The Cherokee Gun Club is a private shooting facility located on 115 scenic acres near Gainesville, Georgia. Close enough to be convenient yet secluded enough to be relaxing.
Visitors are welcome at our membership meetings, open events and competitions. Non-members may participate & shoot at all “open” matches and competitions but may not shoot on any other ranges except as a guest of a member.
NOTE: Cherokee Gun Club is a COLD RANGE. If you bring a gun to the range to shoot in a match, it needs to be UNLOADED / Cleared BEFORE you enter the property. Not in your car, trunk, safe area.
Cherokee Gun Club Officers:
President – Ed Smithpeters
Vice President – Charles “Breezy” Head
Treasurer – Kevin Smith
Secretary – Steve Roney
Membership Secretary – Terry Jones
Range Officer – Mike Bain
Past President – Paul Kesmodel
Cherokee Gun Club History
In 1968, a handful of dedicated and farsighted shooting enthusiasts started the Cherokee Gun Club (CGC). This group of shooters was made up of hunters, shotgunners, pistol shooters, and black powder shooters. They came from all walks of life, but had a common goal: to establish a suitable place to shoot. They leased 21 acres – an old “dug-out” gravel pit atop Buckhorn Mountain – from the Eston Smith family. The range facilities consisted of a 25-yd range and a 100-yd range. Target stands were cardboard boxes that the shooters brought with them, and clay target throwers were of the “hand-thrown” type.
The first officers of CGC were elected in 1969. Although the club members were shooters of all types, the first Board of Directors was mostly black powder shooters. Thus, the misconception arose that CGC was founded as a “black powder club”.
Progress was slow and revenues were meager. The $15 initiation fee and the $6 annual dues provided barely enough to pay the annual property lease. If CGC were to survive, funds for operation and expansion would have to be raised. The concept of a local gun show became a reality. Many volunteer man-hours were spent formulating mailing lists for exhibitors and locating a suitable building. Tickets had to be sold; food and refreshments had to be prepared; security had to be provided, etc. It took most of the Club membership to accomplish this tremendous task, but in March 1969, the first of what was to become a semiannual event began. The first CGC Gun Show was put on at the Gainesville Civic Center on Green Street. It was done with voluntary labor and in conjunction with the Gainesville Parks and Recreation Department. It was considered a great success, and the Club made money.
Over the next five or six years, progress continued to be slow, but thanks to the gun show revenues, some funds were being generated. As a result, CGC was officially incorporated as a non-profit organization on February 25, 1974. Although improvements had been made, the ranges remained basically the same. Some money had been accumulated and two used skeet machines and a used trap machine were purchased. Construction on a trap and skeet field began. About the middle of 1974, the shotgun sports became a reality at CGC.
The next eight or nine years were spent maintaining and improving the existing shooting facilities. The Club still did not have a place to hold regular membership and board meetings. A Clubhouse Committee was formed and, after several months of planning and discussion, construction of the first clubhouse began and a 24’ x 30’ concrete pad was poured. Materials for a one room building were delivered in October 1983, and approximately eight weeks later, CGC had a clubhouse. The wooden frame structure, complete with an 8’ x 30’ porch, overlooked the Buckhorn Mountain shooting range. It was reminiscent of an old-time log cabin, but it served its intended purpose well.
After the death of Mr. Eston Smith, it became apparent that Buckhorn Mountain was no longer a suitable site for the Club. The lease reverted to a month-to-month contract that could be revoked with twelvemonths notice. The Club needed more land than the 21 acres it had, but the price for the property was not economically feasible. A Land Committee was appointed to find a more suitable site. They found and recommended 64 acres off Candler Road, about a ten-minute drive from downtown Gainesville. It was three times the size of the Buckhorn Mountain property and closer to town. This was 1985 and the membership had grown to 300. If CGC was to continue, it would have to move. So, in March 1986, all members were assessed $150 each to help purchase the land. Life memberships were also offered for an additional $150 per member. The funds were raised and, in August 1986, the purchase was completed. Preparation for the move from Buckhorn Mountain began.
Plans for the new ranges were drawn and construction was started. The next year was hectic, but on August 5, 1987, Buckhorn Mountain, for all practical purposes, closed. CGC had a new home even though lots of work still had to be done. Most of the construction for the new ranges was accomplished under contract, but considerable detailed work still was done by members. Dedicated and talented
members volunteered their time and expertise to “fine tuning” the new facilities. The membership continued to grow; increasing to 350 in 1988, adding new talent and ideas. But, with growth, problems as well as progress occurred.
Volunteer help from the membership was becoming a problem. Workers for the gun shows and Club maintenance projects were becoming harder and harder to obtain. Most of the work was falling on 40-50 members. Many others felt no obligation to the Club whatsoever. However, the Club still managed to prosper.
On May 13, 1989, the first CGC registered NSSA skeet shoot was held. Approximately 2 ½ months later, on July 29, CGC held its first sporting clays match. All of that required a lot of volunteer help, but as usual, most of the work was done by the same 40-50 members. A lot of needed work was not being done. As a result of this, the Board of Directors brought a ten-hour per year per member work assessment proposition before the general membership. Ballots were mailed and returned at the end of October 1989. The assessment was approved by a 117 to 84 vote. The work hour assessment was implemented in April 1990, just a few weeks before the first registered ATA trap shoot that was scheduled for April 28.
However, due to discontent among some club members, the work assessment proposal was rescinded in January 1991. It was later reinstated that year as a Club Policy and remains in effect today. Shot fall-out from skeet and trap became a problem. Some neighbors were beginning to complain about shot falling on their buildings. It was very apparent that this could become a major problem. In order to alleviate this, the Board of Directors began to investigate the possibility of acquiring additional land. The membership ceiling was increased from 350 to 400 members in early 1991, partly to raise funds for additional land and partly for the expansion of existing facilities. In August 1991, 51 acres adjoining our original 64 acres was purchased. The land was to be used basically as a buffer zone to prevent outside interests from building too close to the ranges. However, it did not solve the shot fall-out problem.
Realignment of the skeet and trap fields was the only solution. In order to achieve this, Georgia Freezer and the Wallis brothers worked with CGC to provide a new access road to the ranges. The Wallis brothers agreed to trade a small section of their property to “square-up” the new road for a small section of CGC land that adjoined theirs. Georgia Freezer needed some land for drainage purposes and agreed to pave the new road and make a donation towards moving the trap and skeet fields in exchange for an easement over a small portion of CGC property that adjoined theirs. Realignment of the skeet and trap fields began and was completed in 1992.
The Club’s problems were not over. CGC was experiencing difficulties in producing their major fundraising project – the gun show. Advertising was expensive and the Club lacked the expertise necessary for obtaining suitable and sufficient exhibitors. Despite the ten-hour work assessment, volunteer workers were not adequate for such an endeavor. At that time, Matt Eastman, a professional gun show producer, was interested in the CGC gun shows. He was contacted and negotiations began for him to take over the gun shows. An agreement was made whereby CGC would provide the necessary security for the shows, and he would pay CGC a set fee for two shows per year. He also agreed to pay a nominal fee for us to provide security for two additional shows per year. The contract was signed in 1992 and Matt Eastman assumed control of the CGC gun shows. This arrangement continued through 1998, even though CGC continued to have some difficulty obtaining enough volunteers to provide the security required. A new contract was signed. Mr. Eastman agreed to a minimum number of workers, and CGC would receive a lesser amount of money, but would be paid equally for four shows per year. In the spring of 1998, the Board of Directors notified Mr. Eastman that they were withdrawing from the contract effective May 1999 and thereafter would not be involved in gun shows. The last gun show in which CGC was involved was held in January 1999, thus ending a 30-year tradition.
In the first five years of the new millennium, CGC made steady progress. Membership was increased to 600; new stations and equipment were added to the sporting clays course; a new trap field was constructed; rifle and pistol ranges were revamped and improved; skeet and trap machines were replaced; and improvements were made to the Clubhouse.