COLUMBUS, Kan. (AP) — Southeast Kansas and southwest Missouri are expected to profit from a national championship in sporting clays shooting taking place at Claythorne Lodge in Cherokee County.
The U.S. Open Sporting Clays Championship starts Monday and runs through Sunday. It is expected to draw shooters from up to 47 states and several countries, The Wichita Eagle reported (http://bit.ly/1jMblu1 ).
Officials from surrounding towns are ready to welcome the tournament’s 1,200 participants to area motels and restaurants.
“It’s happening in Parsons. It’s happening in Pittsburg. It’s happening in Joplin and all the small towns,” said Jim Zaleski, Labette County tourism director. “This is all money coming in from the outside. We’re going to see a real up-kick in sales tax revenues.”
Sporting clays tournaments are set up on sprawling courses that are designed to be different from other courses. Machines throw or roll various sizes and colors of targets to replicate hunting situations, such as pheasants flying above treetops or rabbits running across the prairie.
Joe Cantey, owner of a shooting sports course in South Carolina, said about 300 target throwers will be spread over about 600 acres. More than 1.24 million targets could be launched through the week.
“It’s absolutely one of the best facilities in the country,” Cantey said. “We’re always glad to come to (southeast) Kansas.”
More than 200 people work at the event, said Frieda Lancaster, who owns Claythorne Lodge along with her husband, Sam. The shooting stations will be monitored by more than 100 referees, who ensure shooters’ safety, operate the target machines and score whether the targets are hit. The scores for many different classifications of shooters are kept at a command center with specially programmed computers.
When they aren’t competing, the participants are likely to be exploring the region, Zaleski said.
“Not everybody shoots every day, so they’ll have some free time,” Zaleski said. “It’s great that at most events, like conferences, we get (visitors) for three days. These people will be here for a week or more.”
Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com