This story was originally published in the 2013 October/November issue of Chattanooga Magazine.
Hunting in the South is a sporting tradition that is being crowded out by development, as open land for hunting dwindles. At nearby Barnsley Resort, the tradition continues through its Spring Bank Plantation, one of the Southeast’s premier hunting preserves.
“My hobby became my second career,” says Skip Smith, a native of upstate New York. Smith worked for almost 20 years at Remington Arms, Co. Inc. (The company has been looking for relocation sites around Nashville, according to an August 20 report in The Tennesseean.)
Smith is a National Sporting Clays Association (NSCA) level III instructor and the chief instructor for Spring Bank’s Caesar Guerini Shooting School. Caesar Guerini is a leading manufacturer of Italian made over and under shotguns and it has partnered with Barnsley to create a world-class shotgun school.
The instructional format is built around one or two-day sessions and it caters to all levels of experience. According to Smith, the sessions cover the fundamentals of shotgun shooting “in a relaxed environment,” using clay targets.
“There are many different shooting methods one can apply to breaking a target or shooting upland birds,” says Smith. “We believe in teaching an instinctive approach that will allow students to develop his or her own natural style.” The student to instructor ratio is roughly kept at 4:1, so each student gets the personal time needed to improve.
Beyond instruction, guests can experience the thrill of the hunt starting in October with guided quail and pheasant hunts. Both morning and afternoon excursions are offered. Packages include bird dogs, expert guides, use of a plantation vehicle, shotgun safety review, a hunting license, a bird limit and the cleaning and packaging of game. The 2,200-acre preserve occasionally features specialty hunts, a 12-station clay shooting course, membership options, and the only Caesar Guerini-sponsored Wings and Clay School in the United States.
Clay shooting is not just for men, either. Women’s gun clubs are proliferating around the Atlanta area and beyond. The Annie Oakleys and Grits women’s clubs have both visited Barnsley Resort and Spring Bank Plantation managers are considering beginning a women’s club at Barnsley.
About the Shooting School
Private Shooting Instruction (per hour, per person) $135
This includes instruction and gun rental, although ammunition and clays are not included.
One-Day Shooting School $475
Two-Day Shooting School $950
These sessions include equipment, guns, ammunition, lunch at the Woodlands Grill, plus eye and ear protection.
For dates and additional information see springbankplantation.com or to schedule a session call 770-773-7480.
Story and photography by Miles Baker