The uninitiated are often told that sporting clays is like “golf with a shotgun.”
“You go through the woods, and each station has a different challenge,” said Gary Gerard, an instructor at Tampa Bay Sporting Clays.
The clay shooting facility in Land O’ Lakes has been in existence for nearly two decades. It is catering to a sport that is rapidly gaining popularity in the U.S. despite having originated in England a little more than a century ago, TBSC workers said.
Shooters can choose novice, intermediate or championship courses at TBSC. The courses meander through wooded acreage. “Pull!” the shooters call out, and the clay disc — or pair of discs — is released into the air. Speed, angle, distance, trajectory and other factors change at each station. The idea? To simulate the flight of live game.
“It’s all fun when you hit the target,” said Palm Harbor resident Todd Collier. “And everybody goes out of their way to be helpful here.”
Collier, a TBSC regular, said the courses are a constant challenge.
“By the time you get to trying to figure out (each station), they change it up,” he said from behind the wheel of his golf cart.
Ali Shrewsbury, who lives “15 minutes” from the facility, stopped by recently for a ladies clinic. It was her second time shooting clays.
“Just doing everything at the same time,” she said when asked about the most difficult aspect of the sport.
Gerard said shooters use shotguns and don’t aim as they would with a rifle. The target is on the move and so is the gun. Gerard’s analogies: A quarterback hitting a receiver or a child spraying someone with a hose who is running across the yard.
“Keep it moving,” Gerard said. “And follow through.”
The facility on Ehrens Cutoff Road has a small petting zoo. A goat named Pancho Villa and a pig named Bacon Bit are mascots of sorts.
Owner Mike Mezrah said customers must watch a safety video before hitting the course. No gun permit is required.
There are different packages available but you pay for as much or as little as you shoot. Clays cost 48 cents a piece for non-members (38 cents for members) with shotgun and golf cart rentals both costing $20 each. TBSC hosts many corporate and charity events.
“The whole idea is to come in and have a good time,” Mezrah said.
Tampa Bay Sporting Clays
10514 Ehren Cutoff Road
Land O' Lakes
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