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Not a Typical Shoot

by: Barin von Foregger Outdoor Columnist

February 26, 2005
Rankin Ledger

There are some activities that once you experience, you just have to do again and again. This definitely holds true for me after a weekend of shooting sporting clays in North Mississippi.

The Willows at Grand Casino, Tunica is an outstanding facility, with skeet and sporting clay shooting stations.

Now I love shooting skeet, and I've been doing it since I was a teenager. It's fun to get out in an open field on a hot day, take off your shirt and shoot a couple of cases of shells at skeet.

I'm not good at it — I like the socializing.

Shooting sporting clays is much different, and a bit more difficult. It's kind of like a round of golf.

There are all sizes of clays and, unlike skeet, there's no set angle for the clays to be released. At one station, you could have a medium-sized clay whiz by at the speed of a wood duck, and, at another station you'd have a large disc skid across the ground at the speed of a racing rabbit.

This type of shooting definitely keeps you on your toes, and after a weekend at The Willows, I was hooked.

Then I got an e-mail from a Brandon man letting me know about a local sporting clays club.

Brandon's Joe Rankin, loves shooting sporting clays. An instructor certified by  the National Sporting Clays Association and board member with the Mississippi Sporting Clays Association, Rankin has been busy preparing for the 2005 shooting season.

"The league has been going for a couple of weeks now, so our group is pretty much set," Rankin said. "We've had rain every single day we tried to shoot, so there may be more shooters who join this week or next."

Rankin hopes to get more shooters started in sporting clays in Rankin County, with plans to construct a new facility in the near future.

"Learning to shoot well is no different than learning to play tennis, golf or piano," Rankin said. "The fastest, easiest and least expensive way is with a qualified instructor."

There are several events planned at the facility, including three "fun shoots."

"There are many shooters who don't want to compete, but just shoot for fun," Rankin said. "That's what our league is about."

Rankin has traveled the country, from Miami to Minnesota, taking part in the sport.

"In 2003, I shot more registered targets than anyone in Mississippi — the total was 7,500," Rankin said.

The NSCA, founded in 1989, is a nonprofit organization owned and operated by more than 17,000 members.

Shooters can compete in sporting clays tournaments or can take part in recreational target shooting.

Since practice makes perfect, clay shooting can strengthen hunting and gun safety skills.

It also gives die-hard hunters an excuse to shoot year-round.

According to the NSCA Web site, sporting clays is the closest thing to actual field shooting of all shotgun sports. The sport dates back to England in the early 20th century when trap shooting used live pigeons.

Sporting clays courses are designed to simulate the hunting of ducks, pheasants and even rabbits, with six different sizes of clay targets.

Want to shoot? Give Rankin a call at (601) 953-6615, or e-mail joe@clayandwings.com. He'll be glad to talk to you.

See you in the woods.

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