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Shooting clay pigeons on JBLM

Dan Albro, of Puyallup, participates in the monthly Sporting Clays competition at the JBLM Skeet and Trap Range on Lewis Main. JBLM PAO photo.

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Winter in western Washington usually involves a lot of rain and sometimes a little snow. Either way, it’s a time when playing a round of golf can be difficult. It’s possible, but it’s not as fun as the spring and summer time.

On Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a different game of golf was played recently at the Skeet and Trap Range on 2nd Division Range Road near Lewis Main.

Rather than hitting a golf ball with a variety of clubs through nine to 18 holes, regulars of the monthly Sporting Clays competition had 10 stations of trap shooting clay pigeons with their shotguns. The goal was to score as many out of 100 flying targets as possible.

Although it’s not like golf in a traditional sense, Sporting Clays has a lot of the same characteristics that earned it the nickname “golf with shotguns.”

Shooters keep their own scores through the honor system. They also gather within the nearby building for coffee and donuts before they start and a lunch after they’re done.

And just like when friends converse after playing a round of 18 holes, there might be some friendly criticism when scores are revealed.

“I do it because if I didn’t do it, they’d shame me; but then when I do it, they still shame me,” said Wayne Donaldson with a laugh.

Donaldson has been a regular Sporting Clays participant for the last four years. His best score overall was 67, but he still comes out and enjoys taking another shot at getting a higher score on the 100-target challenge.

“You’re only as good as your last shot,” Donaldson said.

The people who come out to compete include a number of veterans from all branches of the military. Many of them served with either the Army or Air Force and were stationed at JBLM. In addition, current service members show up to test their accuracy.

Both current and retired military service members also bring their children as a way of introducing them to the sport of trap shooting.

“This is our social life,” Lyle Thomasson said.

That sentiment is felt for a number of regulars who enjoy coming out for the monthly competition on the first Saturday of each month. The event is part of JBLM Outdoor Recreation’s efforts to provide hunting and shooting options.

“It’s a friendly competition, but shooting is our heritage,” said Kevin Meehan, a retired Army major.

David Pedroza, manager of the JBLM Skeet and Trap Range, has seen the event evolve since first becoming involved in 2003. He said he hasn’t missed one of 139 consecutive Sporting Clay competitions since November of that year.

Because of how much it has meant to people who come on a regular basis, Sporting Clays has become an event that he and his staff at the range take pride in, he said.

“This event you couldn’t afford to miss,” Pedroza said. “We always ensured our leave never conflicted with Sporting Clays.”

The next Sporting Clays competition is set for March 4 with registration starting at 9 a.m. Shooting is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. For more information, call 253-967-7056.

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