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Girls, Guns, and Clay Pigeons in South Carolina’s Old 96 District

This past autumn, I had the chance to visit the Palmetto Shooting Complex in South Carolina’s Old 96 District for the first time with a friend! It was really quite the adventure. 

I grew up in the south, and I was always fairly comfortable with shooting sports. I took archery lessons one summer and my dad had a .22 caliber rifle that we occasionally had the chance to take to a range and try shooting. My sisters and I seemed to be naturals—we always had “good aim” and enjoyed the competitiveness of trying to get more bullseyes than each other. 

My dad started taking each of us kids out for a special activity each year for our birthdays, letting us decide what we wanted to do, and I always chose some kind of shooting sport. One year we went to an outdoor range and shot rifles, one year an indoor range where the local police academy trained and shot handguns, and one year I asked to go skeet shooting. 

While target practice is always fun, skeet with its added challenge of moving targets and wind variables was a blast.

Fast forward to 2022. It had admittedly been a while since I had held a shotgun. 

My friend Lauren and I pulled up to Palmetto Shooting Complex in Edgefield, SC, and we weren’t completely sure what we had gotten ourselves into. Me, an ex-childhood target shooter. She, a Californian who had never shot a gun. Both of us barely 5’4”. Could we really just show up and shoot sporting clays at a world class shooting facility? Just like that? 

After being outfitted with shotguns, ammunition, eye and ear protection, and a golf cart, we set out around the beautiful sporting clay course. 

Sporting clay is unique from other shooting sports like skeet or trap because sporting clay is a changing target. While targets in skeet shooting mimic a bird flying horizontally across the plane and targets in trapshooting mimic a bird flying straight out, just getting further away from you, sporting clay is both and neither of these at the same time. At Palmetto Shooting Complex, you go to the first station—almost like the first tee at a golf course—and you don’t know where the clay pigeon will come from. Maybe it will come out of a tree and across like skeet. Maybe you pull again and the next target flies straight out away from you, eventually disappearing in the tree line. After a few rounds at this station, you’ll go onto station 2, like the second tee of a golf course, and try the next set of challenging sporting clays—and so on for all 18 stations! You can keep score as you go along, seeing who in your group has the best shot, too.

The shooting complex was a beautiful facility, so lush and green, so convenient to downtown Edgefield yet it felt like a hidden oasis deep in the middle of the forest. 

My sharp shooting skills from childhood came back almost immediately—it took only two or three tries for me to hit the clay at the first station, but by the last station, I was able to hit both targets back to back on the first try! 

Lauren, a brand new shooter herself, was also having some great success! Though a little nervous at first, one of the staff members, Rhett, was super helpful getting Lauren used to holding and using the gun safely, and she was a solid shot by the end of the course. She said she loved it and wants to find more opportunities to practice shooting and sporting clay!

Palmetto Shooting Complex is a world-class shooting facility in Edgefield, SC, a gem for the southeast region, hosting outdoorsmen, families, and random girls like us for shooting sports at their 300-acre facility featuring 5 trap and skeet overlays, 2 sporting clays courses, and 3D archery. The sporting clay courses are regularly changing, making for a new challenge each time you visit! It’s a must-visit during your next visit to South Carolina’s Old 96 District.

Kimberly Snyder is the Marketing Director for Old 96 District Tourism, where her favorite part of the job is meeting people, experiencing the unexpected wonders of the region, and trying out all the coffee shops. Whether for work or planning her next international adventure, travel is always on her mind. Kimberly aspires to step foot in all seven continents (only two to go!) and eventually read all the books on her bookshelf.

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