Golf with a Shotgun

Golf with a Shotgun

Introduction To Sporting Clays

The concept of sporting clays originated in England and is sometimes described as “golf with a shotgun.” While one need not be a hunter to participate, targets at various stations along the course simulate the flight of fowl – such as ducks – or ground game – such as rabbits.

This region is host to one of the largest sporting clay venues in the country, Lehigh Valley Sporting Clays, a 132-acre facility at 2750 Limestone Street in Coplay featuring three courses – beginner, intermediate and advanced – and providing all the services necessary to check out the sport as a newcomer or improve one’s skills as a pro. Those services include private and group lessons, golf carts and push carts (each course with 17 stations comprises about a mile), loaner guns (you can bring your own, but some restrictions apply) and ammunition (restrictions also apply).

Lehigh Valley Sporting Clays operations manager Lori Strohl explained the difference between skeet shooting, trap shooting and sporting clays.

“Sporting clays is different than skeet and trap shooting in that it’s similar to a golf course where you go from station to station for a total of 100 targets.” The clay targets are thrown in different presentations such as in the air or rolling across the ground, she said.

With trap shooting a single trap throws the targets away from the shooter, with skeet shooting two traps are positioned across from each other, and with sporting clays a variety of ground and air presentations may challenge the participant at any given station, Strohl explained.

For $46, guests can challenge themselves to 100 targets, not including the use of a loaner gun, ammunition or a cart. If all of that is required, one round will set you back around $100.

Annual individual, family and corporate memberships are available for $175, $275 and $750 respectively, with discounts for NRA members, veterans, first responders, and seniors. Members enjoy discounts on fees (for instance, a round of 100 targets is $40 instead of $46) and other perks such as free targets and free use of loaner guns.

The facility was shut down from mid-March into June due to COVID-19 restrictions but since opening back up, Strohl said, business is booming. People are anxious to get back out. We do require a mask inside in the clubhouse, but if you’re on the course and maintaining a social distance of 6 feet apart, we don’t require one.

Not all patrons are hunters, Strohl said. “I don’t know the percentage, but we do have quite a few people who shoot sporting clays who are not hunters. It’s really something that anybody can do.”

“For somebody that has never shot sporting clays, we recommend taking a lesson because there are bad habits you can pick up right from the beginning,” she said. “We recommend taking a lesson if somebody has not done it before, especially if they have never shot a shotgun.”

Different types of lessons offered include First Time Shooter packages that cover basic fire arm safety and proper etiquette on the course. A beginner lesson costs $100 and includes 25 targets, ammo, ear and eye protection and use of a loaner gun. “It gives the person a taste of the sport so they can try it out and see if it’s something they want to pursue,” Strohl said

Situated on the former grounds of Lehigh Portland Cement, founded in 1897 and at one time the nation’s largest cement company, the long-abandoned quarry grounds were purchased by a local businessman in 1993 and transformed into a rudimentary sporting clay facility. In 2000, Bill and Laura Bachenberg purchased the business and began making improvements, such as converting a shower building into the current clubhouse, constructing a state-of-the-art conference center and expanding the pro shop.

Lehigh Valley Sporting Clays serves between 250 to 350 guests on any given weekend day, Strohl said, and reservations are highly recommended, although the facility does accommodate walk-ins (lessons do require reservations).

“We have range safety officers and course workers on the course at all times. New customers go through an introduction with a range safety officer who can generally tell if a guest has handled a fire arm before. If the Range Safety Officer does not feel the guests are capable of handling the firearm in a safe manner, they will be required to take a lesson before they can go out on the course.”

Patrons who rent guns are also screened similar to a background check as if they were purchasing a firearm, Strohl said.

“We have, right now, part-time and full-time, about 20 employees. We average approximately 1500 new shooters every month.”

“We are fairly unique. We offer programs for youth, women, and individuals with disabilities. We’re one of  the largest courses in the U.S. We throw over 6 million targets per year.”

Lehigh Valley Sporting Clays
2750 Limestone St

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