Piedmont Handgunner’s Association hosts open house
It was in the heat of the summer that we shot on those early Wednesday afternoons. We were all in our mid-twenties to thirties and we all loved shooting. That spring, we’d attended a Metallic Silhouette pistol match in Rowan County, and the seven of us fell in love with competing with a pistol. The shooting was challenging. We shot steel silhouettes of chickens, pigs, turkeys, and rams from 25 to 100 yards, standing, with iron sighted pistols. The chickens were about the size of a dove, the turkey, at 75 yards, was smaller than a real chicken, and the ram’s body was six inches from back to chest and only twelve inches long.
It was exciting shooting though, because the turkeys and rams were so far away there was a discernible time lapse between the report of the gun and the clang of the falling metal target. The distance was great enough that you had to adjust your sights or hold over for the long shots, so we needed a place to practice and work out our hold.
My daddy had a cow pasture with a hill after a fairly flat one hundred yards, and we drove stakes in the ground to designate the distances. The one hundred yard shot was on the other side of a gulley but we didn’t mind jumping it to shoot the rams. We couldn’t afford to buy metallic silhouette targets, so we cut out a template of the targets, and sprayed the images with black paint on pieces of surplus Thomasville Furniture cardboard boxes. This gave us a single practice chicken, pig, turkey and ram on a cardboard target we stapled to stakes in the ground. This probably helped our shooting more than if we were shooting real targets, because we could easily see where our misses were going.
Piedmont Handgunner’s Association was formed in 1979, in the summer following one of those first practice sessions, and our goal was to eventually have a range where others could come and shoot. Developments were springing up everywhere and it was getting harder and harder to find a place to shoot. There were no commercial ranges. Most of my friends I and were lucky to live in rural areas like my cow pasture where we could shoot but we knew most folks weren’t that fortunate. We collected annual dues and put money in the pot at every single practice. Mont Mendenhall then let us use his property, and eventually we had enough money to build a rudimentary range. We figured out how to hold matches of our own, and Piedmont Handgunner’s Association was chartered and affiliated with the National Rifle Association. Within four years, starting with seven guys who loved to shoot, PHA held the 1983 National Hunters Pistol Silhouette Championship.
Now, over 30 years later, PHA has over 700 members and is one of the largest gun clubs in the state. The club is a nonprofit organization, affiliated with the NRA, the North Carolina Rifle and Pistol Association, and the Civilian Marksmanship Program. Membership is available on two levels, annual membership and a stock ownership program. The club hosts matches in rifle, pistol, and shotgun disciplines and can accommodate almost any kind of shooting. The range is open to members from 8 a.m. to sundown 365 days a year. It is a complete, membership based shooting facility.
Gun clubs, like all other organizations, have to grow in order to remain viable. In the last ten years, the membership levels of PHA have almost tripled due to the club putting more focus on community service and gaining public awareness. Competitors in the club’s matches don’t have to be a member, and can see what the club has to offer, but most recreational shooters don’t compete. The open house events are aimed at those who’re interested in shooting but not interested in competing or just not at that level yet. The events have been a huge success, bringing new members and interests into the organization. The club is bigger and has more to offer, but the goal is still the same, to provide ordinary folks a place to enjoy recreational shooting and compete if they have the desire.
Saturday, September 28, is PHA’s Fall Open House and anyone with an interest in shooting is invited. In the last few years, the interest in shooting has skyrocketed. Many new shooters have no idea where or how to get started. This event is open to everyone who’s into shooting whether they’ve been a shooter for years or they’ve never fired a gun but want to learn. There will be door prize drawings all day with prizes like Concealed Carry Classes and a Delorm GPS system in the drawings.
There will be an opportunity to sight in your hunting rifle or shoot some clays with your shotgun. You can shoot an M1 or AR 15 rifle on the high power rifle range, and there will be short action pistol and tactical rifle events for new shooters to experience. You don’t have to own a gun to participate; there’ll be guns and ammunition available for you to try. For anyone wishing to try his luck there’ll be a gallery .22 shoot with a S&W M&P .22 for the winner.
From 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, with free food and drinks and door prizes, this will be a memorable day and a great way to learn more about recreational shooting, get your hunting rifle sighted in, or check out a great place to shoot. If you’d like to know more about recreational shooting, or you’re a confirmed shooter or hunter who needs a place to shoot, or just to check his deer rifle, this is an event you don’t want to miss.
Piedmont Handgunner’s Association is located at 10346 South Hwy. 150 in Linwood, N.C. For more information about PHA and the Open House on September 28, go to phashoots.com or call 336 764 0407 or (336) 869-1865.
Dick Jones is an award winning freelance writer living in High Point. He’s a member of the board of directors of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association. If you’d like to have him speak to your group, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
WANT TO GO?
The Yadkin Valley Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation Annual Fundraiser Banquet will be held Thursday, September 19 at 6 p.m. at the Richard Childress Racing Facility on 425 Industrial Drive, in Welcome. Prizes include Guns, Concealed Carry classes, dog training, hunts, outdoor and local services, there’s even a country ham on the prize list. In fact, there are tons of prizes because one prize is 18 tons of gravel.
Yadkin Valley Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation is the local chapter of the national organization, and serves Davidson, Forsyth, Yadkin and Rowan counties, actively supporting all types of conservation efforts with sporting and community events for adults and youth planned throughout the year. Tickets are available from Don Stroud at (336) 682-3456
— DICK JONES