Gunfire echoes through the woods as golf carts equipped with rifle racks roll by. Two and three generations of families are ready to lock and load amid the heat and humidity of an early Sunday morning. The fourth annual Father's Day Fun Shoot held at Deer Creek Sporting Clays attracted more than 70 shooters from as far as Riverview and South Tampa. Roger Gascoigne and his wife, Cathy, operate Deer Creek and have been putting on the Father's Day event since they began running the 285-acre facility four years ago.
"It's a great way for fathers and their sons or daughters to spend time together," Gascoigne said. "As you age, you can't do a lot of things competitively with your kids anymore other than maybe golf or this. For the ones with younger kids, getting them out here is a good way to introduce them to safe gun handling, too."
The event is composed of five events set in different locations within the heavily wooded setting of the facility's Blue Course. All events are two-shot events, meaning the competitor must shoot one target and then another moving in a different direction. Competitors are given score cards, and at the end of the day there is an awards ceremony and trophy for the team with the best score.
Gascoigne began shooting when he was 14 and is now a British Certified shooting coach. He feels the Father's Day event is good because it's one more way to involve the kids.
"Like every other sport, the future of it is the youngsters," Gascoigne said. "That's why we have women's and kid's clinics so that we can get them out here and maybe find some really good shooters. The enjoyment you see out on a kid's face when they hit the target is amazing."
For many shooters, the event was not their first trip to Deer Creek. For some, however, it was their first time there with their fathers. For the first time in 20 years, Amador Rojas spent Father's Day with his dad and chose Deer Creek as the place to do it.
"It's a good way to spend the day together," Rojas said. "This place always has everything well organized. It's a lot of fun for my dad and for me and my brother. I like that things are pretty professional out here too."
For some, such as Dan Burt and his family, the 2009 competition was enough to warrant a drive up from Riverview.
"There aren't many places where you can do something like this," Burt said. "Overall, I'd have to say that they have it set up pretty good. I'm glad that it's on one of the harder courses and not the easiest one."
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