Serious faces, in an old black and white photograph, men standing together side by side. Suit jackets and ties, all wearing Fedora’s, holding shotguns—the year is 1934 and these men are surviving, and probably thriving, through the Great Depression. They gather this day to record for posterity, the founding of the Brooks Avenue Club. The game they play, to simulate upland bird hunting, has only been in existence for 14 years. The Grand American Handicap is 34 years old, but the fledgling national skeet organization would not host its first national championship until the following year.
But we move too quickly, for in spite of the serious faces, our founding fathers gather for the joy of sport and companionship. It will take another four years for these men, together with representatives from clubs as far away as Buffalo and Syracuse, to form a skeet league to compete against each other and “register” the targets. James Hogan, Doc Ames, Doc Wray, Frank Gannett, among the men in the picture.
The Brooks Avenue Club grew, held some registered shoots, and now the pictures on the wall include ladies in skirts and high heels, shucking away at Model 12’s with compensators. Urban sprawl, 1950’s style, forces the Brooks Avenue Club to make way for the present Monroe County International Airport. Merging with the Community Gun Club, ground is broken for a new location on East Henrietta Road. But the move is only temporary, as gun clubs go, and in a few short years, as Henrietta becomes one of Rochester’s largest suburbs, the club is forced once again to seek land and space away from residential housing developments. Norm Beikirch, Sam Chimento, Dr. Wray and several others purchased over 400 acres in the Town of Rush, an excellent move which is (so far) permanent. The club re-incorporated, becoming Rochester Brooks International Trap & Skeet.
One of the largest shooting complexes in the United States, Rochester Brooks was built with 24 skeet fields (with trap overlays), sufficient to host World Skeet Shoots, and the world championship in 1962 was the first event scheduled at the new Rush location. The club hosted three more of these tournaments, in 1966, 1969 and 1972. The growing popularity of these shoots and the ability of the national organization to acquire home grounds in Texas put an end to RB’s feasibility as a world shoot site, but did not dampen our enthusiasm for large competitions.
The club continued in the 1970’s and 1980’s to host numerous state, zone and national trap and skeet competitions, plus international skeet and trap meets. In the mid-1980’s a severe thunderstorm hit the area, destroying most of the old wooden skeet houses that had been constructed 25 years earlier. When re-building the fields, it was determined that 14 skeet and trap fields were all the club required in order to accommodate our membership and continue to host large tournaments.
A rifle range and pistol bays were added in the mid-1970’s to benefit club members and Practical Pistol competitors. The next step forward took place during the 1987 U.S. Open Skeet championships, when competitors attending the shoot, and club members, were introduced to a game called sporting clays. The club’s property contains rolling countryside, hills and woods, perfect for a sport designed to simulate upland hunting, and RB is proud to be one of the first clubs in the country to feature this shotgun sport.
Sporting clays was an immediate hit and started off hosting Ducks Unlimited fundraisers, which were hugely popular, each event drawing around 300 shooters from all over the Northeast and Canada. In the “early days,” RB affiliated with the SCA to host state and zone competitions in addition to fun shoots. Now affiliated with the NSCA, we continue to host state and regional registered clays tournaments.
Rochester-Brooks has a long-standing reputation for producing All-American skeet and trap shooters, and many world record scores have been shot at tournaments on our fields. With the increased popularity of competitive sporting clays, the club membership now includes world-class sporting clays champions also.
Rochester-Brooks was recognized as “Club of the Year” in 1997 by the NSSA/NSCA, and is affiliated with the ATA, NSSA, NSCA, USA Shooting, USPSA/IPSIC, WSSF, NRA and the Monroe County Conservation Council.
The club’s membership is actively involved in our community, hosting club and corporate outings and charitable fund-raising events.
While we are fortunate to have a facility capable of hosting the “big shoots,” RB’s main activities center around our 1250 members, and the day-to-day practice and leagues enjoyed by men and women who just love to shoot a few rounds and get together with friends.