The Stratford P.A.L. Rifle team was founded in 1951 by the then Sergeant Joseph Carten. The first basic marksmanship course was held in the basement of the Stratford Town Hall and outdoor shooting started in the gravel pit owned by the town.Eventually an agreement was made with Igor Sikorsky to have an outdoor range at the Sikorsky plant. The top shooters of the time included Bruce Reynolds, Harry Wilcoxson, and Joe's daughter Karen. The indoor range was moved to Second Hill Lane School in 1958. In 1987, a move by the Board of Education to boot us out failed, when parents and Harry Wilcoxson brought our area up to code. United Technologies bought out Sikorsky Aircraft in the early 80's, and we were given a five-year warning that we would have to move out of our outdoor location on their property. In 1984 we were evicted and have come to depend on Ansonia Rod and Gun Club, Bell City Rifle Club and the Stratford Police range located in Roosevelt Forest.Uncle Joe Carten decided to retire as the S.P.A.L. Chief coach, cook and bottle washer in 1980. Patti Clark, who was one of Joe's juniors in the sixties and Harry Wilcoxson who was also a junior in S.P.A.L., took over.In 1997, Patti Clark decided to step down as Madam Director of the club. Nicole Panko, one of Patti's juniors since 1981, took over as Junior Director. During Patti's seventeen years as Madam Director, she coached many juniors to the college level and to the International level. Patti coached many National Championship teams and individuals.In 1997 we were told that we would have to find a new indoor range to practice in. April of 1998, after 40 years, the S.P.A.L. juniors fired at Second Hill Lane School for the last time. As of May 6th, 1998 our new home is at the Stratford Police Department. The one high point to us moving is wenow have restrooms.The club has continued to prosper and its reputation as a prone club nationally has changed to a nationally recognized junior position club. We have continued to coach many juniors that have gone on to be members of NCAA Championship Teams, National Development Team, National Teams, and National Championship Team members.
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