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Virginia Crossroads: Shooting Sporting Clays Helps Wounded Warriors

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Travis takes aim. Travis takes aim.
Sporting Clays is kind of like golf with a shotgun.

And this day about 100 shooters gathered – just like golfers -- for a fundraising tournament. Only in this game you make a different kind of shot.

In sporting clays, teams of shooters rotate among 15 different stations.  Each one – like a hole in golf --offers a different set of problems.  Shooters need to know all the angles, and hit as many flying targets as they can.  Some shots are easy.  Some seem impossible.

Beyond hitting the clays, the aim at Quail Ridge Sporting Clays in Lexington, was to raise money for the Wounded Warriors program.  To get former soldiers like Purple Heart recipient Travis Zabroski back in the woods.

Travis Zabroski: “It gets you back in your element.  I'm from the infantry by trade.  so being able to be outdoors and work with guns, it's what I love.”

Zabroski, shoots his turn like the rest of us – often humbled by the difficulty of the shots.  He’s served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  It was in Iraq that he was shot in the leg.  It may seem surprising that he finds comfort among the guns.

“It's what I'm familiar with.  I'm familiar with guns.  It's just relaxing to me.  And I think to a lot of people.  Some may not be able to, but for me and other like me we are able to still get out here.  I know where I'm at.  I know what I'm doing,” said Zabroski

Bob Duncan, Executive Director of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, also shooting in the tournament, says it makes sense to him.

“A lot of the folks in the military were outdoors men before they went into the service and when they come back they want to have the same opportunities that everybody else does, and we want them to have those opportunities,” he said.

At the barbeque lunch, under a big tent, shooters bid on outdoorsy items – helping event sponsor Gentry, Locke, Rakes and Moore, and the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia raise about $7,000 to support more opportunities like this one for warriors.

Jenny West, Executive Director of the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia, helps raise money.

“And so  by being able to take them outdoors in a safe comfortable, relaxed non-competitive environments it's proven to be very helpful to them and a great program,” said West.

Despite the often difficult shots, usually attempted with a group of people watching, the sport is good natured, with lots of ribbing for shooters who miss.  At some point that is everybody.

“This part is more of a -- camaraderie.  You get to laugh, you get to joke.  Shoot a couple clays.  There is no stress involved in it,” said Zabroski.

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