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John Patrick Fitzgerald (1941 – 2024)

Apr 23, 2024 | Obituaries

Prepared by Bruce Scott, President of the NRAA

Sadly, in the early hours of Saturday 13th April 2024, the NRAA lost a very staunch and committed supporter of our sport.  John Fitzgerald was a giant of our sport and it is expected the broader membership do not understand the debt of gratitude that is owed to him.  Upon reflection, there are very few today who can remember when John was not serving our sport – a truly dedicated and singularly focused man. His passing is a great loss to rifle shooting in Australia.

John Fitzgerald, known to most as Fitzy, was born on 7th December 1941, a day that some will remember as the day Japan bombed Pearl Harbour.  Franklin D Roosevelt stated 7th December 1941 was “a date which will live in infamy”.  John entered the world in turbulent times but went on to enjoy life to its fullest.  He was larger than life savouring every moment often entertaining his friends with incredible and colourful stories, many of which can not be printed.

Little is known of John growing up other than he was a choir boy at St Mary’s Cathedral.


Prior to his retirement in 2005, John was a Director and Sales Manager for a commercial food equipment company based in Sydney for 30 odd years.  His duties included Sales & Marketing of a number of products globally recognised within the industry and management of a small (20) sales staff.  He was involved in the design and installation of commercial kitchens and bars in the registered club industry.   One of his proudest moments within the industry included heading the design team for the complete fit out of Sydney’s Olympic Stadium leading up to the 2000 Olympic Games.

For his outstanding commitment to his vocation John was appointed a Fellow of the Catering Institute of Australia in 1988.

Shooter and Host

John had been involved in Full-Bore Rifle shooting for a period of 60+ years, having commenced shooting with Western Suburbs (now defunct) Rifle Club at Anzac Range Liverpool in 1956 and transferring to Marrickville Rifle Club in 1962 where he remained a member.

As a ‘lefty’ John won the Marrickville Rifle Club B Grade Championship in 1968/69 and then the A Grade Championship in 1975/76.  He proudly represented NSW in his first Sate Team in 1977 and was awarded the Baggy Blue Cap # 355.  John went on to Captain many NSWRA and NRAA Teams to various parts of the world including Kenya, Canada, West Indies, England and Scotland.

His commitment to NSWRA is legendary and he will be best remembered for his setting up and running of ‘Fitzy’s Diner’ during many NSWRA Queens events.  John only embarked on this catering challenge when he was confident there was someone else appointed to take over from him as the Chief Range Officer.

John enjoyed entertaining and was known to host overseas teams at his home.  The 1995 GB Lions Rifle Team captained by his great mate, the late John Killian, was one team recipient of John’s marvellous hospitality.  His generosity was not only evident in his hospitality but also in his keen investments at the vibrant calcutta auctions conducted at many championships to raise funds for various representative teams. 

Of note, with the approval of rules for the National Under 25 Team competition in 1977, John was the first to offer his services to run a prize meet and donate trophies to raise funds for blazers and travel for our up and coming young shooters.

When the University of New South Wales hosted the Intervarsity (IV) Matches in Sydney, John generously volunteered his time to be the CRO, bartender, organiser, commodore of the boat races, and general ‘cat herder’.  The hilarious stories that eventuated from this event will be retold for many years to come.  Ask someone who was there about raw eggs and the CRO morning briefing for all the university team members.

Shooting Administrator

John was the consummate shooting administrator who remained focused on the betterment of the sport of long range rifle shooting.  Some of his achievements and commitments include:

  • Life Member of Marrickville Rifle Club.
  • Secretary of Metropolitan Association of NSW for about 13 years.
  • Life Member of MDRA of NSW on 26 July 1975 in recognition of his work for the Association (MDRA) as Secretary.
  • Range Officer and Chief Range Officer for NSWRA Championships on many occasions in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
  • Chief Range Officer for the Australian Bicentenary (1988) championships in Sydney with over 1000 competitors in attendance.
  • NSWRA State Councillor continuously from 1989 to 2015.
  • While on the NSWRA Council, he was Deputy Chairman and alternative delegate to the NRAA (according to the NRAA structure at that time).
  • Chairman of NSWRA in 1999 until 2015.
  • Life Member of NSWRA in May 2000.
  • Director of the Australian Target Shooters Club and the New South Wales Shooting Association.
  • Member of Board of NRAA since its restructure in the early 2000s until 2018.
  • Chairman of Board of NRAA from 2006 to 2015.
  • Match Director for NRAA national and international events on many occasions, including the 2005 Australia Match which Australia won on the last shot.
  • Juror for the Full Bore shooting at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
  • 2018 Vice Patron NRAA.
  • Appointed Vice President of NRAGB.

A Focus on the Sport’s Future

John maintained a sharp focus on undertaking and supporting projects that would ensure the longevity of our shooting sport.  He was instrumental in delivering the whole of the NSWRA membership back to being members of the NRAA, thus strengthening the NRAA, and healing a rift between the two bodies. 

Further, under his chairmanship, vision and leadership of the NRAA, the sport of Full Bore rifle shooting has expanded in scope to include Match Rifle and F Class (both standard and open class), and the frequency and scope of International Matches has increased considerably.

From a longevity perspective, it can not be over emphasised that John’s greatest contribution to the sport of long range rifle shooting has been through actively lobbying both on a Federal and State level with both Government Ministers and bureaucrats, in the long battle to resolve the occupancy issues at ANZAC Rifle Range, Malabar.  It was John’s time, persistence and unwavering belief in the face of relentless bureaucratic pressure that enabled Anzac Rifle Range to still be in use today.  The case against the Commonwealth regarding ANZAC Range not just saved ANZAC Rifle Range but likely saved NSWRA – a loss might have seen the Association lost!

John ‘Fitzy’ Fitzgerald is fondly remembered and sadly missed by all rifle shooters who were fortunate enough to have met him. 

Thank you for your dedication and service to our sport.  Rest in Peace Fitzy.

(This Obituary has been prepared from notes received from many shooters known to John and from photographs published in the NSWRA Marksman magazine and NSWRA records, copies of which were generously provided by Rodney Winwood from Tasmania and Gary Somerville from Sydney)

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