COAL TOWNSHIP - Nestled on a hillside near the campus of the Shamokin Area School District on almost 600 acres of land, the Fairview Gun Club is dedicated to the love and preservation of outdoor recreation.

Since being formed more than 90 years ago, the club has operated with the specific goals of promoting good will, friendship and sportsmanship among its members while advancing wildlife conservation.

"We have a membership roster hanging on the wall, but it's more like a family record," recording secretary Dave Navrocki said.

The club was founded in 1922 and originated at the site where the Shamokin Area Middle-High School now stands. What started as nine members meeting in a tar paper shack has evolved into an organization that boasts nearly 1,000 members throughout the country.

When club land was needed to construct the new high school, Fairview moved, in 1972, to its present location on a hillside that overlooks the schools. Members now oversee 321 acres of woodlands which the organization owns and another 286 acres that it leases.

A variety of activities are available on the grounds for members to enjoy, including hunting, fishing, archery practice using 3-D targets and shooting ranges. The gun club has its own pond where it holds an annual trout derby, picnic grounds that are available to community organizations and a horseshoe pit where the club hosts a Father's Day tournament.

"As long as I have been a part of it, and many years before that, Fairview has always worked to keep the grounds the club stands on stocked for hunters and fishermen who are part of the club," financial secretary Ron Manney said.

In the past, the club has stocked its own pond for its annual youth trout derby, and put out between 150 and 240 ringneck pheasants every small game season for youth and adult pheasant hunting.

"Last year at our trout derby, a 12-year-old caught a fish that was between 22 and 23 inches long," Manney said. "That is something that young man will remember all his life. It may instill a love of fishing and being outdoors in him, and he may even be a future member of the club."

In recent months, most people outside of the membership only heard about the club from articles detailing legal problems related to gambling and alcohol violations. Manney and Navrocki said those problems have all been resolved and the club continues its self-described purpose, preserving wildlife and the land.

While Fairview is a private club, it regularly opens its grounds to the public for fund raising and community events. The club is the host for the annual Little Eddie Griffiths Memorial Scholarship Pig Roast, and hosts a trout derby and Easter egg hunt for the community.

"We work to raise money for several community organizations, such as the Salvation Army," Manney said. "We also have a scholarship fund for welders at the Northumberland County Career and Technology Center, and so much more," Manney said.

"It doesn't matter if it's something we need on gun club land, or something for the community," Navrocki said. "Our members will band together to get the job done."

Some individuals will always be on the grounds of the club as Fairview maintains a small cemetery for members and their families.

Navrocki said club members are looking forward to celebrating Fairview's 100th birthday in 2022 and that the little "diamond in the rough" 600 acres wide will remain as it is for many years to come.

"Some may have lost their way in the past with the past violations, but this club has been and always will be a sportsman's club to support outdoor activities, wildlife conservation and the community that it calls home," Navrocki said.

Club officers are president Robert Nahodil Jr., vice president Richard Drumheiser Jr., treasurer Robert Milbrand, recording secretary Dave Navrocki, financial secretary Ron Manney, trustees Dan Cotter, Rich Lahr Jr., Quentin Hummel, Dave Wolf, Jim Moreis and Rich Drumheiser Sr., land manager Jeremy Dixon, field captain Lloyd Parker and sergeant-at arms Don Koshinskie.