The Siuslaw Rod & Gun Club

Shooting sporting clays at the Siuslaw Rod & Gun Club in Oregon. 

I spent the first 10 days of June in Reedsport, Oregon.

The first four days were spent in Coos Bay at the Festival of Sail. The next five days were spent visiting with my daughter and her family in Reedsport and celebrating the birthdays of my son-in-law and nephew.

The last day was spent shooting sporting clays at the Siuslaw Rod & Gun Club, which was named after the Siuslaw River that runs from the mountains through Florence, Oregon, and on to the sea.

To get to the Siuslaw Rod & Gun Club, we had to drive north on Highway 101 out of Reedsport to Florence. Just as we were leaving Florence, we turned west off Highway 101 and drove a half-mile to the gun club.

After checking in, we proceeded to the sporting clays range behind the clubhouse. There, we found a five position range with a small protective shed housing the throwing machine.

In sporting clays, one shoots five shots from each of five positions, which completes one round. A shooter gets only one shot at each of 25 clay pigeons thrown for him. Additional rounds cost more for each round. Most of the members of our group, which consisted of eight of my son-in-law’s friends, shot one or two rounds.

I didn’t think to take my shotgun to Reedsport with me, so one of the club instructors was kind enough to lend me a very nice over/under break open 2-shot 12-gauge shotgun. I was even coached on how to be more successful at hitting the clay pigeons as they came flying out of the throwing machine.

Most of us were poor to mediocre sporting clay shooters and consoled each other with the fact that no one was much better than anyone else.

When my turn to shoot a round came, it started to rain. However, I really didn’t notice because I was so focused on picking up the clay pigeons, leading them a little, and shooting before it got more than 40 yards away from me where the shot pattern starts to spread out.

Because I spend very little time with this type of shotgun shooting, I was satisfied with the hits I managed to get. I really need to practice sporting clays shooting more often, though.

After all of us had shot as many rounds as we wanted to shoot, four of the better shooters who had decided to shoot last stepped up and shot a round. Out of 100 shots between them, I think there were only three clay pigeons that weren’t hit.

It really was a fun day, but I can’t figure out how I got so wet. I looked like I had been through a rainstorm when I finished shooting. If so, I was having too much fun to notice.

Smokey Merkley was raised in Idaho and has been hunting since he was 10 years old. He was a member of the faculty of Texas A&M University for 25 years. There he taught orienteering, marksmanship, self-defense, fencing, scuba diving and boxing. He was among the first DPS-certified Texas Concealed Handgun Instructors. He can be contacted at