From the Alamo Quarry, it may be possible to discern a faint popping sound in the distance, continuous yet irregular. This sound originates from a half dozen or so people firing shotguns just a mile away. The San Antonio Gun Club, at 928 East Contour Drive, lays nestled in the woods behind Olmos Basin. It is widely known as the oldest active gun club in the United States, as well as the only one left inside of a metropolitan area. Though the club was officially chartered in 1921, it claims to trace its roots all the way back to a local German rifle club that started in the late 19th Century.
When I first heard there was a shotgun range this close to Trinity, I knew that I had to check it out, and, if possible, try their trap and skeet fields. The sport of trap and skeet, for those who didn’t spent a chunk of their childhood with a shotgun in hand, is based on shooting small colored discs called clay pigeons, which are propelled into the air by a machine. I can readily guarantee that it’s a great deal of fun.
“The difference between this and rifle shooting is that here they’re all moving targets,” said Misha Brazil, a trap boy at the club. As a trap boy, Misha’s job is to “” among other things “” help maintain the club and clean up the mountains of broken clay pigeons that accumulate around the fields. We talked a while in the main building, a place full of stuffed animals of every kind (including a lion and a bear”¦ oh my), and Misha informed me that the club frequently hosted international shooters, coming from as far as Russia and China. I also learned that the club was a USAS Certified Training Center, meaning that its facilities and instructors were considered ideal for the training of potential Olympic grade shooters.
Another good thing about this place is that the cost really isn’t too intimidating. You can rent a shotgun for just $5, and buy a round of skeet, consisting of 25 clay pigeons, for $8.75. The only problem is that it can get a bit addicting, and that round of 25 might disappear a little too fast. For those that want to give it a shot, I would recommend making it more of a group activity, so that you can collectively buy more rounds and break them up to make them last longer. Of course, if you and your friends have never done it before, you should definitely get some kind of instruction first for safety’s sake. Fortunately, they teach this sport at Trinity.
“[Shooting] teaches you several intangibles,” said Coach Van Boemer, coach of the trap & skeet team and P.E. class, “It helps you to maintain discipline, maintain confidence and maintain your temper under pressure.” Boemer, in addition to teaching the class for the last 10 years, is a certified instructor, former Marine and lifelong trap & skeet enthusiast. He seems to knows what he’s talking about.
So let’s review: Trap & skeet is beneficial, fun, relatively inexpensive, nearby and, for those who have a moral objection to harming animals, a guilt free hunting simulation. Overall, I think the San Antonio Gun Club merits a visit, but maybe you should go sooner rather than later. With all this talk about increased gun control, who knows whether or not the San Antonio Gun Club has to worry about breaking its 92-year active streak.