Last Tuesday the Cedar City Gun Club held a “Lebanon Democrat Appreciation” night to thank the newspaper for running its weekly trap scores and other area shooting news items.
Winners of various shooting classes received complimentary subscriptions to the paper. Club official Ben Schade invited me to drop by the club, located off Highway 231 South on Whipoorwill Road, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable, educational and inspirational visit.
Back in the 1970’s I covered a national trap shoot, but the technology has changed tremendously over the years. I asked a thousand questions and got a thousand patient answers.
I didn’t know, for example, that nowadays the clay birds are launched by a voice-activated machine. The birds spring from a contraption that obeys the “pull” command of the shooter.
Hundreds of thousands of clay discs are shattered every month on the club’s shooting range, and the shards are biodegradable. No cleanup is required.
I learned about various shell loads (no shot larger than 7 ½ allowed), and why most shooters prefer 12 gauges over lighter models such as 20- or 16-gauge. I assumed the lighter guns would have less recoil and therefore be easier on the shoulder, but the shooters I talked to said the recoil of the 12-gage is not bad, and they consider it more effective than other gauges for trap shooting.
Interestingly, not many of the trap shooters are hunters. In the old days, wing shooters often tuned up for quail, dove and duck season by breaking a few clay targets, but Schade says nowadays there’s not much overlap of bird hunters/trap shooters. The guns and loads used by trap shooters wouldn’t be effective in the field.
There are strict rules of shooting etiquette and firearm safety.
The shooters are serious about their sport. One told me he goes through several thousand shells a year. Shells cost $5.50-$9 for a box of 25. Some shooters re-load their own ammo, others buy it through the Gun Club or other outlets.
Cost of a trap gun ranges from $500 to over $10,000, with a used “starter” gun running around $2,500.
Every shooter I chatted with was personable and outgoing. It was as pleasant a group as I’ve ever been around and completely defies the often-negative stereotype of gun owners perpetuated by certain media.
I was especially impressed by the number of youngsters who participated. They were all bright, polite and enthusiastic. Two teenaged girls, Sarah Mathis and Ashley Swift, were among the best shots on the range.
Interest in competitive shooting is on the rise among both adults and youngsters. Many Tennessee schools have interscholastic teams that compete in programs overseen by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Tennessee Wildlife Federation. Many others participate in grass-roots organizations such as the Cedar City Gun Club.
For information about the club or other area shooting events contact Schade at email@example.com