October 2015

Sporting Clays: Golf with a Shotgun

Author: Laura Jacobi | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

Golf with a shotgun.” It’s a rather odd phrase to be muttered around the Lowcountry, seeing how the area is known for its world-class golf courses. That line is actually a common description of sporting clays—a form of clay pigeon target shooting. It’s a fun and challenging sport, which provides a unique and unpredictable experience for shooters of all skill levels.

Southerners are known for spending most of their time living, working and playing outdoors, and hunting and shooting have always been an integral part of that lifestyle. Bluffton now has a new sporting clays course for shooters to sharpen their skills: the Palmetto Bluff Shooting Club. The Palmetto Bluff Shooting Club features 13 sporting clays stations, winding through an expansive 40-acre hardwood bottom. The club also boasts an elevated and covered five-stand station, plus a wobble deck for a total of 15 shooting sites.

Experienced and novice shooters will have the opportunity to test out this exclusive club during the Palmetto Bluff Sporting Clays Cup, Friday, Oct. 30, which will benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Bluffton.

Jeff Grime is a member of the Boys & Girls Club of Bluffton board of directors as well as the Palmetto Bluff Shooting Club. Grime is relatively new to sporting clays as he was introduced to it during another charity shoot, but says he loves getting the chance to participate in such “an exciting and enjoyable sport.” His experience on the new course at Palmetto Bluff has allowed him to rediscover how much fun it is to test your target-shooting skills. “If you loved throwing rocks at bottles growing up, you’re going to love sporting clays,” Grime said.

Sarah Sanford is a lifelong shooter and the new Shooting Club program director at Palmetto Bluff. She describes sporting clays as a great sport “that anybody can pick up at any stage of life.”

Trap or skeet shooting uses repeatable target presentations; but sporting clays is the closest thing to actual field shooting, because the variety of targets simulates realistic hunting conditions. Throughout a course, the shooters might see targets mimicking bird flight patterns such as crossing from either side, flying straight up, looping like a skyrocket or the target could even roll and bounce on the ground like a rabbit.

It’s not just the complexity of the course that sets the Palmetto Bluff Shooting Club apart, but the pure aesthetic. The designers integrated the course into the breathtaking and untouched landscape located within Palmetto Bluff.

“Most traditional shooting courses are located in open fields or farm land,” Sanford said. “But our shooting stations are intertwined with the vines, creeks and pristine woodlands that make up Palmetto Bluff.”

Michael Perry, director of the Palmetto Bluff Shooting Club, agrees that the beauty of the course truly sets it apart. “It’s first class,” he said. “There’s a diversity in the shooting disciplines the course offers.”

According to Perry, the club is a great place to learn and develop proper shooting and safety skills. Both he and Sanford are National Sporting Clays Association qualified instructors.

Building a safe and supportive shooting community in the Lowcountry is very dear to Perry as he’s been a shooter since he can remember. At the age of five, he received his first gun for Christmas—a 20-gauge New England single shotgun. That one gift shaped his life and career.

Michael Perry and Sarah Sanford, Smoke rises from a 12-gauge shotgun, spent Fiocchi shells, the fire pit at the Palmetto Bluff Shooting Club, Lucy, Michael’s eight year old black labrador, Jeff Grimes, member of the Boys & Girls Club of Bluffton board of directors, this air conditioned tent welcomes visitors to the course.

When he was between eight and 10 years old, he began skeet and trap shooting in western Tennessee. But it was around 1990 that he was introduced to sporting clays. Perry cheerfully recalls his first sporting clays tournament during high school. He won second place that day against shooters of all ages.
“I beat the big boys,” Perry said.

From that point on, sporting clays became more than just a sport, but a passion and occupation. In college, Perry traveled around shooting clubs through the South to demonstrate his trick shooting skills. And he ran the Spring Island Shooting Club for more than 10 years before joining the staff at Palmetto Bluff.

Perry will showcase his trick shooting for the participants of the Palmetto Bluff Sporting Clays Cup. The charity shoot will include 15 teams of four and is open to experienced and merely curious shooters.
The cost to participate in this first-annual event is $250 per shooter or $1,000 per team of four. Registration begins at 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30; the event, including the demonstrations, shooting and reception should be over by 7 p.m.

Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes, bring protective eyewear and earplugs and your 12- or 20-gauge shotgun. Shells are included in the registration fee.

The money raised through this unique charity shoot will benefit the youth the Boys & Girls Club of Bluffton serves.

“At the end of the day,” Grime said, “it’s about helping the kids in our community who need us most.” 
To register for the Palmetto Bluff Sporting Clays Cup, contact Micki Schiffman with the Boys & Girls Club of the Lowcountry at (843) 379-4530 or e-mail mschiffman@bgclowcountry.org.

Learn more about the Boys & Girls Club at bglowcountry.org.

Become a Member of Palmetto Bluff Shooting Club
Memberships are still available at the Palmetto Bluff Shooting Club. The cost to join is $2,000 for Palmetto Bluff residents and $2,500 for non-residents. Membership perks include more than 1,000 targets, use of the golf carts at the course and access to training and lessons from National Sporting Clays Association-qualified instructors Michael Perry and Sarah Sanford. For more information, call (843) 706-6020.

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