Haliburton Forest & Wildlife Reserve has something new to offer the community this summer, a clay target shooting range.

They have been working on getting the range ready for the last four years, struggling with COVID, and then having to get licences and approvals to be certified.

They opened the range July 1.

I had a chance to give it a try this past weekend on behalf of The Highlander.

Each group of shooters, from a minimum of two to a maximum of six, has a trained guide with them at all times. Guides have undergone firearms safety training.

Before getting to shoot, the guide takes the group through a list of rules about the range and what to do in certain situations. They show you how to properly handle the firearm and how to load and unload it.

The course has something for everyone, with 10 stations available to try. Each station is a little different, whether it be the height the clay is thrown, the speed, or the angle.

General manager, Tegan Legge, said even more advanced shooters can come to the range and have a fun and challenging time. You can even bring your own gun but it needs to be either a 12-gauge shotgun or a 20-gauge. Each group has to use the ammunition provided by the guide and cannot use their own.

The course is one of a kind, as open to the public, unlike many ranges across Ontario.

I went out with Legge and operations manager Cameron Ferguson. They taught me how to properly handle and shoot the firearm. Each station was unique, with different landscapes and challenges. It takes about four-hours, with the drive into the range, instructions, and actual target shooting.

“Our main goal here is to educate people on the sport and firearms safety,” said Ferguson.

The clays are biodegradable so they don’t affect the environment. They have 100 acres dedicated to the range. They wanted to ensure the surrounding campsites and cottages were not going to be bothered by the sound of gunshot when the course is open.

For more information on Haliburton Forest and the clay target shooting range: haliburtonforest.com/sporting-clays-range.