Fired up

Published 10:49 am Monday, August 25, 2014

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS ROUNDABOUT: Shooters walk the half-mile course and pick out their next station.

ROUNDABOUT: Shooters walk the half-mile course and pick out their next station.

An unrelenting crackle of gunfire pierced the air for several hours Saturday morning along Highway 17 in Washington near Decoy Drive.

Each shotgun round fired was music to the ears of Hunters’ Pointe owner Rita Downs, as dozens of shooters — from the amateur to the polished veteran — sniped neon orange sporting clays out of the sky, all for a noble cause.

“Clays for a Cause,” hosted by Hunters’ Pointe and created by Rocking Horse Ranch board member Will Daughtery, was a charity shoot to help raise money for the Rocking Horse Ranch Therapeutic Riding Program, a nonprofit organization that provides equine assisted therapy to children and adults with a variety of physical, cognitive and psychological disabilities.

“Rocking Horse Ranch has been around for over 20 years,” said Daughtery, who has been working with the program for over 10 years. “As a board member, I was looking for an alternate way to raise money that would also engage families in a different way then we’ve done in the past.”

The charity drew more than 100 area shooters and raised thousands of dollars for the program, which hosts students from 13 counties in North Carolina, including here in Beaufort. All horses are specially trained and help riders achieve a better overall quality of life. The ultimate goal of the program is to make every child or adult become more independent, active members of their communities, Daughtery said.

“If someone is wheelchair bound, they can get on the horse and experience an unusual, even an unreal sense of freedom and that’s really special to them,” he said. “When you’re on a horse, you have to use all your fine motor skills to keep your body on the animal. The people that get to take advantage of the therapy, it’s undeniable how much joy they get from it, but their advancement is also undeniable.”

To accommodate all the shooters, Downs opened up 10 of her course’s 14 stations, as shooters fired a total of 50 birds. Some stands allowed a maximum of six birds per shooter, while others had a limit of four. Registrants also had the option of purchasing additional 50-bird rounds for $50. Scorecards and shooter numbers were assigned ahead of time by Hunters’ Pointe manager Jessica Aldridge to expedite the process.

Each participant received a shirt and lunch, provided by Jimmy John’s, as well as the opportunity to win prizes, which included four shotguns and a $200 gift card to Overton’s.

“This is the first charity sporting clays event that they’ve done and we hope they’ll continue it,” Downs said. “We expect it to grow like some of our other tournaments.”

While not a National Sporting Clays Association-sanctioned event, Downs considers Clays for a Cause to be one of her most successful shoots of the year, thus far.