Appalachian Basin

A Day of Sport for Natural Gas and Education

How would you like to shoot a dozen and a half birdies (or maybe more) in the same round?  Instead of a driver, a 5 iron and a putter, you’ll be using something like an “over and under,” and the “birdies” will be disks made of baked clay or some modern substitute.  The game we’re talking about here is called “sporting clays,” and it’s often described as “golfing with a shotgun.”

If you’ve never tried the sport, which has been kicking around this country only since 1980, here’s your chance: Lackawanna College is sponsoring its second annual sporting clays tournament at Rock Mountain Sporting Clays in Springville.

The tournament, on Saturday, September 15th, will benefit the college’s petroleum and natural gas technology programs and also scholarships at Lackawanna’s New Milford center, where those programs are based.

Proceeds from the tournament support the only complete petroleum and natural gas degree program in the Northeast, and it’s a real meet-and-greet kind of thing, a great social affair. You can’t talk if you’re playing in a golf tourney, but you sure can do that at a shooting event like this.Rick Marquardt, Director of Energy Programs at Lackawanna College.

Related to skeet and trap shooting, sporting clays hail from England, where the century-old sport was devised by shooting schools with the aim of simulating the many different target scenarios that could confront a hunter. In fact, when Field & Stream magazine first called American sportsmen’s attention to the pastime 30-odd years ago, the story was captioned, “At Last, A Clay Target Game For Hunters.”

Like golf, the sporting clays game is played out on an overland course, which at Rock Mountain runs about a mile. All along the course are shooting stations where targets — often called “clay pigeons” — are winged in front of the gunner in myriad ways — sometimes crossing from either side and arcing high in the air, sometimes coming toward the shooter, sometimes heading away or coming overhead from behind.

The targets can be presented singly or two at a time — both at once or in quick succession — and the size and color of the “pigeon” can vary. Sometimes the disks are even sent bouncing across the turf, so-called “rabbits.”

At Rock Mountain, the course will have 17 stations with anywhere from two to eight raised wooden stands at each station. The landscape along the course varies from woods to fields, with towers, a cliff and a valley. The stations and stands are all accessible from a golf cart or ATV, which you’re invited to bring if you have one, and the path is an easy walk or ride.

Even though the sport was devised early last century with the hunter in mind, you don’t have to be one of those or even a shooting enthusiast to fall in love with the sport. A case in point is Larry Milliken, who founded the energy programs at Lackawanna College and recently retired as their director. He felt he should take part in last year’s tournament, but didn’t own a shotgun.

Rock Mountain Sporting Clays

“Rick Marquardt had a conflict and couldn’t be there so I borrowed his gun,” Milliken says. “I’d never done anything like it before, and it was so darned much fun I went out, bought a gun and did a lot of shooting over the winter.”

Tournament chairman Chuck Coccodrilli says Milliken’s experience wasn’t even unique. More than a dozen other first-time shooters at last year’s tournament have taken up the sport, he says.

And Milliken sees a sporting clays tournament as a great alternative to a golf tourney, and he loves golfing. While he discussed his enjoyment of sporting clays, he was out playing a round of golf with some friends and talking on his cell phone. “Sporting clays is probably the most enjoyable sport I’ve ever tried,” he says.

Some 49 shooters took part in last year’s tournament and about 60 are expected this time around, including a women’s team and a team made up of students from the college. A student team also competed last year.

This is a tournament for four-member teams, each with a designated captain. Prizes for the top shooters will be cases of RST shotshells, manufactured by the Classic Shotshell Co. of Friendsville. There will also be a raffle with a top prize of an Ithaca Gun Company Western Arms Model side-by-side 12-gauge shotgun. Companies and individuals are invited to donate other items for raffle.

Like most tournaments, this one has sponsors drawn from the corporate world. Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. is sponsoring the lunch that will follow the tournament and which will be provided by Pecos Bill’s BBQ of New Milford. Everon Electrical Contractors, Inc., of Moosic, is picking up the tab for the continental breakfast that will be served that morning during registration.  Sponsorship opportunities are still available.

The entry fee to participate in the tournament is $120 for an individual and $400 for a team of four. Ammunition and the clay targets are included in the fee. Non-shooters are invited to join the lunchtime festivities, which includes the awards ceremony, at $25 per person.

Registration starts at 9 a.m, the tournament at 10. Lunch will be at 1 p.m., and the awards ceremony will start at 2. To register or for more information, call Bridget Fitzpatrick at 570-961-7818. You can also register online at To donate a raffle prize or become a sponsor, please call Jennifer Fifth at 570-465-2344.

A limited number of golf carts will be available on a rental basis. For these, call Susan  at Rock Mountain at 570-965-7625. Directions to Rock Mountain are posted here or use these GPS coordinates: N 41.41.18, W 75.57.46.  Using a street address often doesn’t work.

Supporters of the petroleum and natural gas programs at Lackawanna College include Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., Chesapeake Energy Corp., Cudd Energy Services, Dresser-Rand Group, Eagle Research Corp., EXCO Resources, Exterran Holdings, Halliburton, Harbison-Fischer Manufacturing Co., Hess Corp., J-W Energy Co., J-W Measurement Co., Noble Energy, Talisman Energy USA, TAM International, Weatherford International and Williams Companies, Inc./Midstream.

Interested?  Well, contact Bridget Fitzpatrick at 570-961-7818 or Jennifer Fifth at 570-465-2344.

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