Located just over the border of Vermont in upstate New York, the Covey and Nye Shooting Grounds are a 1,200 acre private hunting reserve. The preserve is owned and operated by Covey and Nye in Manchester Village, which sells high-end shotguns, men's and women's attire, luggage and accessories. The grounds are where Covey and Nye send customers who are interested in learning about clay target shooting.
And that was why I was at the shooting grounds on Monday morning, struck by the beauty of the area. Gary Marmer, the President of Covey and Nye, had invited me to get a tour of the grounds and then learn all
The sheer noise coming out of the guns was enough to make me even more nervous, so I was glad to jump into a Ranger, think golf cart on steroids, for a tour of the reserve.
Gary Hall, who is the general manager of the preserve, and Tyler Mathers, the gameskeeper, showed me around the 1,200 acres. While the shooting grounds are the major draw of the preserve, most of the area is pegged for another type of shotgun sport. Members of the preserve can participate
Hall and Mathers are both in the process of developing the preserve for these types of hunts, which were popular among British aristocracy. Hall and Mathers are planting fields and creating an environment that will attract the wildlife to the area. The two are also creating stands and blinds for hunters to stand in during the hunts that the preserve plans to hold.
The two bird enthusiasts drove me around the area, showing off the beautiful landscape. There are ponds, woods, fields and much more in just the small part that I was shown, in one place you can stop and see all the way to Killington.
The tour around the preserve was soon over and I was dropped next to the shooting school, where it was my turn to learn how to shoot. Mr. Jacob gave me some safety instruction, showing me how to open, load, turn off the safety and hold the gun. Then it was over to the targets, where I was instructed on my stance, how to hold the gun properly, where to place so it would not kick back and hurt me.
It's very intimidating, holding a shotgun in your hand, even when it isn't loaded. With the gun not loaded, I took a couple of practice shots, getting the form and timing down, or so I thought.
Then it was time to actually shoot. Here was the part I had been dreading, between the noise and the power and the rumors of separated shoulders from kickbacks. But the shell was in and the target was off, and oh, that was kind of fun.
I missed the target by a mile, but wow, the power that comes out of that gun takes some getting used too.
Not to mention the sport is amazingly precise. There are so many little things that go into your shooting stance, the way you hold the gun, the way you hold your head, that if one little is off, you are going to miss.
So I took some more shots, missed some more. Mr. Jacob who could seemingly spot if an eyelash was out of place wrong, made simple adjustments and then, I HIT THE TARGET! I was so excited to see it explode into tiny pieces that I had to do a happy dance.
It was a very exhilarating feeling, actually putting it all together and making the gun do exactly what you wanted it to do. As I continued to shoot, I missed some targets, I hit some targets. I went between doing it perfectly and doing it really wrong, but everytime I hit the target, I couldn't help but smile.
Before long, it was over and I had to hand in the gun, but I had my little moment of glory, breaking a few targets during my very first lesson. I got in the car and drove away from the Covey and Nye Shooting Grounds, thinking "man, I want to do that again."
For more information about Covey and Nye, go to www.coveyandnye.com.