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A club trainer aims at a target in indoor shooting range.
A club trainer aims at a target in indoor shooting range.

Established as a target shooting facility for the 2004 South Asian Games, the Gun and Country Club is now the second club of its kind that caters to Islamabad’s affluent residents.

The club has several shooting ranges, a swimming pool, tennis courts and restaurants for its almost 1,000 members.

It has three indoor shooting ranges; 10 metres for air pistol competitions, 25 metres for 2.2 pistol competitions and 50 metres for point 2.2 pistol and rifle competitions.

A young woman aims an air rifle at the 10-metre shooting range.
A young woman aims an air rifle at the 10-metre shooting range.

The club also has three outdoor firing ranges, a skeet range, a 12-bore short gun range and a trap range. In its dining call, guns used to hunt lions in the Mughal era and brass armour shirts adorn the walls.

The Gun Club was established on Nov 18, 2002, through the Gun Club Resolution, which was subsequently notified by the now-devolved Ministry of Sports.

The club was opened for the South Asian Games in 2004, and was renamed the Gun and Country Club after the games. Its first administrator was retired Lt Gen Arif Hasan, followed by Faisal Sekhi Butt during the PPP government. Currently, PML-N leader Daniyal Aziz looks after the club’s affairs.

A brass armour shirt from the Mughal era, known as zirah baktar, is displayed in the Gun and Country Club dining hall.
A brass armour shirt from the Mughal era, known as zirah baktar, is displayed in the Gun and Country Club dining hall.

Over the last few years, the club has focused more on providing facilities as a country club and less on shooting competitions. However, a national gun competition was organised last year after a gap of three years.

It was also said that the club could have hosted the 2016 South Asian Clay Championship, but Pakistan lost the opportunity to do so because of a lax approach. The club houses the offices of the Pakistan Rifle Association, and also organises shooting summer camps for the children of members.

“Some years ago, I applied for membership at the Islamabad Club but could not get it. Then I applied here, and got membership,” a club member, who asked not to be named, said.

A board carrying instructions for shooters.
A board carrying instructions for shooters.

He said the club provides good facilities, such as a gym and swimming pool, as well as good quality food. However, he said, special attention should be given to organising shooting events, which are a trademark of the club.

A club official said any citizen of good repute can become members after paying Rs600,000 in fees and Rs4,500 per month, while government officials receive membership at subsidised rates.

The official said under the administration of Faisal Sekhi Butt, a large number of honorary memberships were given out, but all the honorary memberships were cancelled by the incumbent administrator.

Skeet target machines throw clay targets in the air that are shot at by 12-bore shotguns. — Photos by Mohammad Asim
Skeet target machines throw clay targets in the air that are shot at by 12-bore shotguns. — Photos by Mohammad Asim

The club has also faced some controversy. During the tenure of the PPP, the Supreme Court had to intervene when the Capital Development Authority allotted 28 acres of land in addition to the 44 acres on which the club stands. The club’s management at the time also attempted to set up a wedding marquee for commercial purposes through dubious deals.

More recently, 100 club employees took to the streets against the removal of the administration manager at the hands of Mr Aziz, in addition to other demands. The protesting employees refused to rejoin the club until their demands were met, and the management hired new staff.

The National Industrial Relations Commission has decided in favour of the employees, but the management remains reluctant to reinstate them, calling the employees’ protest “politically motivated”.

Published in Dawn, July 30th, 2017