Despite our region’s deep-seate
d tradition of sports afield, the smell of gunpowder has long been a scent favored mostly by men.
I, for one, attribute this to the fact that the fairer sex is far smarter. Duck hunting is ice-cold misery featuring 3 a.m. alarm clocks. Dove hunting is a recipe for heat stroke where shooting a full brace of birds results in a snack for one. Deer hunting is a life-and-death struggle with swarms of angry mosquitoes … and whitetails do have those big, cute Bambi-eyes.
Back Woods Quail Club just outside Georgetown, South Carolina might not lure a full covey of Lowcountry ladies out in the hunting field, but it might just endear them to the fellows’ love of shooting.
I recently carried my bride up to the club and the first impression when driving up is, “I had no idea we had a facility like this in South Carolina.” To the left is a finely-tended trap range and skeet tower and just beyond is a neatly maintained pro shop and canteen. During our recent trip in mid-April, the grounds were awash in azaleas and the dogwoods were in bloom.
Entering any sort of gun shop can be intimidating for the unfamiliar for a variety reasons, not the least of which is the fact that the sales counter offers pistols with numbers like .45, .40, .38, 9mm, .308 and .22. Then there’s the issue of shotguns versus rifles and their snarling gaggle of numbers: 10, 12, 20, 16, .410, .45-70, .308, .30-06, 7mm, .270, 5.56 and .22.
Walking into the Back Woods pro shop, however, is a pleasant, even for the rookiest of rookies. The team of employees is warm and upbeat, especially pleased when they realize they are welcoming a beginner. Their enthusiasm for the shooting sports and pride in their facilities is immediately apparent.
Because I value my marriage and my bride is a beginner, I hired a shooting coach for the afternoon — very reasonably priced, but worth his weight in Croghan’s gift cards. Coach Dave Lemmen was kind, patient and gregarious; after our arrival at the skeet tower he walked Heidi through the 101s of gun safety, proper shooting stance, raising the gun to the correct shooting posture and the specific steps for tracking and shooting the clay pigeons.
After Heidi’s successful destruction of a few clays, Dave explained that learning should involve shooting at a variety of angles and took us out onto one of their sporting clay courses.
Sporting clays are, other than actually hunting, a bird hunter’s favorite way to spend a day. Think of the layout as a golf course. You drive a golf cart from “tee box” to “tee box.” Each station offers a new challenge and different backdrop. Many of the stations throw clay pigeons replicating a shot a hunter might take in the wild and some are simply thrown to challenge the shooter’s various skills. The bright orange discs are thrown high, low, up, down, side-to-side and fading in a variety of manners.
We rode with Dave in a golf cart and shot a number of stations. All stations are pointed safely away from each other (not difficult as the club consists of 15,000 acres). The facilities boast two sporting clay courses and wisely Dave took us on the easier of the two.
As part of our time with Dave, he gave us a tour of the grounds, which includes three rental houses, an RV park, a dining area and a rifle/pistol range. Their rifle range extends out to 300 yards, which is a very rare treat for serious riflemen. DNR’s Twin Ponds Range in Mt. Pleasant reaches out only 100 yards — and there’s the pesky problem that Twin Ponds is closed Sunday and holidays and open only 9-5 Monday through Saturday. (For those doing the math, this ridiculous DNR policy forces every shooter in Charleston County with a job to jam into this one facility on Saturday.)
How nice are the Back Woods facilities? Dave told us they host bachelorette parties from time to time, mostly groups in Charleston for a long weekend. As Back Woods is open seven-days a week, planning group trips is easy.
In addition to sporting clays, Backs Woods Quail Club also offers the other two competitive shooting sports, trap and skeet.
Although the club is only about 20 minutes from Georgetown, where accommodations are plentiful, we were both pleased to learn about the on-site houses for rent, as well as their made-to-order home cooked meals. In true Southern fashion, the accommodations come with an open bar. Alas, it was the peak of turkey season, so the on-site homes were filled with men stalking gobblers.
After finishing our afternoon of shotgunning, we drove to Georgetown to stay the night and watch Auburn play UVA in the Final Four. With three blatant errors going the way of UVA in the final ten seconds, I was happy the guns were locked in the car: In a battle between a flat screen TV and 12 gauge, bet the mortgage on the shotgun.
The following morning, we returned to Back Woods to take advantage of their pistol and rifle range. As we’d joined the club the previous day ($250), the use of both was free. The range master, Woody, was equally as delightful as Dave and made us feel like VIPs. We shot pistols then rifles and I discovered my bride’s natural talents with both are very impressive. If the you-know-what hits the fan after Trumps re-election, I’ll recommend in advance that the Mercury’s violent Antifa readers stay at least 100 yards away from her.
I knew Heidi enjoyed the experience as much as I, but I wasn’t aware of her newfound love of the sport until she said, “When we get home we need to get out our calendars and set the date for our trip back.”
I doubt she’ll ever join me in a deer stand … but I think we’re both going to love shooting several thousand rounds at the Back Woods Quail Club.
To learn more about Back Woods Quail Club, please visit BackWoodsQuailClub.com. (843) 546-1466.