TEXARKANA, Ark. — On the first Saturday of 2021, a dozen or so shooters took to the clay target range at Rocky Creek USA Outdoor Shooting Range.
The clay target enthusiasts — some local, some from out of town — celebrated the New Year with enthusiasm for this particular brand of marksmanship.
"Lance (Keen) throws some good shooting tournaments, good, tough targets," said John Calandro, clay shooting fan and owner/operator of his own gun shop, Clay Shooters Supply, that caters to this hobby. "The shooting season is just taking off and this weekend was a good one to catch a shooting match."
Calandro said there are some good tournaments in the Dallas area, but that was not the case the first weekend of the new year.
"It's all the rotation of the competitions," he said. "That's what brought me all the way to Texarkana. Plus, there are tournaments here with some good cash prizes. This trip is about scouting out the range, getting a lay of the land."
Calandro, 33, has been shooting for about 20 years, with an emphasis on sporting clay and trap. He said the community is part of what keeps him going.
"There's great people in this hobby," he said. "The competition is top-notch. And there's lots of variety in the range terrain."
The hobby is not cheap and most of the cost is up front.
"A good starting gun (a shotgun) in this hobby is about $1,800," he said. "You need on average about $250 for accessories, like ear and eye protection. And then there is ammo, which is a never-ending expense, however long you are in the hobby, as well as targets."
But for those who are good, there are cash prizes. That's what awaits the best shooters as the season wears on.
"Lots of people will be coming out to lanes this year," said Lance Keen, Rocky Creek USA range operator. "We will have monthly tournaments of clay and trap that offer a top cash prize of $6,500. In addition, we will have various events that we do every year to benefit various organizations."
(Rocky Creek USA Outdoor Shooting Range is at 4001 S. State Line Ave.)