Lifestyles



Skeet shooting tests marksmanship
February 27, 2009 2:00 AM
Lee Graves

News


For some executives, escaping the business world means grabbing a bag of clubs and heading outdoors for several hours of chasing a little white ball and shooting the breeze with buddies.

For Doug Downer, escape comes with grabbing a shotgun and heading outdoors for several hours of shooting little clay targets and, yes, shooting the breeze with buddies.

Downer, president of HRI Associates, an independent insurance company in Herndon, participates in a winter skeet- and trap-shooting league in Centreville. Cries of “Pull!” and the sharp crack of gunfire make for lively competition during the Sunday gatherings. “It’s a chance to get outside, and I enjoy spending time with the people we shoot with,” says Downer, 48. “I’ve always been tuned in to the outdoors — hunting and fishing and that kind of thing — my whole life.”

Skeet and its cousins — traps and sporting clays — not only test marksmanship but also provide networking opportunities. The Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce held an event in September —

“Skeet, Scotch and Cigars: An Executive Outing”— that attracted more than 40 participants. “It was a lot of fun,” says Downer.  “I’d only shot sporting clays once before in my life, and I did miserably. So getting out to shoot something different from what I typically shoot was a lot of fun.”

Sporting clays differ from skeet in that the former involves going from station to station in a circuit — like holes on a golf course — where the clays simulate the flight and movements of different game.

Skeet involves hitting targets launched at high speed from various angles. Trap shooting is similar, but targets generally are outgoing, whereas in skeet the clays move in crossing patterns.

Competitions feature shotguns of assorted gauges, and everyone has his favorite. Downer’s weapon of choice is a 12-gauge Beretta 682 Super Trap, a high-end Italian model.

In addition to the time that shooting allows Downer to spend outdoors with friends, it provides quality time with his two daughters. “They’ve come for years on Sundays when I’m shooting in the leagues to watch,” he says. “My older daughter loves to shoot. The younger one likes to get out onto the rifle and pistol range, but she’s not as much into shooting the shotgun.”

The business
Skeet traces its roots to 1920, when several Massachusetts men devised the sport to keep their skills sharp for hunting. Shortly afterward, the National Skeet Shooting Association was formed.  Over the years, its rolls have swelled to more than 20,000 members.

“This is a sport where you get truck drivers and CEOs and doctors and lawyers all mixed up together,” says Bob Myers, a member of the Virginia Skeet Shooting Association who also serves on the national board of directors.

A nationwide study by Responsive Management, a Harrisonburg-based research firm, found that in 2004 about 28 percent of Americans 18 and older had participated in a shooting activity in the past two years (about 4 million in trap or skeet shooting). Another study that year by several groups, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, concluded that shooting sports and hunting combined to generate more than $36.4 billion in annual economic activity.

Although about 80 percent of shooting-sports participants are male, clubs encourage participation by women and youths, says Myers.  “The youth — that’s going to be the thing that saves the game.”

The players
Virginia Skeet Shooting Association: Lists clubs and facilities around the state as well as coordinates competitions. (540) 775-4417, (804) 761-4961 or http://www.vaskeet.com

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The Homestead: Hot Springs. Offers skeet and trap shooting as well as sporting clays and five-stand (similar to sporting clays). (866) 354-4653, (540) 839-7787 or http://www.thehomestead.com

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Bull Run Regional Park Shooting Center: 7700 Bull Run Drive, Centreville. Offers five types of shotgun games, including skeet. (703) 830-2344 or http://www.nvrpa.org/parks/bullrunshooting/index.php

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Old Forge Sporting Clays: 7945 Long Reach Road, Providence Forge. Offers five-stand as well as sporting clays. (804) 966-2955.

NAS Oceana Skeet and Trap Range: 1950 Potters Road, Virginia Beach. Offers skeet, trap and five-stand. (757) 433-2875.

Reader Comments

Dear Doug and Fellow Shooters, According to the liberals in Washington us law abiding shooters like yourself in the above story should NOT be allowed to own a gun because we are a threat to the takeover of the USA by the liberals in DC, don’t forget when our guns and ammo are gone we are defenseles, our homes and families are in jeopardy, Doug if you read this please pass this on to your shooting friends, we are in the cross hairs of Obama and his mindless self serving friends. Sincerely, The Bulldog

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Sam Raymer of Michigan
Mar. 6, 2009 at 02:10 PM

The cost is such you have to be an Executive to afford the hobby. Guns can cost $1000 - 80,000.

Shooting 100 Shots on a range costs $65.00 and entry fees to the range cost $ too (even if you are not shooting).

Then a lot of these ranges aren’t anymore then Farms where the owner wants to exploit the possibility of getting shooters from nearby Metropolitan areas (where they can’t shoot) to travel to the country where they can.

No RANGEOWNER thinks to do any soundproofing so that the farm animals, feed animals nor people in the surrounding community can’t hear these people shooting of thousands of rounds per day.
200 people shooting 100 rounds is 20,000 shots
per day.  That is Noise Pollution folks, if you live nearby. 

So you ever notice that none of the articles on this sport addresses these issues?

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Tony of Central Virginia
Mar. 18, 2009 at 11:20 AM

Hey Tony of central Virginia, Where do you get off trying to tell or control other people, you liberals don’t have a clue, it sounds to me that you have a bad case of class envy thats why you and your Obama hero want to redistribute the welth in this country,  all you want is to be taken care and destroy the American way of life, I have been shooting skeet for 55 yrs. and I don’t think some bone head like you is about to stop me because of so called noise pollution.

By the way I don’t know where you get your information from but anyone can go to a shooting range and watch for free, if you would open up your mind and not worry about the cattle you might learn something!

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sam raymer of MICHIGAN
Mar. 19, 2009 at 12:16 PM

This is really a very informative as well as innovative posting. I like the way u have written this post. Thanks for the information.

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Ronald - Massachusettspersonalinjurylawyer of Massachusetts
Mar. 24, 2009 at 08:57 AM

Skeet shooting is way more fun than I initially thought it would be. One of the most challenging things we did was turn the thrower on its side to simulate rabbits. It was wild! Those skeet bounce along, and are tough to hit. Great sport!

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Pelican Cases
Apr. 21, 2010 at 03:36 PM



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