Gun Club Corner

Northwestern Alabama

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Northwestern Alabama clubs provide trapshooting, hunting
Founded in 1962 as a hunting club, Waterfall Valley Gun Club in Tuscumbia, Ala., added two trapfields in the late 1960s because many of the hunters were also trapshooters. F. E. Taylor originally leased the 212-acre facility, and now the club members share ownership of the land.
The club leases an additional 4,000 to 5,000 acres from individuals and companies to provide grounds for deer and turkey hunting. Membership is limited to 45 members, who pay an initial $250 plus $40 per month to hunt.
Trap was discontinued for a time, and the two hand-throw machines were stored in the building that served as a clubhouse for the hunting members. In December 1992, the machines were destroyed in a fire which consumed the building. The following year two lighted trapfields were installed—equipped with automatic machines and wireless voice release systems—and trapshooting again became part of the club’s activities.
The facility now also includes rifle and pistol ranges of 200, 150, 100 and 50 yards. Trap, rifle and pistol shooting is open to the public. Everyone (including members) pays $3 per round to shoot trap, and firing at the pistol and rifle ranges is free. Metal deer and turkey targets are provided for hunting practice.
The 40x80′ clubhouse is often used for overnight stays during hunting season. It includes a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom with shower, fireplace and TV.

 
 
  Two air-conditioned buildings are located near the trapfields. One is about 12x20′ and holds a kitchen, and the other is a smaller one used for scoring.
The club holds ATA shoots the second Sunday of each month from March through November, and the trapfields are open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from 1 to 10 p.m. Houston Hovater and Horace Hester are co-managers of the trap program. Hovater is president of the hunting club, and Hester serves as treasurer.The club is a member of the Trap Trail, where the Alabama clubs rotate hosting a shoot, offering whatever disciplines they want, with belt buckles featuring the state logo awarded to winners and runnerups. Waterfall Valley’s competition will be the second Saturday in May.
The club has an active SCTP program consisting of about 25 youngsters. The youths compete in Big 50 shoots and practice about twice a week, often into the night under the lights. The Waterfall Valley junior experienced team finished second in that division by just two targets during the Scholastic Clay Target Program Championships at the Grand American. Coach Anthony Hester will be assisted by Wayne Sinclair and Arlie Griffus this year.
Hester and Griffus serve as the Alabama state association president and vice president, respectively, while Sinclair is the ATA Delegate. Secretary Don Ross is also a club member. Several state champions practice regularly at the facility.
Club activities have included a deer hunt for handicapped children and a fundraiser where chances for a guided deer hunt were sold. Groups and businesses such as the International Paper Company often hold picnics and cookouts under the large pavilion on the grounds.
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Muscle Shoals S&TC is just 33 miles from Waterfall Valley. It was founded on a cotton plantation on the west edge of Tuscumbia in 1924. Then the North Alabama Conservation Department bought the club and moved it into the city of Muscle Shoals. Later ownership was transferred to the club members, the name was changed to Florence Skeet & Trap, and it was relocated to the Turtle Point Yacht & Country Club. Around 1972 life memberships were sold for $100 each to build the club on its present 80-acre site eight miles from Florence. Russell Bell, who has been trap chairman for about 35 years, suggested the name be changed to reflect the Shoals area of the state.
The facility includes four trapfields—three are combined with skeet, and two are lighted. The traps are equipped with one hand-set and three automatic machines, and one also throws wobble targets. The air-conditioned clubhouse has a kitchen and a warehouse area large enough to store 22 skids of targets, and there is also a covered pavilion near the clubhouse.
Muscle Shoals hosts registered shoots the first Sunday of each month from March through December. Like Waterfall Valley, Muscle Shoals is one of the clubs on the Trap Trail. Participating clubs choose what type(s) of events they will offer, and the Muscle Shoals program will consist of handicap targets the first Sunday in May.
The club sponsors three SCTP teams, representing the rookie, junior and senior divisions, which practice weekly there. The state SCTP competition was held at the club the last two years.
Other groups which use the club’s facilities include the North Alabama Turkey Federation, which holds shoots and cookouts; 4-H clubs, which host meetings and competitions; and a group of home-schooled high schoolers, who occasionally bring their lunches and spend the day.
Muscle Shoals has about 100 members, and dues are $25 per year. The club is open year-round Sundays, 1 to 5 p.m., and during Daylight Savings Time on Thursdays, 5 to 9 p.m.
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For more information about Waterfall Valley, call Horace Hester at 256-332-3570; for Muscle Shoals, contact Russell Bell at 256-383-1610. Directions and maps can be found on the “clubs and shoots” page on the ATA website
(www.shootata.com/content/ata_zones/zone.aspx).
Both clubs are located in the northwest corner of the state along the Tennessee River in a two-county region known as the Shoals, where there is something of interest for the entire family. The area is the birthplace of the Tennessee Valley Authority and the location of Wilson Dam. Pickwick Lake, a Tennessee vacation spot known for its beaches and fishing, is also close. In Tuscumbia, the birthplace of Helen Keller is open daily for tours. The town is also the home of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, which features exhibits and historical artifacts of well-known performers such as “Father of the Blues” W. C. Handy, Nat King Cole, Lionel Richie and Hank Williams. Nearby Florence is rich in Civil War history. Popes Tavern, which served as a hospital for both Union and Confederate troops, is now a museum. Seventy miles east, Huntsville offers many tourist attractions. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center features dozens of interactive exhibits surrounding Apollo, Mercury and Space Shuttle spacecraft, and visitors can see the Space Camp Training Center, where adults and youngsters participate in simulated missions. In addition, visitors can walk through Constitution Village (historical reenactment site) or visit a hands-on science center, animal preserve, botanical garden, and several museums, including two railroad and a veterans’ memorial.

 
 

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