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Sporting clays fun shoot

‘It’s golf with shotguns’

JBLM Shooting Complex hosts popular fun shoot

Published: 01:44PM November 8th, 2012
‘It’s golf with shotguns’

Scott Hansen/Northwest Guardian

Dustin Sheffler, of Puyallup, participates in the monthly Sporting Clays Fun Shoot at the JBLM Shooting Complex. About 25 shooters participated in the event.

The game of golf is a popular sport for the retirement lifestyle, but it’s not for everyone.

Marion Smith of Steilacoom, prefers the leisurely sport of shooting sporting clays.

“It’s golf with shotguns,” Smith said. “When we shoot clays there’s about four of us that usually shoot, and it takes us forever because at every station we stop to shoot the (breeze).”

Saturday Smith teamed up with Wayne Lockbaum and Fred Hollis, both of Graham, to go through the 12 stations of the Sporting Clays Fun Shoot at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Shooting Complex. David Pedroza, the facility manager, organizes the monthly fun and friendly competition.

The event attracts anywhere from 15 to 100 shooters to shoot 100 targets. Due to hunting season, about 25 shooters attended last weekend.

Smith, who served 34 years in the Army, Army Reserves and Army National Guard, shoots about 400 targets a week, visiting the shooting complex every Thursday, Sunday and every monthly sporting clay event.

“They’re challenging,” Smith said. “Every station is different and I think they crank the speed up on some of them.”

The activity builds camaraderie among other sportsmen, as shooters go through stations partnered up with people they’ve just met. Toward the end of the trio’s run through the stations Smith, Lockbaum and Hollis were laughing and joking together.

“That was my chance to catch up with you and I blew it,” Smith said to Lockbaum at station 11 after he missed his final two targets.

But Lockbaum, who served 21 years in the Army, still gave Smith the credit of being the top shooter in the bunch.

“He’s the best shooter of the group,” Lockbaum said. “I’m just having a lucky day.”

“And I’m bringing up the rear,” Hollis said.

There is no prize for the most accurate shooter, rather it’s just a fun opportunity for people to come out to shoot in groups rather than by themselves. Each station features different presentations of how the clays take flight. Shooters get 10 targets on the first two stations and then eight on the remaining 10.

The event also requires the assistance of volunteers to release the clays on the manual machines. One volunteer operated a machine that required him to launch a target and immediately follow with another target to follow it. He repeated the fast, fluid motion about 100 times on that day.

The event is for beginner shooters as well as more skilled, and is for people of all ages. Last Saturday’s event participants were active duty, civilians and retired service members, including a World War II veteran.

“The more you practice the more you get comfortable and know what to look for,” Pedroza said.

The final sporting clay shoot of the year is Saturday, Dec. 1.