The recreational pastime of sporting clays is a relatively new sport to Texans and outdoorsmen across the United States. Introduced in 1980 by Bob Brister, American shooters quickly developed an interest in sporting clays. Sporting clays is a form of clay pigeon shooting. A typical course includes anywhere from 10-15 stations in an open area or field. Most competitors will have a total of 100 clays to shoot at during the tournament. Unlike trap and skeet shooting, sporting clays come from all different directions. The popularity of sporting clays is found within the ability to tackle a variety of trajectories, angles, speeds, elevations, and distances.

Shooting sporting clays does have a certain stigma to it. One such belief is that individuals new to the sport feel that they must be accomplished shooters. When, in fact, sporting clays are designed for shooters of all ages and skill level. Sporting clays allow for flexibility that other sports do not. Much like golf, one can compete as an individual or join a team. With increasing popularity, sporting clays are now replacing golf tournaments as fundraisers. Being able to host a variety of skill levels and ages, many non-profit organizations are turning to sporting clays for fundraising events.

While registered events divide individuals by their abilities, sporting clay fundraisers are designed with entertainment and community awareness in mind. Thus, these events keep score merely for the purpose of awarding prizes. Top individual and team shooters will usually take home the prize for having the highest overall score. However, there are many opportunities to create categories for novice and advanced shooters as well as creating competitive categories for age and gender. “Fun” shoots use the Lewis Class scoring system allowing everyone an equal chance to win a nice prize regardless of their score. Costs for a shooting event generally range from $100 – $200 per shooter. The event fee includes shooting, lunch, drinks, door prizes, as well as a chance at winning shooting prizes. At some events, shooters will also find shooting games such as, Long bird, Flurry or Pair in the Air to practice their skills before the tournament. There are numerous opportunities to take home a prize. A small shooting event may host 50 shooters, with larger, more well-known events hosting up to 500 shooters. The larger shoots will sometimes use more than one course and or have more than one rotation, having morning and afternoon shooting times. Special skills are not needed to participate in a sporting clay tournament. Knowledge of gun safety and a desire to have fun with friends and meet new people is all one person needs to attend and participate in a sporting clay event. Competitors should plan on spending 4-5 hours and know that unlike golf, alcohol cannot be consumed before or during competition and all guns must be put away prior to indulging. Don’t be afraid to give sporting clays a try all while having fun and supporting good causes and creating awareness for your community.

Speaking of FUN shoots, Texas Dove Hunters Association has two scheduled for 2017: Shooting for Scholarships, Saturday, March 4 at the National Shooting Complex in San Antonio and Pullin’ for Kids, Saturday, October 7 at Texas Premier Sporting Arms in Sealy (outside of Houston).Proceeds benefit TDHA youth programs: scholarships, DOVE 101 classes, and Youth Day.

By Araceli Chap-Leija