Vale George Rogers

All Australian competitive pistol shooters will and should be saddened by the passing of George Rogers on 5 June 2010, for it was principally him to whom we owe the secure position that pistol shooting sport currently occupies in Australia.

In 1955 there were two pistol shooting clubs in Australia – one in Adelaide the other in Hobart and whilst there may have been many people who would have welcomed the opportunity to participate in this form of shooting, the possession of pistols was strictly limited by law in all states and required police licences to purchase and possess them and sport was not an acceptable reason in states other than SA and TAS. In Victoria the registration of the pistols required for Olympic events were prohibited.

The award of granting  the hosting of the 1956 Olympic Games to Melbourne provided the spark for a change - Early in 1955 George, then the President of the Victorian Sporting Shooters Association, contacted Mr. E.J. Holt, the Technical Director of the Organising Committee of the Melbourne Olympic Games concerning the requirements for Australians to participate in the shooting events, which included “Free Pistol” and “Silhouette” (now Rapid Fire) pistol, both of which required 0.22 inch calibre pistols.

Mr. Holt advised that application for the appropriate licences should be made to the Police and that an Australian (Shooting) Association should be formed, to comprise of not less than 3 state associations each having not less than three pistol shooting clubs to affiliate with the International Shooting Union (ISU) – two new clubs were quickly formed in Victoria.

A meeting of State Presidents and one other representative of South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria was held at Mount Gambier on 28 January 1956 where they agreed to the formation of The Amateur Pistol Shooting Union of Australasia but the S.A. Executive subsequently refused to ratify the agreement. At a second meeting in June 1956 in Melbourne, after strong and persistent action by George Rogers, representatives of South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales agreed to the formation of the Amateur Pistol Shooting Union of Australia which subsequently obtained affiliation with the ISU and recognition by the Australian Olympic Council.

Victoria legislated for provisional licences for pistols “of an Olympic” type but only until the end of 1956. George then led a request to the Victorian Government to amend the legislation to allow the continuation of the sport of pistol shooting. Unfortunately the government was in the course of consolidating every Act of Parliament and did not agree to our request until the completion of the consolidation in 1958. Persons who had licences for 0.22’s were allowed to keep them, no new licences were issued until the consolidation was completed, when there were eight new clubs waiting to seek licenses.

George was appointed as the Range Officer for the pistol events at the 1956 Olympic Games and continued as President of the Victorian Amateur Pistol Association until 1959 and of the Melbourne Pistol Club (now Melbourne International Shooting Club) until 1960. He left active participation in the pistol movement in 1967 due to pressure of family commitments and running his own business.