An Afternoon Of Family-Friendly Clay Shooting


The Christmas holiday is often the time when families get together from all over Arizona or the country for a few days.

The daily grind of jobs and other commitments are put on the back burner while gift exchanges, food, cards, and good conversation become the focus of each day's activities. These all happen to be indoor recreation, so about four years ago, the guys in our family set aside one afternoon for a clay bird shoot, which created a little friendly competition.
y sons, Clifford and Christopher, invited their old friends andigh schooleammates, Matt and Jake Sopeland, along with their father Mark and the tradition began.

Each Christmase get together to see who can retain the bragging rights for the next year as the champion of the clay bird tourney. Some years we will add a ringer to stiffen the competition and this Christmas, young Levi Sopeland was officially added to the roster.

elieve me, not a lot of planning is involved in this, so I ventured to Wal-Mart to purchase the birds on the day of the shoot, only to find them sold out. It became apparent that other families in Payson were planning the same thing to possibly work off a few extra holiday calories.

Needless to say I was a bit disappointed that our tradition may not happen in the year 2007, but Jake saved the day, having received four boxes of clay birds for his birthday just a few days before.

The 30-degree temperatures prompted our group to make a campfire to warm our trigger fingers and the good-natured ribbing soon followed about who would be the champion today. I did remind them that last year, yours truly had won in a shootout to break a tie at the completion of three rounds.
ith the first round completed, I regretted I had not taken my shotgun out of the case since the previous Christmas as I was in dead last, with little hope to retain the title.

In the next two hours there was a lot of laughter as clay birds landed without a pellet hitting its mark. As the smoke cleared, a new champion was crowned for the 2007 year.

I have a feeling that Jake Sopeland has been doing a little shooting on the side, as he retained the bragging rights until we meet again next Christmas season. I guess practice does improve your chances of hitting the target.

Have a great new year and enjoy the outdoors, God's creation.

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