Shotgunning has always seemed to be the more genteel of the shooting sports. There is that everlasting image of a huntsman with a tweed waist jacket, padded shoulder and elbow patches, and a double-barreled side-by-side, or over-and-under, broken across his forearm. What the heck, throw in a pipe and a comfortable hat with a single feather in the band.The dress has changed over the years, but not the image. Certainly the Fossil Pointe Sporting Grounds, outside of Decatur, perpetuates that vision. The 5,000-square-foot lodge sits atop a chalk hill in the rolling countryside on FM 51 about an hour’s drive from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The 500-acre retreat has multiple shotgun courses along with a rifle and pistol range.The lodge is built of rock and glass and redwood. It has a grand entrance and a wrap-around patio that gives it a regal view of the surrounding area. This isn’t a gun shop; this is a country club for shooters. And they migrate here from McKinney, Denton, Plano, Mesquite, all points in North Dallas and Fort Worth.“We get just about anyone who can make the drive in around an hour,” owner and chief shooting instructor David Niederer said. “But we also use this facility for more than just a shooting range. We also do weddings and banquets in the clubhouse.”It is that kind of place.But it is primarily for the shooter, the sportsman. Anyone who has waited in stillness for hours hoping to see fast-darting doves appear over a watering hole, or shivered in the cold awaiting high-flying ducks to descend, can attest to the sportsmanship involved in bird hunting. Let a covey of quail explode between your feet and then ask who has the better chance for success, the quail or the shooter. Only a really good dog can level the playing field.But more important, those who love the art of shooting fast-moving targets out of the sky can practice their affection on clay targets; harmless, lifeless platters that explode in puffs of smoke for everyone to see. That’s what they do at Fossil Pointe.There are no trap or skeet ranges on the property, at least not yet. They are in the long-range plans but for now the emphasis is primarily on sporting clays, a sport built on an amalgamation of the skills required for hunting different prey, as well as the older, more traditional sports of trap and skeet.“Some people call it golf with a shotgun,” Niederer said. “You move from station to station where you shoot clay targets that are thrown at different angles, spreads and trajectories. It simulates a lot of different types of hunting.”No matter where you might go, the trap and skeet fields are almost always identical. The pattern is the same and you soon learn what to expect. In sporting clays, every setup is different, Niederer said. Sporting clays have brought a new excitement to shotgun competition, he said, and while the number of shooters in trap and skeet are on the decline, the sporting clay crowds are growing.Fossil Pointe hopes to capitalize on that growth and has been chosen as the site of the 2014 Texas State Championships, a shooting competition that is expected to draw more than 700 shooters along with hundreds more visitors and vendors.“We opened this place in 2008,” Niederer said. “It is family land and we started it out of that barn down there,” he added, as he pointed to a sheet-metal building about the size of a tractor barn. “We did it for about two years before my wife and I decided we could make it here and built the clubhouse. In the beginning we wanted to focus on national tournaments — big shooters, big crowds — but monthly and daily shooters are really now our focus.”Fossil Pointe offers lessons, leagues, and hosts fundraisers for numbers of organizations in the area. Niederer, an accomplished shooter with state, national and international championships to his name, does most of the training.
Fossil Pointe Sporting Grounds
7282 N. FM 51, Decatur