Shooters can have a blast at Flint Skeet and Trap Club

Ed Stamper, manager and president of Flint Trap and Skeet Club in Albany, fires a shot Wednesday on the club’s sporting clays range.

ALBANY — Watching Ed Stamper and Nick Vagiano making the rounds, blasting clay pigeons, it’s easy to see why sporting clays is referred to as “golf with a shotgun.”

The two made the rounds of 12 stations at Flint Skeet and Trap Club on Wednesday morning as the clay targets were hurled into the air by the two stations at each stop.

Along the way there were several stations that rolled the targets along the ground to simulate rabbits that gave the longtime shooters a challenge as the discs wobbled and bounced and usually escaped safely into the brush unharmed.

“I never saw a clay target until someone took me to a course in Western New York,” said Vagiano, a native of that state who now lives in Americus. “They said you get to shoot at 100 targets instead of three pheasants. I said ‘Let’s go.’”

Skeet and trap shooters are regimented, and there is no banter as they move the 20 feet from station to station to take their five shots, Stamper said. But the sporting clays area is different.

“We like sporting clays because you can talk; we can have a good time,” Vagiano said.

At the club, the sporting clays stations are spread over several acres of woodland, with the stations that toss the moving targets flinging them from odd angles, whereas skeet and trap are lobbed in a set pattern for each station.

“You see in sporting clays people trying to help each other,” Stamper said. “You won’t see that with skeet.”

The club has a long history in the county, formed sometime in the 1920s. It was located next to the former Radium Springs Casino and was headquartered in a log building until it moved to its current location at 1319 Lily Pond Road.

“It moved here from Radium Springs in 1964,” said Stamper, who joined in 2001, became manager a year later and now serves as president and manager.

It has been the site of at least one state championship and competitions among shooters from Alabama, Florida and Georgia. It is the practice site for the Worth County 4-H Club team that won the state and national championships in 2018 and for several Georgia Independent School Association teams.

Sporting clays has gained in popularity at the course, and since the club’s course opened in 2013 it has hosted fundraisers to assist organizations, including Ronald McDonald House. Three other benefits are scheduled through Nov. 9.

“We would be glad to put on charity shoots for anybody who wants to put them on,” said Stamper, who can be contacted at (229) 395-4778 about holding an event or joining the club.

Annual membership is $125. Members get a break on the costs of shooting, but the course is open to the public from 2 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays and Sundays and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. The club also hosts corporate events.

Visitors should bring a 20- or 12-gauge shotgun. Shells are for sale at the club.

Getting into clays shooting is relatively inexpensive, with a suitable shotgun starting at $250, Vagiano said.

“I’m saying for $400 or $500 you can get into this sport and have a good time,” he said.

Stamper said people from all walks of life enjoy the club.

“We get working-class people, we get doctors and lawyers, plantation owners, people who work at plantations,” the owner/manager said. “We get a lot of dove shooters come in a month or so before dove season.”

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