Regional Sporting Clay Championship in March
At Caney Creek Shooting Sports
Caney Creek Shooting Sports was recently awarded the South Central Regional Sporting Clay Championship, which will be held at the facility next March with up to 1,000 people expected to attend. It?s a major league event in sporting clays and will hopefully be just the beginning of many world class shooting events to come to Caney Creek Lodge.
Caney Creek Lodge & Shooting Sports is centrally located near Interstate 45 north of Teague. Owners Justin and Beth Bounds and Justin?s mother, Kitty Granger have worked hard to ensure there is plenty to do year-around at Caney Creek Lodge. The 10,000 sq. ft. newly remodeled lodge sits on 500 serene acres that have been in their family since 1849.
Justin?s grandfather, Frank Short, built Caney Creek Lodge as a family place. He was an avid hunter and sportsman, including building the Waco Gun Club skeet range. It was here that Justin began shooting skeet with his grandfather.
Justin?s whole family has hunted all over the world and it was only natural for Caney Creek to become a premier hunting venue. ?My grandfather passed away about 13 years ago and my wife and I moved into this house,? he said. When the Bounds took it over around 2000, they remodeled the whole building and put an exotic game fence around the property and started selling hunts, doing Bed & Breakfasts, weddings and special events. Beth Bounds gets credit for the astounding range of Native American art pieces ? including unique paintings of warriors and medicine men in war paint ? along with lots of different artifacts.
Caney Creek is now getting more and more established for its sporting clay shoots. ?In 2010, we began sporting clays to fill the gap between the hunting that is busy in winter and slow in summer. It?s the opposite with sporting clays where it is busy in summer and slow in winter,? Bounds said. In 2011, Caney Creek was voted the Texas Sporting Clay Association Club of the Year. It was a sign how far they had progressed in the sporting clays field in just 2 yrs.
Many people are unfamiliar with sporting clays shoots, but that?s changing thanks to the efforts of Bounds and others dedicated to its growth. There are three possible games with shotguns, Bounds said - skeet, trap and sporting clays. ?Sporting clays have quickly become the most popular by far. It is the fastest-growing shooting sport in the world and the best way to describe it is that it?s golf with a shotgun. With skeet, the shooter stays in one place and the targets all look the same. It?s the same with trap-- you shoot from one position and all targets look the same.? In sporting clays, the shooters move from station to station ? each presenting different shooting scenarios and challenges. Bounds said each course usually has 12 to 15 different stations. Each course is different because there is always a different terrain. ?Imagine, on a typical clay course there are two portable machines, each hidden and throwing a different hunting situation, but you don?t see where they are or when they are coming. ?
The machines cost about $2,500 and up for each one. They can be moved and they can be adjusted to allow for different speeds, angles, elevations, distances, trajectories and target sizes ? all designed to simulate the traits of game animals and birds. You rarely get the same experience twice in a row so it is never boring.
To achieve the look of game, the bio-degradable clay targets vary in size, color and what they do. At one station, Bounds demonstrates how targets are shot into the air to simulate the flight of different game birds - they?re black, to be better seen against the sky. In another simulation, shooters can be surprised by a different-shaped target like a rabbit that skitters along the ground. It?s orange so they?re distinguishable against the backdrop of land.
Clay shooters typically use 12 gauge shotguns on a sporting clay course, Bounds said.
The course tests skill levels close and far. Targets can come at you ? like a duck landing on a pond - or they can fly off, like quail. There are a many different variables available, Bounds said.
?We?ll completely change the terrain.?
Following a presentation by Bounds to the City Council, the City of Fairfield allocated Caney Creek Lodge $50,000 from the city?s 2013-14 hotel tax fund to help promote the 500-acre facility for the big shooting event next March. ?Our goal here is to develop this as a destination type of shooting facility ? one of the best in the world,? said Bounds.
Bounds said most shooting facilities that could handle the infrastructure like Caney Creek ?are in metropolitan areas like San Antonio or Chicago?places like that. This is going to be a big thing for Fairfield, Freestone & Limestone County as well as Teague and possibly other counties.?
Not only are they hosting the South Central Regional Sporting Clays Championship, that same week next March, Caney Creek will host the North American FITASC Championship, which is one of three world cups in sporting clays. It?s different because the shooter has to keep his gun below his chest until both he and the umpire see the target. It?s also a contest with more stringent rules, Bounds said.
?We expect 500-600 regulation shooters to be here for a one-week-long event.? With spouses and children the regionals could attract more than 1,000 people, Bounds said.
?Studies on shoots like this indicate they bring $1.5 to $2 million to a community?s local economy. And studies have also shown each dollar spent will turn over 10 times before it leaves, said Bounds, who added that he will invest $300,000 into the infrastructure for the regionals and that doesn?t include the $50,000 the lodge got from the City of Fairfield. ?People will come from all over the world and they are people who have and will spend money. These are the best shooters in the world,? Bounds stressed.
Caney Creek has hired a shoot manager, Tim Miles from Tucson, Arizona for the event. Miles has managed several regional shoots like the one planned for March and U.S. opens, Bounds said.
?Our long-term goals are to be hosting similar size shoots at least once a year. One upcoming such event is the Texas State Shoot in 2015, which is larger than next year?s regional shoot.
The ultimate goal would be to host a U.S. open in clay sporting shoot, which would be approximately twice as large as the state shoot. ?That will fill hotel rooms even as far as Waco,? noted the lodge owners.
According to Justin Bounds, Caney Creek is about hunting all year long. For years hunters have zeroed in on Caney Creek and for good reason ? the Bounds have structured a wide range of experiences that hunters don?t forget. Home cooked meals, private bedrooms & baths, a trophy room full of beautiful mounts from around the world, a beautiful new pool and hot tub, 2 outdoor firepits are just part of that experience. There are hog hunts, exotic hunts and of course, whitetail hunts. Hunters can also choose an exotic hunt with no season, which include Axis, Fallow, Sika and Blackbuck Antelope. Now Caney Creek draws 100-plus hunters a year.
Caney Creek Shooting Sports is open to the public seven days a week and people who come to shoot get quite an experience for not a lot of money. For $40, shooters get 100 targets ?half-a-day worth of entertainment. When they pay, shooters get a shot card similar to a credit card to use at the shooting stations which have control units that control the release of targets, count the number of targets thrown and show the shooter how many targets he has left on his card.
In addition to the varied trajectories, paths and speed, the targets can be configured to be thrown up as single targets, simultaneous pairs and following pairs - one target right after the other.
Justin Bounds, 35, and his wife, Beth have two girls, Faith, 4, and Dakota, 10 as well as his mother who helps out. They feel blessed to also have an amazing local following of avid shooters in this area who have supported the Club 100 percent and have been invaluable to it?s success.
Justin got into the taxidermy business as a Teague High School student and after he graduated he opened a taxidermy business in Fairfield, The Outdoorsman, which also handled hunting and fishing equipment. He ran that business for 10 years, but a battle with leukemia left him with a low-immune system and doctors told him he shouldn?t be in taxidermy with that condition.
He?s in good health now and accompanying him around Caney Creek is ample testimony to the active life he leads now.