When each of Learn To Shoot North Carolina's NRA-certified instructors held his first gun, he was also embracing an inherent part of who he is. Instructors spent their childhoods shooting sporting clays and hunting before transferring their marksmanship skills to careers in law enforcement or the armed forces. Through Learn To Shoot North Carolina's assemblage of courses, instructors help pupils familiarize themselves with various firearms and earn NRA certification. Their shooting range hones marksmen's skills as they practice with their own handguns or rented pieces. Learn to Shoot also offers recreational activities, such as Zombie Smash, where hunters step into the surrounding forest, firing at cutouts of zombies while trying to forget about the pet zombie they helped raise on their uncle's farm.
After a day plowing the fields, the young Dan Andrews would jump from the tractor, feel his boots sink into the freshly turned earth, and then grab his rifle for an evening of hunting on his family's farm. Once he graduated college, Andrews found himself wanting to share his passion for the outdoors, forged by experiences such as hunting trophy buck and stalking duck along the farmland's creek beds. He returned to the land that had sustained his family for five generations and founded Drake Landing.
Today, Andrews and his team—which includes staff claiming accreditation by the National Sporting Clays Association—oversee a preserve that spans separate ranges for shooting sporting clays, pistols, and rifles. For outdoorsmen desiring live field experience, Drake Landing's team leads guided upland hunting for pheasant and quail as well as hunting trips for dove, deer, and Red October.
Curt "Rigger" Mordus, a state-certified firearm instructor, and his wife Cori Knight, a deputy sheriff, organized their training team by selecting instructors with backgrounds in special forces and law enforcement. Together, they share their expertise and which eye they prefer to squint with in Riggers Arms' classes, which range from the NRA basic-pistol-shooting course to the advanced tactical multigun course. They also tailor classes exclusively for women and youth. Though Curt and Cori occasionally host open shooting at Rigger Arms' academy, they operate a training-first facility that welcomes civilians, military professionals and the police.
Winding for more than 1 mile around woodland areas, open fields, and a farm pond, DeWitt's Outdoor Sports, LLC's sporting-clay course challenges guests of all experience levels with a variety of target presentations. At the push of a button, automated traps launch clays from the course's 14 shooting stations over bodies of water, sprawling meadows, and dense forests. The course is one of many on DeWitt's 65 acres, which have hosted numerous state shoots and championships.
Beneath a tin roof, targets fly from eight wireless traps across the nearly 1,000 square feet of the 5-stand pavilion. There, guests can fire from five stations by day or under lights during nighttime sessions. At an adjacent covered, two-station rifle range, patrons test their aim at distances up to 200 yards away, while visitors to the 5-stand's eight bays fire at targets up to 50 feet away. At the 5-stand, NSCA-certified instructor Rick Mitchell holds clay-shooting instructions. He also uses videos and still photos to trace his students' clay-shooting skills.
Additionally, DeWitt's staff use the grounds for guided half-day duck or early-release quail hunts. Partnered with guide dogs, hunters stroll the tranquil grounds while searching for mallards roaming four duck pond habitats or coveys of quail.
Buttermilk Creek Outfitters stocks a huge inventory of rugged accoutrements for hunters, fishers, and archers. The shop prides itself on excellent customer service, guiding visitors through the racks of cross-bows, shooting accessories, and a variety of lures to catch trophy fish or salmon filets at the grocery store. One of the two shop locations is home to an archery range, where visitors can practice their aim or take lessons with rented equipment.