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Taking Aim: Passion drives Scatterguns to range

by Brandon RobertsWestern News
| January 26, 2009 11:00 PM

The snow drifted lightly on a crisp afternoon – silent and peaceful. An exhale of human exhaust steadies the nerves as the shotgun is brought taut into the shoulder.

Eyes blaze down the barrel, finding focus on the forested backdrop just above the housing about to expel the clay trap.

“Pull,” and the bird crosses the sky, humming at 55 mph. Head attached to stock, they follow the forlorn flight.

A blast shatters winter’s hushed weather and with precision, repetition, or just beginner’s luck, the trap – once whole – is now shards caught in gravity’s grip.

The remaining lead shot echoing into the woods beyond, like a finger to lips, quieting the world once more.

Like Dave Cummings, the many that gathered Saturday at the Libby range were there because of passion and a dedication to a sport and lifestyle.

“This is one of the best sports,” Cummings said. “Good for everyone from 8 to 80. You can stand there with a $50 or a $15,000 gun, it is all about practice.”

Calling himself bird-crazy, Cummings uses the Libby range to hone his competitive nature and keep his wits for bird hunting the following fall.

“Libby needs a place like this, as well as role models for our youth,” Cummings said. “Like any good sport, it gives people and kids something to focus on.

“We need focus, we need a goal,” he continued. “Forget what you did when you did it wrong and remember what you did when it was right.”

A member of the Libby Scatterguns, his message spans beyond the barrel and echoes true for taking aim in life, not just on the range.  

The Scatterguns are a special committee of the Libby Rod and Gun Club, which has more than a century of history and impact in Lincoln County. The range is composed of U.S. Forest Service land permitted to Lincoln County with target stations and a clubhouse paid for through grants.

Recent construction at the range was done by a volunteer crew and now is competition-ready for five-station trap shoots and a skeet field featuring a high and low house.

At the open house, Range Manager Tom Bailey helped first-timers get outfitted and on the range to share his love and commitment to the sport.

“People come for different motivations – competition or birding skills,” Bailey said. “Whatever it is, it is good to see them out.”

The Libby range is located across from the airport on Farm to Market Road. The entrance is marked with a green sign.