The Thunderbird Fast Draw Club
By Den Robinson
World Fast Draw Association Newsletter
During this era of “Quick Draw” as it was often called, the American Fast Draw shooter was rapidly turning away from the use of live ammunition. The Canadian counterpart was no exception. After three accidents and under pressure from the police, other gun clubs, and the T-Bird’s themselves, the club, in 1962, voted out the use of live ammo for good. Prior to 1962, the club adopted a new and less cumbersome title, the Thunderbird Fast Draw Club, a name submitted by the since deceased Ken Roberts.
Pressure from the “mother club” Coast Marksmen continued as its directors were opposed to everything but target shooting. The few remaining T-Birds moved to a more liberal outfit known as the Pt. Moody Gun Club. With some help and direction from American, Al Brian and the Valley Gun Hawks, who became our “sister club” and in many ways our mentors the Thunderbird’s luck seemed to change for the better. On sunny days we shot outside, but most of the time we shot indoors in the “Black Hole” Pt. Moody’s basement range.
We spent the next generation of years bucking gun laws, putting on shows, shoots, parties, loopholling gun laws, buttonholling police and local officialdom, and more shows. Several of us helped John Dinkins build a Fast Draw Club between here and Portland, Oregon…. The Los Tiradores in Sedro Woolley, Washington.
During those days, there were many shows, shoots, parades, and some of the best successes the club has ever had. Then we had to move to a distant range because Pt. Moody became the Thompson Mt. Sportsmen’s Association. Rough times beset the T-Birds. Combat shooters had taken over, and the general feeling was that a “club within a club” was going to pay through the nose. We then moved to the Langley Rod and Gun Club, whose caretakers, Archers Ed and Betty Oswald were familiar with the T-Birds and saw us as an asset.
In our “lifetime” the T-Birds have done countless exhibitions, T.V. shows, a movie, parades, rodeos, and demonstrations for Boy Scouts, Range Wardens, and Army Cadets. We even did a show for the Governor of Washington State. In accomplishing these activities, the club has had to operate under very strict handgun control laws. In 1979, we broke our all-time monthly club shoot turnout – 33 members. At our peak we had a membership of 44, over half of whom were WFDA members. We have our own monthly newsletter and rulebook.
The name THUNDERBIRD is well known in these parts. There is a local Indian (Haida) legend that says, “The Thunderbird receives the highest respect of all Haida clan symbols as he is considered the intermediary between God and man.”