Building successful gun clubs – Dan Mitchell

March 02, 2016

The desire to create the ultimate gun club began to take shape when he was in his early twenties and mirrored his love of the shooting sports. In those early years, Dan Mitchell was a competitive skeet shooter and Captain of the Navy Skeet Team. His desire to grow the sport he loved drove him to contribute to and learn everything he could about all aspects of the shotgun shooting world. He worked at gun clubs, served on gun–club boards, worked at the NSSA/NSCA headquarters and served on state, zone and national committees.

Using the knowledge gained from those years of service in the shooting world, Dan asked himself what he believed were the necessary ingredients to build and sustain a successful gun club. He determined the first and most vital component was a passion for the sport, with club location and facilities as two other critical elements. With his knowledge of the shooting world, leadership, financial knowledge and management skills he gained in the Navy, Dan was able to combine those components to successfully build the Wolf Creek Gun Club in Atlanta, Georgia, and, in Salem, Oregon, Mitchell’s Clay Target Sports. He hopes to inspire others to have similar success at their gun clubs.

Building successful gun clubs on both coasts started with Dan’s passion. He was determined the club owner — the person behind the counter and the club greeter — would project enthusiasm through his voice and demeanor and be able to impart his knowledge and love of all the clay–shooting sports to the customers. This person, Dan believes, should be the “pro,” the guy who is there all the time and keeps up–to–date on all aspects of the shooting world. The club owner’s enthusiasm and knowledge is what makes club patrons excited and keeps them coming back for more. The same patrons will go out and spread the word, bringing in even more shooters who will keep coming back with their own newfound passion for shooting. The second ingredient for a successful gun club, like any other business, is location. Dan was fortunate in finding two locations he was able to take just one look at and see potential. Once he found the optimal location for a gun club, he set his goal on understanding the local economy to help him set prices and provide the goods and services appropriate to the area.

Club grounds.

Even when the club is closed, it looks good and makes you anxiously await the first open day of the week.

Currently, Mitchell’s has four trap fields, eight skeet fields, one 5–stand that guarantees income in months of inclement weather and a mile–long, 14–station sporting clays course. Slated for the future is an additional 1¼–mile sporting clays course with possibly 18 stations and at least one more 5–stand course. Mitchell’s had the honor of being named NSSA/NSCA Gun Club of the Year for 2002 and has to its hosting credits a U.S. Open Championship, several state skeet shoots, a Ducks Unlimited Shoot, the 9th State Sporting Clays Championship coming up in July (visit the website) and yearly hosts the Oregon Hunter’s Association Shoot.

Since 1967, when he began shooting registered targets, Dan’s passion has never wavered. He has now passed on the helm to his successor at Mitchell’s, Stephen Parks, but is still active in the day–to–day operations of the club, giving lessons and helping on the sporting clays course. Stephen has taken on a big workload, doing the jobs Dan and Patsy did as a team. It’s sometimes tough to be upbeat and project enthusiasm all the time with the amount of responsibility running a gun club provides, but Stephen does it superbly. Watching Stephen smiling at customers and seeing the business continue to grow and thrive is incredibly rewarding to Dan. You can view the Master Plan for the new sporting clays layout at

Dan built a name for himself in the shotgun world through his shooting accomplishments and dedication to the sport. His years of experience in the Olympics, designing courses, building financially successful gun clubs and being involved to ensure the future of the shooting sports, add up to a man with a huge passion for all the shotgun world has to offer. Your club can also experience growth and success if you have a passion for the sport and direct that enthusiasm toward running a quality gun club.

Disclaimer : Article was derived from

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