Fathers aim for quality time with their children by shooting clay targets

June 19, 2011|By DAVE MCMILLION |
  • Ben Stottlemyer, left, and his father, Bryan Stottlemyer of Hagerstown, go clay target shooting on Father's Day at the Washington County chapter of the Izaak Walton League along Independence Road between Clear Spring and Hagerstown.
By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer

WASHINGTON COUNTY — Several fathers and their children spent Father’s Day aiming at clay targets in the great outdoors.

The sporting clay event was held at the Washington County chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America along Independence Road between Clear Spring and Hagerstown.

“They put us to work today,” said Larry Stouffer, treasurer of the local Izaak Walton League chapter.

About 30 to 40 people usually come out for the shooting event, which is held the first and third Sundays through November, and 44 shooters had shown up before Sunday’s event concluded, said Brian Heacock, a volunteer for the organization.

Founded in 1922, the Izaak Walton League is one of the nation’s oldest conservation organizations, according to the organization’s website, With a grass-roots network of nearly 270 local chapters nationwide, the organization takes a common-sense approach toward protecting the country’s natural heritage and improving outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans, according to the website.

Sporting clays consists of shooters firing guns at circular clay targets — sometimes referred to as clay birds — that are flung into the air by a trapper operating a machine.

A clay might be fired in the air or bounced along the ground, resembling a rabbit running, Heacock said.

A shooter moves from station to station shooting at the clay targets. Five clay birds are shot from each station for each shooter, and there are 10 stations.

Shooters turned out at the sporting clay event from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. despite the humid weather that moved into the area. The loud crack of guns echoed across the league’s property and shooters traded stories about their efforts.

Although it was a popular father-son event, not all fathers accompanied their sons, despite their best attempts.

Josh Johansen of Keedysville said he invited his dad along Sunday for some shooting practice. But Johansen said his dad just returned from Germany, so his house looked better to him than a shooting range.

“I shot his gun, though,” said Johansen, enjoying a laugh with two of his friends.

It’s not just a male-oriented sport.

A female member of the Izaak Walton League was shooting Sunday, and a father brought his daughter along, Heacock said. And Heacock’s daughter Brandi — who was at the range Sunday with her brother Gage — is learning to be a trapper.

The sporting clay events are open to the public. It costs $12 for members of the Izaak Walton League to participate and $15 for nonmembers, Heacock said.

There are various other facilities on the league’s property, including indoor and outdoor shooting ranges, archery ranges and a pond.

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