Sporting clays hit spot as challenge
At Willows Sporting Clays and Hunting Center at Harrah’s, you can hunt and not hurt a thing except clay targets (and don’t be so sure about even doing that).
It’s a 14-station course and each station has three shooting activities for different skill levels. As my level was exactly zero on a 100-point scale — I’d never held a shotgun — I got a quick lesson from Willows manager Barry Kelly, who made it all sound so Zen. You know, the gun is an extension of me, I’m going to feel it when it’s time to shoot, it’s as intuitive as catching a falling glass and so on. One with the gun.
Cool — until I find out it’s a real shotgun. I assume it’s loaded with a rubber pellet (remember ... skill level zero), but Kelly tells me, no, that it’s buckshot. If I shoot him with it, I’ll kill him. Whoa. I quickly hand it back and he assures me it’s not loaded yet. A few more basics, including a look at the clays available for shooting, and we’re off on the course.
Here’s the bottom line: Wascally wabbits have nothing to fear from me. I try and try, but can’t hit the scampering clay that’s supposed to be a rabbit. I’ve about concluded I’m no good at this, then we get to the targets in the air. All of a sudden I get what Kelly meant about tracking the target, about feeling it. I pull and the clay explodes. I know in my heart that I could hit that target all day. I tell my family when I get home that if we are attacked by air, I’m taking a lead position. Anything that comes by ground had better be slow and big, though.
There is a slight recoil to the shotgun, but not much. I was worried, but after the first round realized that it was nominal. Women, here’s the thing: If you’ve never held a shotgun, remember to lean into it. I’m saying it for the women because it’s exactly what I did wrong, and Kelly told me that women always lean away from the shotgun the first time because the gun is heavy. I see no reason why the same rule wouldn’t apply to men, though. And don’t take out your earplugs when someone else is shooting. There’s might not be much recoil, but those guns are loud.
Adam Simmons of the Willows shooting center at Harrah’s demonstrates shotgun technique.