LAND O'LAKES — Sometimes change is a good thing.
When Bill Arthur retired for the second time from the financial world, he needed something to do. When the opportunity arose, Arthur partnered with businessman and fellow hunter and fisherman Mike Mezrah to take over the old Deer Creek Sporting Clays. The two remodeled and rebranded the facility last April as Tampa Bay Sporting Clays and have begun implementing their big plans for the future.
"We saw the need to remodel a lot of this place," Arthur said. "We wanted people to come down that road and be amazed by the improvements. It took a couple of months, but the hard work has paid off, judging by the compliments we've received from people who shoot out here. We brought in all new machines, and we've got our target breakages down to a minimum."
Among the new amenities is wireless Internet throughout the complex and a brand-new pavilion for charity or corporate outings. The pavilion is equipped with a high-definition flat screen television and living room furniture so guests can relax and enjoy a clubhouse atmosphere.
Also added to the facility is an archery range, something residents in that part of the county have never had before. Archers even have the option of what type of target they want to shoot. The facility has both traditional hay bags and life-like 3D animal targets made of a dense foam material.
"This is the only thing like this in Pasco that I know of," bowman Caire Boe said. "They have done a really nice job setting this up here, so I hope they can get some events."
The facility has improved the gun range as well, adding a third course and improved machines for skeet shooting. One of the problems many shooters had before the change in ownership was mechanical malfunctions that caused the clay targets to break when fired from the machine.
"There is a lot less equipment failure or breakage, and I feel like since the new ownership group came in that I'm seeing more people out here," rifleman Don Weikel said Saturday at the fifth annual Hernando Builders Association Bang Bang Sporting Clays tournament. "I don't think it's a difference in marketing, just the new management is really on top of things. This is one of the best facilities for this around here, and now it's an even better product for a sportsman."
Tampa Bay Sporting Clays welcomed two shooting events Saturday. Arthur's intention to work with charities has put the facility's name into the public consciousness, and he has seen the result in business.
"We have 60 events planned for this year," Arthur said. "We're running out of Saturday and Sunday availability at this point. This is the best thing I've ever done. I'm a people person, and we've had over 8,700 people come out here since we opened, so it's been good for me."