IT took just minutes for 40 years of Maisie Harvey's life to burn to the ground.
A founding member of the Orange Pistol Club, 75-year-old Maisie was in disbelief on Saturday when three of the club's Fanning Lane ranges were ruined by a bushfire which also destroyed the scorers room and damaged the clubhouse. The indoor range escaped unscathed.
"I just put my arms around someone and cried," she said, reliving Saturday afternoon. "By then it was gone and I couldn't see for smoke ..."
Life members, Maisie and her husband John Harvey, 78, have devoted their lives to the Orange Pistol Club, having been there when it was formed in 1964. They were among the workers when the club established its Fanning Lane base, which was opened on Australia Day 1976.
"There was four of us that used to come every afternoon and work until 9 o'clock at night just building things and getting them finished," Maisie said yesterday, overlooking the three ranges which are now destroyed.
"(Clubmate) Peter Keegan said, 'It's been you're life for 40 years, you've just been so involved'. I said, ‘It's gone, it's gone'."
While Maisie is still actively involved with the club, John, who alternated president duties with Rob Eslick between 1967 and the late '80s, is now a resident of Calare Nursing Home where Maisie told him of the fire.
John's last term as president was in 1995 after which he served on the committee before standing down through illness.
Maisie herself has just returned to the committee after a break. She was actually competing in the Central West Championships, which the club was hosting, when the fire hit the range at about 2.15pm on Saturday.
After smelling smoke, her first instinct was to get into her car and head for a neighbouring property for help.
"It was frightening to see it coming. I knew the fire brigades weren't going to get here. The boys got bushes and were trying to beat it out. I really flew (in the car), I went honking the horn to warn people," she said.
Maisie said the reality of the situation has sunk in.
"It has now," she said.
"Either August or September we were to run the state titles for service pistol ... if we can get (the range) up by then it will be a wonder, then our 40th anniversary comes up at the end of October and we were planning a great shoot and reunion for that,'' she said.
"We haven't got the workforce we had 25 years ago. 1975 we started and in 1976 we held the first shoot on Australia Day but we had a lot of electricians and builders and plumbers in the club in those days."
Despite being devastated by the damage, Maisie said she will stick with the club.
"I can't do as much as I did years ago. I helped put the foundations down (for the clubhouse), handing bricks and the like but I'm past that now. But I'll be there behind them."
Maisie said she and her clubmates had been heartened by the support from the pistol shooting community with Orange's founding president John Baird among the first to offer support.
There are ranges at Bathurst and Dubbo if Orange members wish to continue shooting while Orange is rebuilt but Maisie won't be there.
"There'll be too much work to be done here now," she said.
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