Right on target: Perham Sportsman’s Club keeps growing
Nine years ago, a few local guys got together and decided to resurrect the defunct Perham Sportsman's Club.
At first, membership in the club was informal, and minimal. The group was small, but its passion for the outdoors was big. To share that passion with others, club members set their sights on some lofty goals, took aim, and then pulled the trigger on their plans.
It seems they've hit their target. The club has grown significantly since then.
Today, membership in the Perham Sportsman's Club exceeds 180 men and women, with 141 annual members and 41 lifetime members. As of this writing, several more new memberships were pending.
Club members, who started out with nothing material to speak of, managed to secure 360 acres of land just southwest of town. Over the years, they've established conservation programs on that land, and built an archery range and pistol and rifle ranges. They design and host special hunting opportunities for area youth and disabled veterans, and hold multiple shooting and firearms safety courses for the public. They offer educational programs related to hunting, fishing, habitat, predator control and more. In 2016, they constructed a new clubhouse.
Rich McCrady, a Perham Sportsman's Club member, said the club is all volunteer, so everything its members do is done purely for love of the outdoors.
"This is an incredibly giving community," he said. "People here have a passion for this, for the outdoors, and especially the youth aspect."
McCrady said the club just keeps growing, with its members always looking for new ways to expand their reach. The club is currently working with local schools to find ways to use its land for educational purposes, and is also working on establishing a local women's group. Conservation is an ongoing topic, too, as the club tries to come up with new ways to embody and promote responsible land management practices.
Communication has improved in recent years, with the club developing a website and Facebook page to increase its visibility. Club members also get quarterly newsletters and occasional email blasts.
"So little by little people have become a little more appreciative of what goes on out here," said McCrady. "And we continue to work on engaging the members."
In addition, the club is exploring all the possible uses for its new clubhouse. The building boasts a kitchenette, stone fireplace, security system, and windows facing a pond and prairie. It's suitable for small group gatherings and has already been used for things like potlucks, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and as a meeting place for other community groups like the Cub Scouts.
"Almost everything in the clubhouse has been paid for through donations (of money) or donations of work," said McCrady.
And, it's still a work in progress. In the near future, the club wants to gravel the driveway and parking lot around the clubhouse. They're also planning to repaint the building at the firing range, and do more conservation and hunting prep work on the surrounding acreage.
According to a previous article in the Perham Focus, the Perham Sportsman's Club evolved out of a pheasant-raising project started by one of the club's founders. That founder got a few men together to raise and release pheasants for hunting, and the idea of a club grew from there.
A sportsman's club once existed in Perham in the past, but McCrady said there hadn't been one in town since about the 1960s.
The goal of the Perham Sportsman's Club is to be "all things to all sportsmen," with a focus on shooting, hunting, fishing, trapping, conservation, habitat management and youth programs.
Anyone age 18 or older who has an interest in the outdoors is eligible to join the club. The annual cost of membership is $60, and there are two whole-club meetings every year, in additional to the many optional community events and educational programs the club hosts. The board of governors meets every month.
For more information, visit perhamsportsman.com or the Perham Sportsman's Club Facebook page.
The Perham Sportsman's Club is holding its 10th Annual Chili Feed fundraiser on Thursday, Oct. 26 at The Cactus. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., with the meal served at 6. A $20 ticket covers all-you-can-eat chili and the chance to win more than 40 guns and other prizes. Kids 12 and under get in free. The chili feed is the club's largest fundraiser of the year. Proceeds are used to cover club costs and develop new programming. Attendance at the fundraiser grows every year; last year, 600 people took part.