Sunday September 30, 2012

LEE -- After 100 years, the 140 or so members of the Lee Sportsmen's Association are still pulling the trigger.

Of course, these aren't the same members who forged the club in October of 1912. But they certainly share the founders' love of the outdoors, hunting and fishing.

The club celebrated its centennial Saturday by inviting the public to the club grounds for a fair that featured hot air balloon rides, medieval games, craft booths, raffles and plenty of opportunities to try out the archery, pistol and rifle ranges.

Throughout the day, pops and booms from the pistol and rifle ranges punctuated the atmosphere of the fair. Groups of men and women were gathered at the ranges, watching the shooting and eagerly discussing the features and charms of various firearms and ammunition.

Club President John Polastri estimated the fair drew roughly 600 people. Polastri is the second generation of his family to belong. His father started the tradition, and his son kept it going as the third generation to belong to the club.

"We wanted to kind of show off our club," he said. "We're a gun club but we're about a lot more than that."

For the past 50 years, the association has been based at their Fairview Street property. It features both inside and outside shooting ranges, a pheasant pen and a trout-stocked quarry pond where members can try out their angling skills.

But much of the club's efforts are focused on firearms safety. Local police use the range for practice and testing, and gun usage and safety courses are also taught there.

"We're just dedicated to our sportsman's heritage, and to make sure things are done right and safely," said club volunteer Jerry Strock.

The pheasant pen holds nearly 500 birds, many of which are released into local public woodlands just before pheasant season opens.

"I saw a lot of smiles on people's faces. It's really a lot of fun, that's all I can tell you," Polastri said. "Hopefully we'll keep this club going for another hundred years."

To reach Scott Stafford:
sstafford@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6241.
On Twitter: @BE_SStafford