TOWNSEND -- "Pull." BAM!
Every few seconds a voice called out, followed quickly by the sound of a gun. One after another, five shooters aimed for the clay target spinning away from them.
Shooting five times from five positions, each contestant expends 25 rounds per game.
The trap shooters were experienced but more than willing to lend a hand, and a gun, to a new shooter Sept. 2.
There is a lot to absorb the first time out, said Dave Wade, a board member of the Townsend Rod and Gun Club as he explained how to hold, aim and move the gun.
Others kept an eye on the proceedings and made suggestions on how to stand to fire.
Even with the generous coaching, the biodegradable clay disks were in no danger from the novice shooter.
The 300-acre club draws members from around the region. Weekend shooting and fishing events are open to the public.
Club members are enthusiastic about sharing their sports with others.
The Townsend Recreation program runs an archery course at the club. An open house will be held Sunday, Sept. 9, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The club strives to maintain a safe, friendly atmosphere.
"With guns and archery, it's safety," said Bill Towson, Chairman of the Board.
There has never been an accident involving guns or bows and arrows at the club. "Never have, never close," Towson said.
A new pistol range will be finished within the next month. The jerry-rigged pistol target on part of
The high sand berms are designed for safety, Towson said. Pistol bullets can skid along the ground and bounce back up, the sand will stop them from skidding out of the range.
Some join the club just for shooting or fishing and then find the social scene is very enjoyable.
Wanting a range to practice on, Jim Gasper joined the club and discovered he really enjoyed spending time with other members. The Chelmsford resident is now the president, busy organizing events in addition to his own shooting practice.
Because the club does not have a liquor license, the atmosphere remains friendly for families, both men said. Diners can bring their own alcohol to club meals.
Many members volunteer time to help with projects such as building a new range or helping with a club meal.
"If you have a skill, we'll use it," Gasper said.
Over the years, members have become increasingly involved with running the club. There is no minimum requirement for volunteering, Towson said, but without the volunteers, the club would be much more expensive to run.
Some members never shoot, they might fish the stocked trout pond or use the extensive grounds for hiking, biking, camping or snowshoeing.
Black-powder aficionados gather on the grounds monthly to shoot period-style or antique weapons and practice other skills like knife and tomahawk throwing.
Periodically they hold a rendezvous at the club. Some people wear 18th century garb and use only products available from that time. Participants camp out, use their old-style tools and weapons and cook over the fire.
The black powder shooters are very accomplished. Using a longrifle, they can be just as accurate as someone using a modern weapon, Towson said.
The open house at 46 Emery Road on Sunday, Sept. 9 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. is open to the public. Experienced sportsmen will be on hand to help people new to the activities offered at the club.