Northland Sportsmen's Club is Front Page News

The Northland Sportsmen's Club has earned front page coverage in the Gaylord Herald-Times for its commitment to conservation and safe firearms use and instruction. Re-posted with permission. 
By Lorene Parshall, Gaylord Herald-Times Staff Writer
GAYLORD — Nationally, there is a controversy among sportsmen’s clubs as to which is the oldest continuously active gun club in the U.S.
The most likely winner is the Massachusetts Rifle Association, which was founded in 1871 by 30 Civil War veterans and other gun enthusiasts.
There is no controversy about when Gaylord’s Northland Sportsmen’s Club, 1592 Old Alba Road, was founded, according to a history compiled by Walter Owen, a long-term member and past president. The club was founded in 1934 and the 40 acres the clubhouse now sits on was purchased in 1940. The club now has more than 300 members.
Owen said the mission of Northland Sportsmen’s Club is providing safe, clean shooting ranges for members and law enforcement; conserving natural resources; promoting safe and environmentally sound use of natural resources for hunting, fishing and other outdoor sports; and the education of youth in shooting and outdoor sports.
“Walter Owen has been the backbone of our club for over 30 years,” said Gary Russell, a 30-year member of the club. “Without Walter, this club would probably not exist.”
Russell has been on the club’s board for five years. He is chief range officer, responsible for scheduling shooting events and making sure safety protocols are followed in all activities.
“I became involved with the club because I’m a competitive rifle shooter,” Russell said. “I also coach young junior shooters in the community on safe gun-handling skills.”
Other youth activities sponsored by the club are a February ice fishing derby, spring and fall hunter safety programs and an award dinner for junior shooters at the end of the gun and rifle training season. The club awards two scholarships a year to graduating high school students from Otsego County.
Board president Tim Schmidt has been a member of the club for about 12 years.
“I joined the club because I wanted to change the activities in my life to have a better lifestyle,” Schmidt said. “I’ve stayed in the club because of the guys I’ve met there. They’re a great bunch of guys.”
Just a few of the many other contributions the club has made to the community include permitting local law enforcement members use of the outdoor rifle and pistol ranges when needed for training and qualification purposes; roadside trash cleanup around their property and illegal dump sites; and permitting the public to use the club rifle range for seven days in November to sight-in their hunting guns.
The club also has a conservation committee that meets with other conservation groups and reports back to the club.
There is a large variety of shooting events held at the club throughout the year, some for members, some for members and guests, and some open to the public.
The club also puts on annual social events for members and their families, such as corn and pork roasts and Christmas parties.
“There is a lot of camaraderie in the club,” Schmidt said. “A lot of good people from the community who are members, and I’m proud to call them my friends.”
For more information about the club, visit or call (989) 732-6389.

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