after each use to minimize the buildup of lead."
Penessi added that other potential sources of lead exposure, such as lead paint in the youths' homes or lead
in their well water, was ruled out by a parent who was present during the testing last week.
According to Izzo, once a year, club officials "go through the whole place and clean it up," but neither he nor
Pennesi pinned the club’s cleaning cycle on the elevated lead levels.
Izzo added, however, that a parent of one of the youths, who has not shot at the club for 30 days, has noticed a
slight decline in the levels of lead in the child's blood.
Pennesi said although the results of the air quality and surface testing won’t be available for at least another
week, he said his department will probably recommend implementing a cleaning schedule for horizontal
He said since the issue is not between and employer and employee, the department cannot force the club to
Mark Pettit, a parent of a child who was found to have elevated levels of lead, did not want to comment on the
situation, saying he may take legal action.
|Hopedale Gun Club Inspected for Lead
By Zachary Comeau
Daily News Staff
Posted Jul. 15, 2014 at 12:01 AM
Hopedale Gun Club Closed After Tests Show High Lead Levels
By Zachary Comeau
Daily News Staff
Posted Sep. 4, 2014 at 12:01 AM
Updated Sep 4, 2014 at 3:45 PM
Thanks to Hank and Gerry Cyr for sending this.
It was in an envelope of Spindleville items that
had been saved by Roberta Look Simmons.
We knew the gun clubs as the SKEET SHOOT. It became the western part of the golf course in the
late 1950's. Lots of Mill Street kids played there, as our mothers would tell to go play in the woods.
Come back for lunch. There was a building on stilts that would shoot clay disks for the riflemen to
shoot. Occasionally we would find an unbroken one there. Shirley (Johnson) Cahill, January 2017
Revitalized Hopedale Rifle Club seeks new members
By Christopher Gavin Daily News Staff Posted May 9, 2018 at 6:47 PM Updated May 9, 2018 at 10:30 PM
HOPEDALE - After suspending its operations in 2014 amid reports of high levels of lead in its facility, the Hopedale
Pistol and Rifle Club has a new report to share: The doors of the small Depot Street shooting range are not only
open, but officers are encouraging new members to join.
Under new leadership, the more than 70-year-old club is back in action and club officers say it remains dedicated
to shooting sports and responsible gun ownership.
Boasting between 100 and 150 members, the club also has room to grow, they say.
“My biggest joy has been the fact that, despite the naysayers and the detractors, that we’ve kept this club open
through some really difficult times and we’ve marshaled it through,” President Todd Smith said, sitting inside the
club’s 25 Depot St. shooting range on Wednesday morning.
“I think for the long term, we’ll be a better organization for it.” Upgrades and reorganization
The club’s significantly upgraded ventilation system and hygiene policy have quelled issues that put the club out of
commission for nearly two years after a state report found high levels of lead throughout the building, officers say.
The report, released following an inspection by the state Department of Labor Standards in July 2014, came after
members enrolled in the Junior Shooters club were found with elevated levels of lead in their blood.
Revitalized Hopedale Rie Club seeks new members
Inspectors determined the building’s air ventilation system fell below levels recommended by the National Institute
for Occupational Safety and Health, moving air at a rate of 9 to 36 feet per minute instead of the ideal 50 to 75 feet
per minute rate at the range’s eight shooting positions.
Elsewhere in the building, high levels of lead prompted the department to mandate the club to clean the facility and
institute daily cleaning policies.
The issues led to the club’s suspension that year and changes in club leadership after sitting board members
decided not to seek re-election, according to Smith, who was elected president shortly afterward.
The overhaul also meant some fluctuation in the club’s membership, as the group reorganized and focused on
bringing the facility back in line, according to Smith.
Club dues increased from $35 per year to $60, but the organization also completed the lengthy process of
designing, financing and installing a new, nearly $140,000 air ventilation and filtering system before opening to
members again in March 2016, he said.
“It was no small task.”
Because of the new system - which moves air on average 82 feet per minute with a low of 68 feet and a high of 101
feet - and a new hygiene policy - a club first officers say the lead problems are in the club’s past.
“We didn’t have rules and procedures ... You have to have those things,” Smith said, referring to the club’s new
hygiene policy. “If you want to be a good steward of your organization, you have to have rules.”
Of the Junior Shooters club members who reported elevated levels of lead in their blood, all have aged out of the
program, which is made up of 10- to 18year-olds, Smith said.
He has not heard of any continuing issues with any of the former club members about it since, he said.
″(The issue) really came to the club as a concern and, in all honesty, it wasn’t given the attention it deserved,”
The club also sent the state the ventilation report the group commissioned Carey’s Small Arms Range Ventilation,
an Illinois-based company, to conduct on its new system, he said. Expanding membership
The group says its ready to grow its membership.
Club leaders are looking forward to sharing their passion for shooting sports at an open house event on Saturday,
from 1-5 p.m. Refreshments, demonstrations and information on what the club has to offer, from its programs to
shooting teams, will be available.
“I’m really looking forward to moving forward, meeting some new people,” said Mark Petitt, club vice president.
Petitt has often brought in folks who were at first hesitant to try the sport but quickly found a new hobby, he said.
“The ones that actually come, they leave with a smile on their face,” Petitt said.
Jean St. George, who oversees the Junior Shooter club with his father, Brian, said he sees the organization’s
programs for youngsters and women as ways the club can grow.
St. George, 25, has shot at the club since he was 10, he said. It’s like a second home to him.
At its core, the club has two rules: always follow safety rules and remember to enjoy the sport, he said.
“You have to have fun. If you’re not having fun, then there’s really no point, you know? ... I’ve come here numerous
times where there is the junior program or the pistol team and I shot poorly. But I kept on coming back because I
love the atmosphere and the people that were here.”
By Christopher Gavin / Daily News Staff
Posted May 9, 2018 at 8:28 PM Updated May 9, 2018 at 8:28 PM
HOPEDALE - The effort to grow membership of the Hopedale Pistol and Rifle Club comes as the national
conversation on firearms, gun-control laws and gun violence reached new heights this year following deadly mass
shootings in Parkland, Florida and Las Vegas in the last seven months.
But club president Todd Smith said Wednesday he thinks whether the organization will gain new membership
amid the strong opinions on both sides of the political spectrum can go either way.
Under President Barack Obama’s administration, firearm sales and manufacturing spiked, with American
companies making more than 70 million firearms since 2008.
In 2010, companies made 1.8 million rifles - a number that grew to more than four million six years later.
At the Hopedale club, membership rose during Obama’s first year in office, Smith said Wednesday.
“There’s no doubt about it: People were concerned that they would no longer be able to get a permit or be able to
get a firearm. There was a run-on on both of them, our membership, we were bringing in 20 to 30 members a
night, sometimes, because people wanted to get their permit and needed a place to shoot.”
Since President Donald Trump took office last year, gun manufacturers have seen their sales head the other way.
Smith said he thinks the club’s ability to draw new members can swing like those two trends.
“As we saw in Obama’s first term, it was a boom for the industries and it was a boom for the club,” he said. “I think
it, whether it’s at the state level or at the federal level, there’s still a lot of pressure, and we just need to be good
citizens and good responsible gun owners, and that’s all we can really do.”
Much of the draw for new members in the current political climate on guns will rely on what member Jean St.
George refers to as the basics: The club’s positive aspects of morale, friendship and sportsmanship.
Educating curious people about responsible firearm safety and ownership is also key, said St. George, who
oversees the Junior Shooters program
“I think a big thing in it ... is that people get educated because they might not know. They see something on the
news, they’re skeptical about it, but until they really indulge themselves to someone like us - that we shoot on a
regular basis and promote the safety, the active sport - they’re going to be uninformed until that point.”
Material from The Washington Post was used in this report. Christopher Gavin can be reached at 508 634-
7582 or [email protected]