The action pistol shooting community mourns the loss of Clive Whelan, who for many decades was associated in one way or another with the NRA Bianchi Cup Action Pistol Championship. Whelan, a native of Australia, passed away on Tuesday, December 18, 2018 after a long illness. He died peacefully in his sleep, surrounded by his close friends and family.
Clive first became active within action pistol as a discipline after a trip to visit NRA headquarters in 1989. His intent was to bring the sport of police pistol combat competition (PPC) to Australia. The Aussies were interested in holstered pistol competition, in the vein of the original combat masters such as Jeff Cooper and Ray Chapman. However, PPC is restricted to law enforcement only, so NRA officials suggested action pistol as an alternative for the Australian shooting enthusiasts.
Later that year, Clive served as team manager for the first Australian team to compete at the Bianchi Cup.
In 1994, Clive stepped down as vice president of Pistol Australia, and joined the Bianchi Cup protest committee. Passionate about the sport, Clive’s work with Pistol Australia helped grow support for regional shooting clubs in that country, providing a strong base for action shooting. Additionally, he was a president of the Yarra Pistol Club, a record-holder in Australian service pistol competition, and a keen sportsman who spent time hunting not just in his native Australia, but also in several African countries, New Zealand and the United States.
In 2000, Clive was awarded the Australian Sports Medal for all his service towards pistol shooting in his country. In 2018, the Victorian Amateur Pistol Association presented him with his 50-year membership medal.
An institution at the Bianchi Cup, after his retirement in 2015 as the protest committee chairman, he was sorely missed by all his friends on the “porch” in the subsequent years.
Clive Whelan working with John Gordon (left) at the 2015 NRA Bianchi Cup. That's Jim Shepherd of the Shooting Wire to his right.
On a personal note, I first met Clive Whelan at the 2008 Bianchi Cup and we became fast friends, but not only because of our mutual love of the sport of action pistol. It was also because he was a true friend of the shooting sports, who was willing to nurture a new staff member and school him in the nuances of the most prestigious pistol competition in the world. By that time, Clive had already become a Bianchi Cup elder statesman of sorts, and he was eager to share some of his vast action pistol knowledge to me, an eager student. I looked forward to seeing him each year before his retirement.
Famed action pistol shooter Julie Golob, a member of the NRA Board and a 3-time winner of the Bianchi Cup Women's Championship said about him:
"Clive was a wonderful man, referee and contributor to Action Shooting around the globe."
Additionally, Former NRA Bianchi Cup Coordinator Damien Orsinger had this to say about Clive:
"Clive was a good man. I have many fond memories of time spent with him in Missouri. He would always arrive at the hotel early when we would show up a week in advance to prepare for the Cup. It was always nice to see his warm, friendly smile."
SSUSA also spoke to Tom Hughes, who also worked with Clive for many years as the NRA Bianchi Cup Coordinator from 2007-2015.
"Clive's last year was 2015, which many have said was the last great Bianchi Cup. A lifelong supporter of the shooting sports, Clive's dedication to the growth of NRA Competitive Shooting has rarely been matched. He will be loved and missed by many."
The funeral will be on Thursday, January 3, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. at the Lilydale Memorial Park Federation Chapel in Lilydale, Victoria, Australia.