Outdoor America 2020 Issue 3
Virginia >> The Fredericksburg-Rappahannock Chapter of the League has a large parcel of historically significant land near Spotsylvania and located along and between the locations of two major battles of the American Civil War. The first was the 1863 battle of Chancellorsville where the tract of land was on the edge of the battle fought several miles to the north and east. Then, in May of 1864, at the outset of the Overland Campaign by Union Army forces, the Battle of the Wilderness raged on the western edge of the property. Near the end of this battle, the present-day chapter property served as a field hospital tending to the wounded soldiers.
However, today gunshots can again be heard on every day of the week as the members of the chapter use our four ranges for pistol, rifle and shotgun target shooting.
In August, the chapter invited members to participate in a trap shoot to celebrate National Shooting Sports Month. While this was an invitational event for chapter members, we also used it to attract and recruit non-members to join our chapter. We asked that each member bring a non-member guest and advertised that the chapter would provide all the clay targets, shotshells and a meal. Our planned date for the shoot was set for August 15, 2020.
The chapter decided to make this outdoor sport shooting event a tribute to the creators of the site and especially in memory of Ernie Meier. It is said that Ernie, even in his late 80s, never missed when shooting clays.
The range used for trap shooting was a project conceived several years ago by a quartet of members (the Four Musketeers, three of whom are pictured at right) that enjoyed the skill of shooting clay targets, including longtime member Ernie Meier. Land was cleared and a permanent clay thrower was installed, along with a solar panel to maintain the charge on the battery used to power the device in the remote location. The Four Musketeers were honored with a plaque on the recently constructed pavilion shelter located on the range.
With the recent passing of 88-year-old Ernie Meier, a retired USMC Lieutenant Colonel, the chapter decided to make this outdoor sport shooting event a tribute to the creators of the site and especially in memory of Ernie. Many of the participants gathered for the event were relatives of Ernie and are carrying on his tradition. It is said that Ernie, even in his late 80s, never missed when shooting clays.
Planning for the event was not without its challenges. There was the heat of summer, the social distancing demanded by the COVID-19 restrictions and heavy rains. We had to postpone the shoot twice due to severe summer storms. We had nearly 50 pre-registering entrants for the event and were able to maintain essentially the same registrants even with several delays. The event was ultimately held a month later on September 12 and was conducted during a four-hour period. We provided a memorable event for participants from ages nine to 90 and a fitting memorial to our lost member, Ernie Meier.
In September, gunfire was heard once again near the hallowed ground of the Civil War, but this gunfire was without malice and served as a celebration of the heritage of outdoor shooting sports and hopefully served to promote that legacy.