Shooting from the hip

THE moment Allan MacClure decided power boating may not be for him was about the same time his leg shattered after flipping his boat ‘Hazard’ at more than 150km/h.

Allan MacClure.

Allan MacClure.

While Allan went on to claim an Australian title in Grafton later that year, the broken leg and wife Gwen’s ongoing concerns about the sport soon led to his retirement from power boating.

Allan started power boating in 1978, travelling to Raymond Terrace from Gloucester to race.

“We started off racing fishing boats off a handicap,” he said.

Hazard was made by boat builder Graham Howard from Wisemans Ferry. It was just under 6m long and was made of brush box and cedar.

“It could easily top 150km/h,” Allan said.

Allan still holds a record for the Hawkesbury Bridge to Bridge.

“No-one can beat that record. It was a class record which no longer exists today so I get to keep that one,” he said.

While Gwen initially accompanied Allan as he raced in tournaments across the country, she soon began to fear for her husband’s safety.

“So many of the drivers were killed or badly maimed. It was a ridiculous sport to be honest,” she said.

“Allan had a mate killed in a race at Toronto and that was it for me. It wasn’t long after that he gave it away as well.”

Following his retirement Allan needed a new hobby and pistol shooting held a certain attraction.

“We used to shoot air pistols at the auditorium at the school,” Allan said.

“But a change of government put an end to that when they decided no more guns in schools.

“So we built a small range out where the rifle club is.”

Eventually Gwen decided she would like to give the sport a go.

Gwen MacClure.

Gwen MacClure.

“I was sick of sitting at home waiting while he went to practice,” she said.

“Allan had an old gun that he gave me and told me if I could get my score up he’d buy me a proper target shooter. I think it took me about a fortnight.”

After years of refining their shooting skills on the range it was Gwen who decided she wanted to compete at the next level.

“I was 60 and had never competed outside Gloucester. I decided to enter a Masters competition to have some fun and ended up winning two medals,” she said.

“Later that year I finished second at the Asia Pacific Games.”

In 2005 the couple started competing in single action or Western-style competitions.

“They’re aged based events and everything is like old Western movies, from the guns you use to the clothes you wear,” Gwen said.

“We’ve travelled to a lot of places with it - Victoria, Queensland and across NSW. We used to go fishing but we haven’t had the boat on the car since we came back from WA in 2005.”

Both are decorated State and national medal winners and together the couple was inducted into the Gloucester Sporting Hall of Fame earlier this year.

“It’s something we enjoy doing together,” Allan said.

“It’s a very social sport but it’s challenging as well.”

Last month the couple, along with other members of the Gloucester Pistol Club, travelled to Newcastle for the NSW titles.

The titles were held at Newtec Range with Gloucester club members achieving some outstanding results.

Lilly Brown, Gwen MacClure and Norm Smith all finished first in their divisions while Duncan Brown and Allan MacClure claimed runner-up trophies and William Mantelow a third place finish.