The State of Florida, especially its south-eastern coast, is well known for its large Jewish population. The city of Hollywood, Florida boasts a particularly large Jewish population and nearly a dozen synagogues, and is also home to many Israelis. On Saturday mornings, the city provides assistance with traffic lights along Stirling Road to keep things orderly for the hundreds of orthodox Jews making their way on foot to schul.
As the orthodox make their way to Saturday morning prayers along Stirling Road, they walk right past the Hollywood Rifle and Pistol Club. On any given Saturday and Sunday, both Jews and Gentiles can be found on the range there, competing in NRA certified matches. The club is not a “Jewish” club, but has a large number of Jewish members. I have been to the club several times for competitions. The people at the club are truly remarkable, comprising folks from all walks of life.
Although the club posts its history online
, several of the Jewish members shared an unpublished aspect of its history with me. As many know, at one time South Florida was not very Jew-friendly
, with some hotels in the 20′s not allowing Jews and country-club discrimination lasting even longer. Unfortunately, the Hollywood shooting club shared some of this animosity. The story goes that a Jewish woman married a non-Jewish club member–she happened to have been a collegiate rifle champion. The husband brought his wife to a match, and several of the members made it known that a woman, and particularly a Jewish woman, was not welcome. She persisted, and ended up regularly out-shooting the men in rifle competitions. Fast forward a few decades, and now the club is roughly 50% Jewish. I overheard several Gentile members espousing stronger Zionist views then I hear from some American Jews.
Many of the Jewish members are active members of the club’s board of directors. Several have earned Master classification in disciplines like Conventional Pistol (Bullseye) and Small Bore Prone Rifle. Several Jewish members go to the National Matches at Camp Perry almost every year to compete.
Unfortunately, the membership’s average age is somewhat north of 50 years old. Young people, not just young Jews, nowadays have little interest in precision shooting sports. That doesn’t mean they don’t own guns, but if they compete, they are drawn to the “tactical” shooting sports that (supposedly) simulate combat or police scenarios. However, I did meet a few thirty-something Jews at the club, and as these things tend to go through cycles, maybe it’s just a matter of time before young American Jews find a renewed interest in precision shooting sports.
If you’re ever in Florida on vacation, send an email to the club and consider participating in their matches, which are open to the public. Their Fun Pistol match is a great time, even though it is not an NRA certified match. Many of the members linger afterward for cold beer and political debate that is just as competitive as the match!