John Collinson OAM was born at Flemming, Victoria, on 12 January 1928 and grew up at Steels Creek, North-East of Melbourne. Steels Creek is a very small community with a population of about 300 today.
John’s first job was in a grocery store where he proved his business skill and later he worked in a delicatessen then a bakery. He developed an interest in trotters and had a love for gardening. John would become the President of the local gardening club.
John Collinson was a teacher and a lecturer of history who married Jan, a Wangaratta girl, on 2 July 1966. While John and Jan did not have any children, they enjoyed the company of their nieces and nephews with John often providing the life of the party with his cheeky one-liners and his many racing and gardening tips. Family was important to John with the one consistency in his life being his wife Jan.
John Collinson commenced shooting with the Fitzroy Rifle Club, where he was Club Secretary from 1951 to 1959. Fitzroy Rifle Club amalgamated with the Brunswick Rifle Club in 1962 where he remained a member until the 1990s. He was affectionately known as ‘Collo’ by his many shooting mates and when phoning friends he would, with some cheek, identify himself simply as ‘JC”.
John served as Treasurer to the Metropolitan District Rifle Union from 1959 – 1964, whilst also being Treasurer of the Victorian Rifle Association (VRA). In 1964, aged 36 years, he was appointed as VRA Chairman, a position he occupied until 1979. John was the youngest State Chairman at the time.
John Collinson was honoured with Life Membership of the VRA.
At a National level John, aged 38 years, was elected Chairman of the Australian Council of State Rifle Associations (ACSRA) 1966 to 1971, then with the formation of the National Rifle Association of Australia (NRAA), Chairman of the NRAA 1971 – 1974. In 1975 he was appointed as General Secretary of the NRAA. He occupied the position of General Secretary/Executive Director from 1975 until his retirement in late 1993, when he handed over to Alan Maher. John Collinson’s commitment to the sport of long range rifle shooting was exemplary – it was a lifetime passion for him and the NRAA is much the better for his dedication and leadership, both as a competitor and administrator.
As a shooter, he was Fitzroy Rifle Club Champion on three occasions, Captain of the Victorian Team which won the 1964 Merrett Team Match in South Australia. He won the 22nd Queens Badge at the NRA of NSW Prize Meeting in 1964. John was Chief Statistician for shooting at the 1956 Olympic Games (Melbourne), Commandant of Australia teams to England and Canada in 1972 and a Jury Member for the Commonwealth Games in 1982 (Brisbane).
John Collinson was awarded the OAM in 1993, for services to sport. Later John received an award from the Confederation of Australian Sport in recognition of his long standing involvement in rifle shooting as an administrator with the NRAA.
John Collinson was a humble and funny man who loved a life of laughter and was always smiling. He earned the respect of all who met him and was widely regarded as a genuine good bloke. He was both caring and understanding and did everything to the best of his ability.
John Collinson passed away on Thursday 1 December 2022 at the age of 94, knowing he gave the best he had to life. The NRAA is very grateful for Collo’s service to our sport.
Rest in Peace, John and thank you.
(This Obituary has been prepared from notes taken during the live streaming of John Collinson’s funeral and from articles published in the NSWRA Marksman magazine, copies of which were generously provided by Rodney Winwood from Tasmania)