In 2002 when David Sewell was being courted to join the Palmetto Bluff development team, the carrot of being able to build a Shooting Club was dangled in front of him as a bonus of the job, and he took it. Now, a dozen years later, Sewell can have his carrot cake and eat it too.

A long time coming, this project was a true labor of love for Sewell. Together he and Palmetto Bluff Conservancy Director Jay Walea stood among “the most spectacular magnolias on property,” according to Sewell, and began to consider a shooting course that would be subordinate to the landscape, set among 40 acres of hardwood bottom.

Hunting and shooting sports have been a long-standing tradition at Palmetto Bluff for years (if not centuries). Today, the professionally-designed sporting clays course boasts 13 sporting clays stations winding through the pristine landscape, as well as an elevated and covered five-stand station, and a wobble deck field for a total of 15 shooting sites. Designed in conjunction with Promatic Industries, the gold-standard industry leader in sporting clays equipment and course lay-out, the course provides an exciting and challenging recreational shooting environment for both the novice and advanced shooter, providing entertainment regardless of age, ability, or experience.

The clays stations offer the full gamut of shooting opportunities from midis and chondels to rabbits and standard targets.

Glossary of Terms

Standard: the “standard” target; 108mm in diameter; can turn and bank; has ridges built into the dome; the good old standard that makes up the bulk of thrown targets; old reliable

Midis: Same as Standard but smaller diameter target (90 mm) that accelerates faster and appears very     elusive and illusive; high difficulty factor.

Chondels: a looping target that skyrockets out of the machine; usually broken against blue sky background for maximum dramatic effect; a fun word to say.

Rabbits: designed to hit the ground and roll and bounce unpredictably; has tougher rim to withstand impact; very frustrating yet rewarding for the shooter; draws emphatic oohs, and ahhs, and lots of chirping from spectators.

Fun fact! Palmetto Bluff Shooting Club is using BIO targets that will eventually disintegrate; don’t let domestic pigs/hogs eat them; the pitch content can kill them dead.

The course was also designed with the ability to change target presentation to provide new shooting opportunities on a regular basis. The covered five-stand and wobble fields will offer a perfect spot for a course warm-up, learning and teaching opportunities, or a fun shooting outing condensed into a shorter time frame.

What is a Hardwood Bottom?

By Jay Walea

Hardwood bottoms are the flood plains for river and stream systems found throughout the southern US. These areas are flooded periodically throughout the year, allowing only certain over-story and mid-story plant and tree species that like wet feet to thrive. These bottoms are home to a host of animals from the Neotropical migrating songbirds that come to the south during the summer months such as the summer tanager to larger animals such as the white-tailed deer.

The hardwood bottom on Palmetto Bluff is in an ancient drainage that was most probably at one time a connection between the May River and the New River. Over time, this system has silted in with layer upon layer of organic matter, which has allowed this area to rise slightly above the flood plain in many places within this system. While most of the tree and plant species that categorize the Hardwood Bottom habitat are present in the Palmetto Bluff system, there are a few that are not due to the bottoms lack of periodical flooding.

20150111_6513An abundance of magnificent over-story tree species make up the thick canopy of this beautiful habitat here. The live oak stretches her limbs ever outward and upward trying to grab the sun before her herbaceous competition around her. The red oak species in the hardwood bottom consists of the water oak, laurel oak and southern red oaks that dot the high points within the system. Cherry bark oak can also be found in the lower areas in the bottom. Along the transitions where the hill drops off into the bottom is where the swamp chestnut oaks and white oaks thrive. These trees like moist soil, but not wet feet. In the lowest areas of the bottom is where the ash and hornbeam trees reside. Dotted throughout the system are evergreens like the American holly and the southern magnolia. These trees keep their leaves throughout the year and add a constant green tint to the back drop of the hardwood bottom.

The hardwood bottom is a very important nursery for our wild animals. These hardwood trees have cavities or rotted out areas within them that many of our bird and animal species utilize for nesting. The wood duck, which is our only year round local duck, is a cavity nester. Fox squirrels, flying squirrels, raccoons and opossums are all cavity nesters. The Grey crested flycatcher is a small bird that nests extensively in the cavities of the hardwood bottoms tree species.

This very unique and beautiful habitat type found on Palmetto Bluff is under conservation to protect its beauty and to allow both humans and animals to enjoy.

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