Plains is known for many things like the Clark Fork River, the sweeping hills, the mountains and canyons, even a few fantastic hiking locations.
Few people, however, would realize that one of the choice trap shoots for many enthusiasts is held in the Plains Trap Club Shooting Range. Participants came from across the country, especially from the northwest, to partake in the special event on the first weekend of August. The shotguns used in the competition ranged in prices from $500 to nearly $30,000.
Many participants have returned several years in a row, Jerry Harms, of Las Vegas, has come consistently for about seven years and says “this shoot is so special in that it’s hosted so well. The prizes are excellent, and the meal they cook, on Saturday night, is exquisite.”
This year’s shoot had 60 participants, all competing against each other, organized into around 14 squads. Participants can be anywhere from 12 years old up to until they cannot hold a shotgun up to a target anymore; some participants this year were as old as 85 or more.
They competed in three events: the single shoot which was held at the 16 yard line, the handicap event which took the longest and in which competitors move around based on their skill level at any given time, and finally a doubles competition where two targets are simultaneously released.
The shoot was a “100-bird” competition, meaning that each event had 100 clay targets, and the winner was the shooter who broke the most in a given event.
The event was worked by many volunteers, several of whom were local youth interested in the sport, and some of whom are themselves excellent shooters. John McLendon, from Spokane said that “The volunteers are well trained and always looking for something to do, instead of just sitting around. Everyone is incredibly nice, and it is always a treat to come to this shoot. That is why so many people keep coming back.” The event has been held for around 9 or 10 years and the club has been around since the construction of their facility in 1999. Participants payed a $3 ATA fee each day, along with $32 per event. They also had the option to pay in to win larger pots of money, depending on their performances. Some of these money prizes could run up well over $1000.
The ATA is the largest clay target shooting organization in the world and acts as an ambassador for the sport as well as governing the rules and regulations. The organization has been around since the 1900s and was originally known as the American Trapshooting Association, but ATA now stands for the Amateur Trapshooting Association.