Zac Fuesser pitched five seasons in the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system, and shooting sporting clays helped satisfy his competitive urge after his baseball career ended three years ago.
Today, the 26-year-old avid hunter is the manager of Ancient Oak Gun Club at Lakewood Ranch.
Fuesser, who pitched most recently with the Florida State League’s Bradenton Marauders in 2013, worked as assistant manager at Ancient Oak under Wayne Evans and most recently under Jay Stenger.
Not only was Fuesser able to find a job outside of baseball, he also found a wife in the Bradenton area, all of which helped persuade him to settle in Manatee County. He is married to the former Ellie Ohlman, who was Miss Lakewood Ranch in 2010 and DeSoto queen in 2011. Ellie’s brother, Michael Ohlman, is a catcher in the Toronto Blue Jays organization.
Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, developer of Lakewood Ranch, offered Fuesser the Ancient Oak manager’s job in October after Stenger departed.
“I have been hunting all my life, and once I left baseball I would come out here two or three times a week,” Fuesser said.
Between 2009 and 2013, he compiled a 9-22 record as a left-handed pitcher and a 3.63 earned run average.
The York, South Carolina, native was able to transfer the same passion that he had for baseball to sporting clays.
I always like to get people started in their sport. All it takes is for them to shoot once and they are hooked.
Zac Fuesser, a former Pittsburgh Pirates farmhand and the manager of the Ancient Oak Gun Club at Lakewood Ranch
His enthusiasm for sporting clays and passing the fever on to others is unmistakable.
After making sure a first-time clays shooter is wearing eye and ear protection, Fuesser offers coaching on sighting and tracking a clay disc with a shotgun, where to aim and when to pull the trigger.
After two misses, and with Fuesser’s patient coaching, the novice hits and explodes the next four targets.
“I always like to get people started in their sport. All it takes is for them to shoot once and they are hooked,” he said. “Sporting clays is the fastest growing sport in the world.
“I am very excited to be manager here, and I am very passionate about the game.”
Tamara Harris, office assistant at Ancient Oak, said Fuesser’s enthusiasm is contagious.
“He goes over and beyond what is required of the manager,” she said.
Ancient Oak, which has 28 shooting posts spread over two shooting courses, will be open seven days a week, starting Dec. 14.
“The snowbirds are coming. We get pretty busy when they get here,” Fuesser said.
Ancient Oak, located at 16800 State Road 64 E., opened in April 2013. Exactly three years later, it hosted the Florida State Sporting Clays Championship, welcoming a field of 365 shooters.