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Elk Creek Hunt Club
shoots for national fame

Area club to play host to U.S. Open
Sporting Clay National Championship

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

OWENTON, Ky. (June 2009) – The fourth time was the charm for Curtis Sigretto. After making four bids to play host to the U.S. Open Sporting Clay Championships, he was successful in landing the national competition at his Elk Creek Hunt Club and Sporting Clays Resort in Owenton, Ky.

Mark Kiddie

Photo provided

Cincinnati’s Mark
Kiddie serves as
director of the U.S.
Open Sporting Clays
National Championship
at Elk Creek Hunt Club.

Entrepreneur and owner of Kentucky’s largest winery, Elk Creek Vineyards, Sigretto will now play host to an event that has never been held in Kentucky, Ohio or Indiana to date. It was tough to get, but well worth the wait.
The first attempt was made in 1999, said Sigretto, originally from New Jersey. “It was a big deal to get such a prestigious event.” This improves the chances of the Hunt Club playing host to the event in the future, he said, since only a handful of sites are chosen for this honor.
While Sigretto is not a competitive shooter, he said he is excited about the event. “The community seems to be embracing the event,” he said.
To gain a spot as the host site for this competition, a panel visited the Elk Creek Hunt Club and surveyed the property, Sigretto said. A major factor was “the past performance of other large events held at the Hunt Club.” Sigretto has accommodated crowds of 500 shooters at past events.
“We’re expecting between 1,000 and 1,200 shooters, plus family members and guests,” said Gary Kathman, Elk Creek Hunt Club’s manager. The event is hosted by the National Sporting Clays Association and is the sport’s second largest annual competition. The largest competition is the National Championship, always held at the association’s San Antonio headquarters.
So far, shooters have registered from every state in the country, including 10 shooters from Alaska, said Kathman. Quite a few are traveling from Canada, England and worldwide to take part in this prestigious shotgun event, scheduled for June 23-28.
Mark Kiddie competes and shoots at the Hunt Club and has also aided in putting the event together. Kiddie is a member of the U.S. Shooting Team and a six-time All-American World Championship winner. He will be competing in the All-American World Championship in Australia later this year.
Born in Montana, Kiddie now resides in Cincinnati and said that “Elk Creek is in the heart of Kentucky. It has its own personality.”
Kiddie said the entire sport of shooting clays is similar to golf, and this competition similar to the U.S. Open in golf. “In different parts of the country, you experience different terrain.” He believes this makes it a challenging and widely appealing sport.
Anyone can enter the competition who is a member of the NSCA, from beginner to professional. Clay targets simulate the flight of game birds and are very sophisticated. “The target presentations are way beyond what a bird can do,” said Kiddie.

Shooters

Photo provided

Shooters from around the country will
descend on Elk Creek Hunt Club in June
to compete in the second largest sporting
clay shooting contest in the country.

Winning sporting clays competitions is all about shotgunning a moving target, he said. Each participant has his or her own strategy and “it’s all about hand-eye coordination.”
Elk Creek Hunt Club is a world class shooting facility, throwing more than 1.5 million sporting clays targets annually. That places it among the top-ranked clubs in the nation. Amenities include three separate sporting clays courses that offer 45 newly remodeled and paved stations on 35 shooting fields that can be shot as 50- or 100-target rounds and several FITASC parcours.
FITASC stands for Federation Internationale de Tir aux Armes Sportives de Chasse, which is the organization that governs Parcours de Chasse Sporting, the game known in the states as FITASC. The National Sporting Clays Association governs the games in the United States. Conceived in the early 20th century in Spain and developed in France, the basic concept of the discipline is simulation of live game shooting using clay targets and shotguns.
A variety of target presentations on varied terrain is one factor that Kathman believes makes Elk Creek Hunt Club stand out.
“We have a lot of rolling hills,” said Kathman. Many other clubs in the United States that play host to the national championship do not have the hills and lush valleys that provide presentations beneath the feet or high overhead, he added.
Sporting clays is similar to skeet shooting, where clay discs are launched into the air and shot. But unlike skeet shooting, which uses stationary launchers, sporting clays shooters walk a course or ride golf carts to 12 to 15 stations from which they shoot. Shooters will use shotguns to compete throughout the week in several classes, shooting at targets of five different sizes, each station being different from the others. The competition will feature three courses.

Elk Creek Vineyards Cabin

Photo by Don Ward

The beautiful log cabin-styled lodge
and sport shop sits high above the
vineyards and shooting ranges. The club
is the site of the U.S. Nationals in June.

Elk Creek Hunt Club & Resort hosts many different events throughout the year. “We get new customers every week,” said Kathman. “People will often stop by if they are traveling through the area.” Kathman has had visitors from all over the continental United States.
Kathman has been manager of the Hunt Club since 2001. A native of Kenton County, Ky., he said, “I used to come down here and shoot a lot and became friends with Curtis and Chris Koziol.”
Sigretto and his business partner, Koziol, in 1995 purchased the farm on which Hunt Club sits. “We originally bought it to hunt on,” said Sigretto, who had previously lived in Ashville, N.C. Before long, a sporting-clays shooting range was added. The Elk Creek Winery opened in 2003 and produces 24 wines from 20 types of grapes.
Sigretto also operates full wine stores in Louisville, Lexington and Florence, said Frank Downing, executive director of the Owen County Chamber of Commerce. “The winery has more acres of grapes than any other in Kentucky.”
Because of the winery and the sporting clays championship, “Many people in the state have found Owen County for the first time,” said Downing. The Chamber is planning other events of interest geared toward family members and friends of the shooters while the competition is being held.

Elk Creek Map

An historic homes tour is being planned. It includes the 152-year-old Owen County Courthouse. A Farmer’s Market is held each Friday of the month, and Arts in the Park is scheduled for June 27 in Owenton. At the competition a Rotary Club Breakfast will be available, the local homemakers club will be handing out brochures about the National Barn Quilt Project, and the Chamber will have a booth from which they will distribute brochures and information about the county and tourism ideas.
“The combination of all these events is really putting Owen County on the Tourism map,” said Downing.
Owen County Judge-Executive Carolyn Keith said she believes the sporting clays competition will have a very positive impact on Owen County. “It will bring in business for local vendors,” she said. “It is an opportunity to present our little rural community to the public.”
Keith said that even though Owen County lies in the Golden Triangle (between I-75, I-71 and I-64), it has “sort of been isolated to a degree.” Such a rural area is limited in accommodations for overnight stays, and visitors must seek rooms in adjoining counties, which “impacts the fringes of the county as well,” she said.
But the rural environment is one that can be enjoyed and is also an advantage for the county, said Keith. The winery plays host to summer concerts and special events and, along with the hunt club, is a nice spot for locals to enjoy in addition to providing jobs within the county. Many residents have relocated to the area after retiring, and Keith said calls have even come in from individuals wanting to purchase property near the Hunt Club for vacation homes.
An additional summer event will be a preliminary Pro-Am event that has been sponsored by the Hunt Club for the last decade. This year’s dates are June 3-4 and through this event, “We raise a lot of money for children’s hospitals,” said Kathman.
The Boomer Esiason Sporting Clays Pro-Am and World FITASC Challenge is a unique charity fundraiser that carries the mission of finding a cure for cystic fibrosis.

• For more information on the Elk Creek Hunt Club or the U.S. Open Sporting Clays Championship, contact the Elk Creek Hunt Club at (502) 484-4569 or visit: www.ElkCreekHuntClub.com.

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