The Undercover Shooter — 07 August 2013


Sporting Clays In Ohio

An established facility and a relatively new one both provide enjoyable experiences

Ohio—the Buckeye State—has long been the place for serious shooters.  For 81 years the Grand American National Trapshooting Championships were held at Vandalia, before relocating to Sparta, Ill., in 2006.  The National Rifle and Pistol Matches have been held annually at Camp Perry near Port Clinton for more than a century.  Ohio was even the home of legendary exhibition shooter Annie Oakley!  That said, this Undercover Shooter set out to shoot and compare two sporting clays ranges located in the central part of the state, one being well established and the other a relative newcomer.

 

Range A 

Options for different skill levels

Billing itself as, “The finest sporting clays course in the Midwest…,” this west-central Ohio range offers beginning shooters a 50-bird manual course on seven stations. Intermediate and advanced shooters can choose a 100-bird, fully automated 12-station course, shooting from either stand A or B.

I arrived about 9:30 on a sunny Wednesday morning in June. No one was in the clubhouse, but a young man who had been working outside and saw me drive in soon entered and greeted me. I told him I wanted to shoot a round of clays, and he hesitated, saying they were still cleaning up and resetting traps from a large, three-day weekend tournament (The Ohio Cup). When I indicated I wanted to shoot just a 50-bird round, he said those traps were available and instructed me on where to locate them.

While paying the range fee of $20, I also purchased two boxes of 20 gauge shells priced at $8 per box, noticing only two brands from which to choose. When I commented on that, he said they had been having trouble getting ammunition. (But who isn’t? I thought.) As I left the clubhouse, he also mentioned that the course might still be littered from the weekend tournament. A shooting buddy of mine arrived a few minutes later, and we began the course, throwing targets for each other via push-button controls at each station.

The course was indeed littered with many empty shell cases, and trash buckets at the shooting stations overflowed with empty shell boxes. This appeared to be only a temporary condition, however, as overall the course looked well groomed and maintained. Each shooting station had a shooting stand or elevated platform in good repair, covered gun rack, and sitting bench. Shooters can choose to either walk from station to station or drive a rented golf cart along the graveled pathways.

Open since1991, this is truly a beautiful sporting clays range, the course being laid out in a rolling, mixed terrain of woodlands and open fields. The topography is so rolling, in fact, that on the first few birds thrown from some shooting stations it was difficult to accurately “read” the flight of the targets. I thought this was a positive thing—an added challenge. In addition to the sporting clays options already mentioned, this range offers a fully automated 5-Stand sporting “theater” with three levels of difficulty, including a 40-foot tower throwing incoming targets.

 

Range B 

Very accommodating and friendly

Some 45 miles to the east, this sporting clays range, opened just three years ago is situated in a relatively small woodlot on flat terrain.  As with Range A, I arrived on a Wednesday, but this time midafternoon.

Entering the clubhouse, I found the range attendant finishing up with another customer, the only other person there, and he greeted me promptly.  I told him I was new to the course, by myself, and that I wanted to shoot a 50-bird round of sporting clays.  I also added that I wanted to purchase two boxes of 12 gauge shells.

He explained that I had my choice of two shooting courses—red or blue—the red course being the more difficult.  Needing to build a little confidence in my shooting as of late, I chose the blue course.

The range attendant was very accommodating and friendly, even to the point of transporting me to the first shooting station in a golf cart and demonstrating how to use the automated target thrower.  That gesture was much appreciated, as I may not have figured out the three-second audible delay on my own.  Once I shot the first station and felt comfortable operating the thrower, he left me alone and returned to the clubhouse.

Shooting stations from the blue course mainly rimmed the woodlot and threw targets out across open farm fields.  After completing my round of 50 birds, I walked the red course back to the clubhouse and saw that its shooting stations were mainly within the woodlot.  Century-old beech trees added to the visual attraction of this course.

Both courses (red and blue) had a shooting stand or elevated platform at each station, a gun rack, sitting bench and a special chair for the person throwing targets.  A 5-Stand sporting course was located near the clubhouse.  Once back at the roomy, recently built clubhouse, I paid $20 for my 50-bird round of clays, as well as $7 each for my two boxes of 12 gauge shells and was soon on my way home.

 UNDERCOVER SHOOTER SCORECARD 

Each category is rated on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the highest score.

Editor’s note: The Undercover Shooter is an experienced recreational shooter but is not trained in technical aspects of range design and operation.

 

Range A Customer Satisfaction Rating 

 

Signage and Visibility: 5 
  • It would be hard to miss the large, colorful entrance sign to this range sitting in a mowed lawn just beside the road.  Individual shooting stations were also well marked.
Layout and Setting: 5 
  • Located within just a few miles of the highest point in Ohio (Campbell Hill: 1,549 feet), this is a beautiful sporting clays range.  The various shooting stations, winding though a mixture of woods and fields, take full advantage of the rolling topography.
Retail Product Availability: 2 
  • Retail products were limited mainly to ammunition.
Rental Availability: 5 
  • Gun rental is available, as well as golf cart rental.  The lodge may also be rented for picnics, meetings, corporate outings and fundraising events.
Staff Friendliness: 5 
  • My experience with the staff was limited to just one individual, but he was friendly and willing to help, answering all my questions.
Safety: 5 
  • The range layout appeared very safe, with no shooting stations covering or overlapping others.
  • Range rules were prominently posted.
Programs/Membership: 4 
  • Two levels of membership are offered, Outdoorsman and Sportsman. With either membership, 100 targets are priced at $27 (with a 500-round pass), and $35 per 100 targets without a pass.
  • A one-day membership is $40 and includes 100 clay targets. Shooting instruction is available upon request.
Cleanliness: 3 
  • Although shooting stations were littered with spent shell casings and trash buckets overflowed with empty shell boxes, this appeared to be a temporary condition from a recent three-day, weekend tournament.  In general, the facilities and grounds appeared in good repair and well maintained.
Comments/Impressions: 
  • This sporting clays range bills itself as, “The finest sporting clays course in the Midwest…,” and it very well may be.  In spite of the fact that it was in less than perfect condition the day I shot, it was obvious this is a top-notch facility set in beautiful, rolling country.

 

Range B Customer Satisfaction Rating 

 

Signage and Visibility: 4 
  • This sporting clays range, part of a much larger shooting complex, is well marked with signage along an adjacent Interstate highway; however, the sporting clays range itself is a bit difficult to find once you exit the highway.  I would suggest a few more directional signs.
Layout and Setting: 4 
  • This sporting clays range is located in a relatively small woodlot on level terrain.
Retail Product Availability: 2 
  • Retail products were limited mainly to ammunition, but the manager stated that more retail products, such as shooting vests, gloves, hats, etc. will be available in the near future.
Rental Availability: 5 
  • Gun rental is available, as well as golf cart rental.
Staff Friendliness: 5 
  • While at the course I met the manager and two employees, and all were very friendly and accommodating.
Safety: 5 
  • The range layout appeared very safe, with no shooting stations covering or overlapping others.  Range rules were prominently posted.
Programs/Membership: 0 
  • According to the manager, memberships will be available in the near future, but were not at the time of my visit.
Cleanliness: 5
  • The course was neat as a pin and very well maintained, with only a few stray, empty shell cases on the ground at shooting stations.
Comments/Impressions: 
  • In all fairness, this sporting clays range is part of a larger shooting complex best known for its trapshooting opportunities.  No less than 52 trap houses sit side by side, stretching more than half a mile.  A bunker trap house is also part of the complex, as is an extensive archery range.

 

 PREFERRED RANGE 

Range A is long established, larger in size and situated in a beautiful location.  Range B, on the other hand, is just three years old, smaller and situated in a flat woodlot.  Comparing the two is a bit like apples and oranges.  Range A is the more challenging of the two courses, but if you’re looking for an easier course, both in a shooting challenge and for walking, Range B fits the bill.  And after seeing how well managed Range B is, and how close to my home—just a half-hour drive away—I’m sure I’ll be shooting there again in the near future. But the Undercover Shooter’s choice is:

 Range A 

Mad River Sportsman’s Club
1055 County Road 25
Bellefontaine, Ohio, 43311-9475
937-593-8245 • www.madriversportsmansclub.com

 

All reports, comments, impressions, opinions or advice expressed in the Undercover Shooter column are solely those of independent, recreational shooting range consumers and do not necessarily represent those of the National Shooting Sports Foundation or its affiliates. Neither the NSSF nor its affiliates make any warranty or assume any liability with respect to the accuracy or reliability of any information provided by Undercover Shooter contributors. Readers are encouraged to and should perform their own investigation of the information provided herein.

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