March in Sun Valley is coming in like a lion with significant snowfall falling over the past week and more predicted through the weekend. The month will also not go out like the proverbial lamb, because the Toyota U.S. Alpine Championships, a world-class event, is coming to Baldy’s storied slopes from March 21 to 26. You won’t want to miss a minute of this celebration of amazing ski racing and mountain culture.
The action returns! Sun Valley last hosted the U.S. Alpine Championships in 2016. It was so great,...
While guns of any kind are a bit scary to those who don’t normally handle them, there is no better or more popular place to shoot for the first time than the Sun Valley Gun Club.
With a history that dates back to the 1930s, the Sun Valley Gun Club has literally taught thousands upon thousands of people how to safely handle and fire shotguns. The folks at Beretta even estimate that the exceptionally seasoned staff at Sun Valley teaches more beginners annually than any other club in the country.
To try to draw a bead on why shooting at the Gun Club is so popular, as well as get some tips on learning how to shoot, I spent some time with Sun Valley Gun Club manager J.C. Dovey.
“We encourage people who have never shot, or who have shot very little, to come on over,” J.C. said, explaining that the key to the Gun Club’s success with beginners starts with his staff, which is arguably the best in the nation.
All 10 instructors are certified with the National Sporting Clay Association. The east-facing wall of the Gun Club, found a few miles past the Lodge on Trail Creek Road, is lined with all their framed certificates. “I don’t know of another gun club in the country with a list like that,” J.C. said, while pointing at the well-adorned wall.
But the staff isn’t just full of good shots, like J.C who has over 50 years of competitive shooting experience including being invited to the Olympic try-outs three times. They’re also all pretty darn good people, too. They are all professional instructors who take pride in helping and sharing their passions with others. People like Brook “Trout” Leiphart who has also been also been a popular kids skiing instructor for a decade and a half. “It’s a lot of fun here,” he said.
“Everybody who works here really enjoys doing a good job,” J.C. said with pride.
“Anybody can shoot,” J.C. explained, pointing out that trap shooting doesn’t require any special physical abilities. That’s why everyone from youngsters of appropriate size and age (usually around 12 and up) to folks in wheelchairs can have a fun day shooting. It’s also why more women are getting into shooting sporting clays in one game or another.
“It doesn’t take extra strength or size to be successful shooting,” J.C. said. “Girls like the sport just like the guys do and there’s no reason why a girl can’t get as good or better than any guy out there,”
A certified instructor accompanies everyone who books time shooting, something most clubs don’t offer. So whether it’s your first time or 50th, there’s a seasoned pro there to help you improve and enjoy yourself.
Beginners can be in groups as large as five and are taken to shoot trap, a game that has the orange clay targets flying away from you. The guests shoot 25 shots while rotating around the shooting platform. The 12 gauge, over-under Browning shotgun used for beginners has no noticeable kickback and is very easy to shoot.
J.C. said the key to becoming a good shot are to figure out which is your dominant eye, to keep your head down and body in the proper position, and to remember to shoot in front of the moving target.
“The target isn’t going to stop or back up for you,” J.C. joked. “We don’t want anyone especially younger folks, having a bad experience. The idea is that we can make people comfortable, safe and successful. We want all of our shooters to have a good time.”
[For more information about the Sun Valley Gun Club or to book a time to shoot (which is recommended), please call 208.622.2111]
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