Thunderbird News


Thunderbird Fast Draw Club


Our History

thunderbird fast draw club

The Thunderbird Fast Draw Club was born in late 1958 at the height of the TV Hollywood western, and the “heydays” of fast draw. The Thunderbirds formed in Vancouver British Columbia, and were first known as the “Coast Marksmen Hipshooter’s Division”. The first recorded news of the club appeared in the B.C. Outdoors magazine in March of 1959.


thunderbird fast draw clubPrior 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. The name THUNDERBIRD was chosen for the club in honour of our local First Nations, (the Haida) as their legends say, “The Thunderbird receives the highest respect of all Haida clan symbols as he is considered the intermediary between God and man.”


thunderbird fast draw clubClub members, under the direction of Army Sgt. Reg Patterson, used live ammunition to shoot at balloons and tin cans, while wax bullets were shot at a timer fashioned from a clock radio. Around 1962 the sport which was often called “Quick Draw”, was rapidly turning away from the use of live ammunition over safety concerns and so the Thunderbirds banned the use of live ammunition in favour of much safer wax bullets and black power blanks.


There was pressure to force out The Thunderbirds from the “mother club” at The Coast Marksmen Range from the new directors of the board who opposed the sport of fast draw in favour of strictly target shooting. The few remaining Thunderbirds moved the club to the Pt. Moody Gun Club with some help and direction from Al Brian a member of the Valley Gun Hawks in the United States, which later became our “sister club” and in many ways our mentor. On sunny days the club members were able to shoot outside, but most of the time shooting was held indoors in what was called the “Black Hole” which was the basement of the Pt. Moody Gun Range.


Vancouver gun clubThe next generation of years was spent dealing with the bureaucracy of new Canadian gun laws while also putting on shows, shoots, parties, and at the same time educating the public on both gun safety, and showing the public how much fun the sport of fast draw can be. The club helped John Dinkins build the sport of fast draw between Vancouver B.C. and Portland Oregon with the founding of The Los Tiradores Fast Draw Club in Sedro Woolley Washington.


thunderbird fast drawDuring those days, there were many fast draw shows, shoots, parades, and some of the best successes the club has ever had. The club was forced to move to a range further outside of Vancouver when the Pt. Moody Gun Club became known as The Thompson Mt. Sportsmen’s Association. The longer drive to the shooting range for many members took its toll on the club membership.  The directors of the newly formed Thompson Mt. Sportsman’s Association focused their attention on combat shooting and there became a feeling by the new directors that the Thunderbirds were a “club within a club” which they didn’t approve of and the Thunderbirds were forced out by being charged excessive range fees. The club then moved to its current home, the Langley Rod and Gun Club, where the caretakers, Archers Ed and Betty Oswald were familiar with the Thunderbirds and saw the club as an asset in promoting not only the Langley Rod and Gun Club, but all shooting sports.


Vancouver Gun Club

In our “lifetime” the Thunderbirds have done countless exhibitions, T.V. shows, a movie, parades, rodeos, and served our community by promoting gun safety through demonstrations for the Boy Scouts, Range Wardens, and Army Cadets. The club has even performed for the Governor of Washington State. In 1979, the club broke an all-time monthly club shoot turnout with 33 members in attendance and at its peak there were 44 active club members.

Over the years the club has produced three world fast draw champions and many of the club’s members hold countless world speed records in the sport. The members can be found practicing on most Fridays at the Langley Rod and Gun Club. If you would like to give it a try, give us a call, or drop us an email. We would be happy to introduce you to the sport of fast draw and to let you “slap leather” and shoot up a few balloons with us.