Bird Hunting photo

This one falls under the heading of “How I spent my summer vacation.”

Surprisingly enough one of the nicest shooting facilities I have seen in a long time lies just a few minutes outside the 495 Beltway around Washington D.C. in Maryland, a state currently making more anti- than pro-gun news. More surprising–even mind-boggling–the Prince George’s County Shooting Center is a county-run facility, and part of the Prince George’s County parks system.

I had no idea what to expect, but the place is a gem. It features a very nice 22-station sporting clays course, eight trap and 13 skeet fields, international trap and skeet (more on this next time) a pro shop in the clubhouse with guns for rent, instructors on staff, golf cart rental, pretty much everything you want in a clay target club.

Trap and skeet are $6 a round or $50/10 rounds, sporting clays is $44 for 100 birds which is not unreasonable. It’s open seven days a week and apparently very busy on weekends. My son John and I visited on a Friday and saw shooters with everything from Mossbergs to Kreighoffs enjoying the club.

The club has an interesting history. It is one of only three of the orginal 75 Winchester-franchised clubs* opened back in the 70s that is still in business. This club was run by Winchester at a loss for many years. Beretta took it over and ran it briefly, also at a loss. Prince George’s County has an “enterprise” division that runs for-profit facilities like golf courses. They took over management of the club in the late 80s/early 90s and have been running in the black ever since.

The club covers about 120 acres. It’s grandfathered in against noise complaints and is entirely surrounded by NASA property, so its future seems secure. It is also a very friendly place to shoot and I would highly recommend a visit. It is the perfect place to take a break from the crowds at the Smithsonian and the National Zoo next time you visit Washington.

*The Winchester clubs featured the unfortunately Model 1400 semiauto as their house rental guns. They broke down constantly, earning them the reputation as one of the worst shotguns ever. That is not the reason the clubs closed, but it didn’t help.