“3, 2, 1, pull,” I say, keeping a keen eye down the barrel of the shotgun. A bright-orange clay disc sails through the early-morning sky, and I gently squeeze the trigger. “You nicked that one!” says Mark Gillespie, a shooting instructor at the Sun Valley Gun Club, after I safely lower the gun. “You’re doing great for a beginner.”
His encouragement is welcome, as it’s my first time holding—and shooting—a shotgun. I’ve only been working with Mark for five minutes, and not only am I feeling more comfortable by the second, but I’ve already nicked a target. “Can we try again?” I ask.
Since the early days of Sun Valley Resort, sport shooting has been a part of the recreational attractions of the Sun Valley area. Ernest Hemingway reportedly shot clays off the deck of his Ketchum home, and a sport shooting range was one the original amenities offered when the resort opened in 1936.
Sport shooting tests the shooters meddle in metrics such as accuracy, precision, and speed. Lessons and ranges are available for all types of firearms—from shotguns to pistols to rifles—and the sport welcomes experienced and newbie shooters alike. It’s also a popular activity for groups!
Ready to give it a try? Here’s where to start.
Sun Valley Gun Club
The Sun Valley Gun Club, which is part of Sun Valley Resort, offers trap, skeet, sporting clays, and 5-stand shooting ranges for shotguns at their facility on Sun Valley Road. New shooters and those who are looking to up their game can book private instruction with one of the Club’s certified instructors. Families, friends, and colleagues can join in on the fun, too…each instructor can teach up to 5 people at a time.
Experienced shooters can practice without an instructor by utilizing one of the “targets only” shooting packages. The Sun Valley Gun Club is open from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm every day from Memorial Day through mid-September, and on weekends from mid-May through late-October.
Get Your Shoot On!
Jeff Kreyssig, owner of Get Your Shoot On!, offers safe, memorable shooting experiences with semi-automatic pistols, cowboy action guns, and military-style rifles at the Hurtig Shooting Center in Hailey.
A certified NRA Instructor and Range Safety Officer, Jeff’s Fun Shoots are tailored for shooters ten years and older and include a range of firearms and targets. Fun Shoots are available year-round (even in the winter!) and are perfect for families and corporate groups.
For those looking to bump it up a notch, Jeff also offers long-range precision courses and private, customized instruction. To book a Fun Shoot or private instruction, head to the Get Your Shoot On!
Hurtig Shooting Center
Hurtig Shooting Center, located on Ohio Gulch Road in Hailey, is a public range that offers shooting opportunities for sporting shotguns, pistols, and precision rifles. It’s the only full-service shooting facility in the Valley, so if you’re looking to shoot both shotgun and rifle, this is your place!
The range has a rifle and pistol range with paper and steel targets that start at three yards out and reach 1,450 yards out, a pistol pit, 5-stand, trap, skeet, and sporting clays. The Center is open from Wednesday to Sunday year-round and has an on-site pro shop, gun rentals, and NRA certified instructors.
Shaw Shooting, located along the Snake River in Hagerman, is owned and operated by Houston Shaw, a Sun Valley native and former two-time Production Steel Challenge National Champion. The private shooting school offers over 15 acres of ranges, with 10 pneumatic steel pistol ranges and 15 pneumatic steel rifle ranges.
Shaw Shooting primarily trains military and law enforcement, but private civilian classes can be scheduled when there is availability. To be notified about upcoming shooting opportunities, email [email protected] and ask to be put on the mailing list.
Bonus: Flight Archery Studio
For those looking to channel their inner Katniss Everdeen in favor a more primitive shooting experience, Flight Archery Studio will be right up your alley. Located in Hailey, Flight Archery studio offers 6 lanes of indoor target shooting making for a great rainy day activity. Bring your own bow or rent one of their Ragim recurve bows.