This late 1960s photo features the hardy group of the organizers of the first Ponoka Fish and Game Rifleman’s Rodeo, which was hosted on the 1966 September long weekend at the Bowie family farm south of Ponoka. Shown from left to right, standing are: Howie Johnson, Jerry Fink, Jack McMillan, Joe Fleck, Quinn Fate, Ed Nelson, Phyllis and Art Walcheske, Erna Mass, Harvey Onesto, and Lloyd Bowie; and then kneeling in front is: unknown, Garry Hyryck, and Ron Cave. Hopefully many will be returning for the gala 50th Anniversary celebration from September 2 to 4 at ‘perfectly natural’ Lake Pofianga, to which everyone is invited.                                Photo from Ponoka Fish and Game archives

This late 1960s photo features the hardy group of the organizers of the first Ponoka Fish and Game Rifleman’s Rodeo, which was hosted on the 1966 September long weekend at the Bowie family farm south of Ponoka. Shown from left to right, standing are: Howie Johnson, Jerry Fink, Jack McMillan, Joe Fleck, Quinn Fate, Ed Nelson, Phyllis and Art Walcheske, Erna Mass, Harvey Onesto, and Lloyd Bowie; and then kneeling in front is: unknown, Garry Hyryck, and Ron Cave. Hopefully many will be returning for the gala 50th Anniversary celebration from September 2 to 4 at ‘perfectly natural’ Lake Pofianga, to which everyone is invited. Photo from Ponoka Fish and Game archives

Reflections: Rifle enthusiasts of past and present to return for 50th annual Fish and Game Rifleman’s Rodeo

Ponoka News’ Reflections celebrates the Fish and Game Rifleman’s Rodeo

The stage is all set for some root-in’ toot-in’ sharp shooting and family fun at pristine Lake Pofianga on the long weekend of September 2 to 4 as the long-standing Ponoka Fish and Game Association plays host to the gala 50th Anniversary celebration of their exciting and first class Rifleman’s Rodeo.

This grand tradition and long history of keen marksmanship and family participation in all aspects of Wildlife Conservation, education, promotion, and many related year round activities has avidly carried on and proudly seen the local club grow from 3 to over 300 active members from throughout our Town and County of Ponoka since organizing back in the 1950s.

A long and proud history of rifle competition

Our local history books from way back to the humble beginnings of our community reported that Ponoka has always been blessed with many great marksmen, who loved to take part in local and provincial competitions. In 1913 the Ponoka Gun Club team of Charles Segerstrom, Bert Pendleton, Martin Bednar, Bill Kennedy, R.K. Allan, and Fred Lee were crowned as the Rifle shooting Champions of Alberta. The Ponoka Gun Club would host countless friendly weekly ‘shoots’ up on ‘chicken hill’ or around the outskirts of town for many years, and it was here where generations of men and women looked forward to gathering together to practise their marksmanship and to prepare for the hunting season. I always looked forward to catching the Gun Club scores each week in the Ponoka Herald, and many of them would hit 25 out of 25 targets and had become real sharp-shooters.

So many colorful tales will always be told of those annual hunting trips throughout the countryside and far beyond on horseback or early vehicles over our rugged and bountiful terrain. The ‘spoils’ of those hunts and fishing excursions were carefully prepared and stored in their dark old cellars or cold rooms to feed countless large and hungry families, with a few of the very best being measured and carefully preserved and hung in the trophy rooms.

In the 1960s several avid hunters and members of the Ponoka Fish and Game Association led by Howie Johnson came up with the idea of organizing an annual rifle shooting competition and Sportsman’s show. With keen assistance from Harvey Onesto, Ron Cave, Joe Fleck, Cec Bieber, Ed Nelson, Jerry Fink, Jack McMillan, Art and Phyllis Walcheske, Quinn Fate, and others a sight was found, the targets were made, and the very first Rifleman’s Rodeo was held on a September 1966 weekend out at the Bowie family farm south of Ponoka. Over the years the targets, the range, the competition, and the keen spirit of enthusiasm and friendly hospitality have always remained the same at the popular Fish and Game Rifleman’s Rodeo, which was moved to its permanent location at perfectly natural Lake Pofianga in 1976. The event has faithfully attracted thousands of participants of all ages from near and far, all who always enjoy a great weekend of action from dawn to dusk in a great and safe atmosphere of good sportsmanship and family fun, with everyone invited to join in.

A great celebration for the 50th

The 50th Anniversary Ponoka Fish and Game Rifleman’s Rodeo will be held from September 2 to the 4 at the Lake Pofianga Recreation area North West of Ponoka. As well as the thrilling rifle competition for seniors, ladies, juniors, and teams, there will also be many enjoyable family events all weekend, free hotdogs and hamburgers on Saturday, and camping available throughout this September long weekend event. Organizers are really looking forward to hosting many of the longstanding Ponoka Fish and Game members and their families from the last 50 years, as well as welcoming back participants who have taken part in the action year and year, along with newcomers to the unique range, along with lots of appreciative and cheering spectators.

Saturday-September 2nd events will feature the junior competition starting at 9 a.m. followed by a noon shoot-out for a chance to win a new hunting rifle, and a fabulous evening that will include a pit roasted Pig and smoked beef BBQ, a concert featuring Kym Simon, and a glorious display of fireworks to light up the evening sky. The Rifleman’s Rodeo competition will commence again on Sunday and Monday, and go right on down to the finals and prize presentations. Everyone is welcome to attend, but tickets are limited for the Saturday meal and concert ($50.00), or concert only ($35.00), so those wishing to take part are urged to get in touch with Leonard Davis 403-588-2834 or Todd Nabozniak at 403-888-6254 as soon as possible.