Lakewood Ranch Herald

Florida State Sporting Clays Championship underway at Lakewood Ranch

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Some of the deadliest shots in the United States are taking part in the four-day Florida State Sporting Clays Championship at Ancient Oak Gun Club.

Edwin Welch of St. Petersburg led all shooters in the opening preliminary round Thursday, knocking down 99 of 100 clay pigeons, manager Wayne Evans said.

From a field of 365 shooters, 225 were competing in the second preliminary round Friday. They are competing for a $1,000 cash prize and bragging rights as a state champ. The runner-up purse is $750.

Even though it is the Florida championship, shooters from Washington state, Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia and elsewhere are taking part, Evans said.

Ancient Oak Gun Club opened at 16800 State Road 64 East in 2013.

"It's a real honor to get the state shoot. It's unheard of to do this in less than three years," member Bill Ric

cardi of Longboat Key said previously.

Attendance at the state championship exceeded expectations. In January, Evans was estimating that 300 shooters would take part.

Ancient Oak has expanded its usual 28 covered shooting stations to accommodate shooters taking part in 10 simultaneous events.

All competition is with shotguns as shooters track and shoot sporting clays, or clay pigeons -- discs launched from trap machines at different speeds and trajectories.

For information about Ancient Oak Gun Club, visit

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.