The Barry County Conservation Club was formed on February 21, 1946, under the name Barry County Sportmen’s Club.
Four local Sports clubs joined together under this new name. They were Barry County Rod & Gun Club, Hastings Skeet & Pistol Club, Archery and Fox Hunting Club.The first officers were: President- James Matthews, Vice President- Gay Jordan; Secretary- Albert Klevorn; Treasurer- Forrest “Frosty” Bennett.Membership was open to all males over 18 years of age. Women could join the auxiliary startup called The Women’s Club. Franklin Bentley prepare the by-laws and Elwood “Woody” Bachelder designed the insignia. In 1947, they became affiliated with the United Michigan Conservation Clubs ad the National Rifle Association.
That same year they purchased 72 acres of land on Cook Road. And Cook donated a small adjoining parcel of land so the rifle range could be laid out properly.Some of their activities included skeet, trap and pistol shooting, archery, fox hunting, horse shows and dances.
Midget auto racing was also popular with some members for a time, especially Don Seigel and Jon Leary. Many Hastings business and professional men were very active in the club.Conservation projects included raising pheasants for release, planting trees, and stocking fish. The club worked with the Fish & Game Commission on laws to preserve same kind to keep water pollution under control. In 1951, the club presented to the veterans at Percy Jones Hospital in Battle Creek the largest assortment of fishing tackle they had every received. This gift was much appreciated by the vets.Many children have been sponsored to summer camps promoting conservation and recreation.
The club had a food booth at the Barry County Fair for many years, and were active in the community with the Tourist Council. In March, 1954, the Woman’s Club split from the Sportmen’s Club and formed their own group called Barry County Sportswomen’s Club.In 1958 the club membership has dwindled from around 250 down to a few. Efforts to reorganize the club and revive it were undertaken, and it started to grow and be active in the community again.In 1959, Kenneth Richard “Dick” Lancaster initiated the start of a youth hunting & conservation camp each year.
The volunteer teachers worked with about 150 area youth each fall so they can qualify for their first hunting license.In 1965, the name was changed to Barry County Conservation Club and the membership was opened up to women. They also built the main clubhouse building.Trapshooting for the public was introduced at the club in 1966 and continues to be available yet today.
In the 70’s and early 80’s the club has continued to be active with all types of firearms competitions and activities for members. Two covered shooting ranges have been constructed and the trap fields were enlarged to four traps.There are organized competitions for muzzle loaders, rifles, and big and small-bore handguns, as well as modern and black powder shotgun. These are open to the public as well as to club members.All area law enforcement groups are members of the club and do their qualifying on the club ranges.In 1983, the club hosted the Michigan State Handgun Metallic Silhouette competition and in July, 1985, hosted the Region III Handgun Metallic Silhouette competition. This included competitors from a 5-state area.
President – Arnie Conklin
Vice President – Bruce Buehler
Secretary – David Ramey
Treasurer – Nancy Cooper