Sport­ing clays hit spot as chal­lenge

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - Cover Story - By Jen­nifer Biggs


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.

Mike Maple The Com­mer­cial Ap­peal

Adam Sim­mons of the Wil­lows shoot­ing cen­ter at Har­rah’s demon­strates shot­gun tech­nique.

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