The clay target machine at the new shotgun range at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center can be operated via remote control.
Hunters and those who enjoy shotgun shooting for sport now have a new place to practice their skills. The Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center (CEWC) recently opened new shooting ranges where the public can participate in skeet, trap and 5-stand shooting activities.
At the ranges, clay targets are shot from a machine into the air, either high or low to the ground, and shooters try to hit as many as they can.
Some folks shoot the clay targets just for sport, said Charlie Killmaster, wildlife biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, whose office is based at CEWC. Others want to practice their hunting skills.
Depending on the height at which they are shot, the clay targets can simulate rabbits running into the brush, or different types of birds, such as doves or ducks, flying overhead. Clay target shooters can deploy the targets with a remote control
"We have a lot of demand for people looking for new and unique opportunities like this," said Charlie Killmaster, wildlife biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, whose office is based at CEWC.
Killmaster said the range is the first and only range of this type available on public land in Georgia.
"We looked at it as way to encourage young hunters and bring new hunters into the sport. These new ranges provide opportunities to learn to shoot before going hunting," said Killmaster. "It's getting harder and harder to find a place to shoot, outside of a range."
Funding for the ranges came from the Federal Wildlife and Sport Restoration Program, the National Rifle Association, Breedlove Land Planning, Inc. and Gay Construction Company.
The shotgun range is located adjacent to the CEWC existing rifle and pistol ranges. Those ranges are used by target shooters and hunters alike, said Killmaster.
Typically an excess of 1,000 people per month visit the ranges, and in peak times, such as October just before deer hunting season, as many 3,000 people per month use the ranges, said Killmaster.
Range officers are stationed at all the range locations.
"We have pretty stringent safety rules in place," said Killmaster. "Range officers are there and providing assistance every hour that the range is open."
Those who don't have a hunting license are required to obtain a Georgia Outdoor Recreation Pass to use the range. Three-day passes are $3.50 for an individual or $10 for a group. Annual passes are $19 for individual or $35 for a group. There are also transaction fees, and a round of 25 clays is $6.25.
The range is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and is located at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center, 543 Elliott Trail in Mansfield, Ga.
Killmaster said he hopes the range brings out more young hunters with their families.
"This provides a low pressure environment where you can teach them," said Killmaster.
To learn more, visit www.charlieelliott.org.