Across the street from the main resort property on Kate’s Mountain Road, The Greenbrier Gun Club is one of the most popular spots for outdoor adventurists. Although shooting has been a pastime at the resort for centuries, the first Greenbrier Gun Club actually opened in 1913 — the same year as the current Greenbrier Hotel — and the current facility was built in 1953. The original facility was located on what is now the Snead Course on The Greenbrier Sporting Club. It had to be moved when an airstrip was built on the property, and the new facility was constructed on Kate’s Mountain.
For my exploration of this unique activity, I met up with Curtis Kincaid, one of the instructors at the Gun Club. He gave me the 411 on the opportunities available at the Gun Club, and I left with a new appreciation for the facility, the qualified instructors and the sport.
As a true beginner, I learned that I was part of the majority of shooters at The Greenbrier Gun Club. Although regulars come back often, and some of them are quite skilled, most of the guests, Kincaid informed me, are first-timers looking for a new adventure.
And they come in all ages.
Shooters must be at least 13 years old to participate, and shooters ages 13-15 are required to take a mandatory lesson, regardless of experience. Shooters 16 and older are permitted to shoot on their own.
Although I passed the cutoff date almost 25 years ago, I still wanted that lesson, and I was thrilled that I made that choice.
Our first stop was at the trap and skeet course. The Greenbrier Gun Club features eight skeet stations with a variety of crossing shots coming from a high house on the left and a low house on the right. The course also has five trap stations with a variety of shots moving away from the shooter from a single trap house.
The first step for me was learning the proper stance, which Kincaid explained was the most important part of the process. If your stance isn’t correct, your shot has little chance of hitting its target.
From there, Kincaid, who has worked at The Greenbrier Gun Club for more than 20 years, taught me how to properly aim, and I was ready to give it a try. With a command of “pull” the bird flew into the air, and I pulled the trigger and watched as it sailed unharmed into the distance.
Kincaid provided feedback about aiming for the leading edge, and I tried again. Again, the bird seemed to laugh at me as it flew through the air without much fear.
Kincaid’s instruction continued as he taught me about hitting the target while it was rising, getting a 3-count in my head and continuing to work on my alignment. Eventually, I got my revenge and was able to knock a few of the targets out of the sky.
While I was somewhat embarrassed by my shooting abilities, I did improve, and the experience would have been an enjoyable one even if I had missed every shot, simply because of the beauty of the mountain landscape from atop Kate’s Mountain.
After trying my hand at trap shooting with similar success — or lack thereof — we hopped in a golf cart and moved to the sporting clays course, which was designed by Justin Jones and John Higgins with the British School of Shooting in 2001. The British School of Shooting, Kincaid explained, is sort of the “Bentley” for course design, and The Greenbrier Gun Club is fortunate enough to have three instructors — Jim Fraley, Jim Thompson and Kincaid — certified as Assistant Professionals through the school.
The sporting clays course was an entirely new adventure, shooting through a “window” at targets from varying distances out into the woods. I was thrilled with myself for hitting most of the targets with help from Kincaid’s instruction, but I was brought back to earth when he informed me that the three stations we used were considered “beginner stations” and were designed to provide guests with a feeling of accomplishment. Mission accomplished!
In total, there are 10 stations on the amazing course, though I decided not to subject myself to further embarrassment by moving onto the more difficult stops.
Overall, the experience was an enjoyable one, and I promised myself I would make a return trip to soak in the beauty and try to improve a little on my shooting skills, just in case anybody was watching next time.
The Greenbrier Gun Club is open daily, with hours varying by season. The three instructors mentioned above are full-time employees, while six part-time employees are certified by the National Sporting Clays Association.
Time on the course is booked by number of rounds, anywhere from 25 to 100. Shotguns and shells are provided at the facility, and lessons are available for shooters of all ages and abilities.
The Greenbrier Gun Club can accommodate handicap shooters on the trap and skeet course, and certain stations on the sporting clays course are accessible.