NSCA US Open draws national attention

Published 8:39 pm Sunday, June 11, 2017

GAY – Big Red Oak Plantation recently hosted the National Sporting Clays Association’s US Open from June 5-11. The event saw approximately 2,000 shooters take part from all across the United States and beyond, and was one of the most well-attended US Open’s in NSCA history.

The plantation, which sits on 3,500 acres, has hosted two NSCA Georgia State Championships in the past, as well as a regional event. This was, however the largest event the plantation has hosted, and helped move the plantation into the national spotlight.

“What it does is it gets a lot of people coming in and seeing this area,” Big Red Oak Plantation manager Mike Bashaw said. “We have people coming in from all over the world that can’t believe what we have in this area. It turns us into a world-known plantation.”

Bashaw and his wife, Lisa, are responsible for managing the plantation, which is owned by the Estes family. A bid was submitted to the NSCA advisory council more than a year ago to host the event, and Bashaw went to San Antonio to give an oral presentation as one of the top three finalists. At the conclusion of that presentations, the decision was made for the competition to be held at Big Red Oak.

While the nod to host was exciting and overwhelming, the main objective of the event was simple, according to Bashaw.

“Our goal is to make everyone feel like this is their home,” Bashaw said.

To host an event of this magnitude, a horde of volunteers were needed. The LaGrange Lions Club has served as volunteers for NSCA events at Big Red Oak in the past, and supplied approximately 20 people per day to serve as trackers on the sub-gauge course.

“It’s really a lot of fun,” Lions Club President-elect Ken Young said. “It’s one of the few times we really get a lot of the club members together for more than just an hour or two. You meet so many nice people, literally from all over the United States.”

Shane Frailey, LaGrange Lions Club member and Troup County Tax Commissioner, was on hand as a volunteer on June 9 and spoke to the high caliber of marksmen at the event.

“There are some very good shooters here,” Frailey said. “Some of these young kids out here are really good, it’s impressive.”

The event, while not taking place in LaGrange or Troup County, had a significant trickle-down effect on the local economy, according to both.

“It’s very important,” Young said. “I’ve talked to a lot of people who are staying in LaGrange. There are more than 1,500 shooters and that doesn’t count family. I know the hotels are full or close to it.”

“This has been great for LaGrange,” Frailey said. “People are staying in LaGrange and traveling over, this has got to be great for our economy.”

While the consistent cacophony of weapons can be heard from across the plantation at any moment, it remains an incredibly safe environment.

“There are safe things to do with a gun, you can have fun with a gun, you don’t have to kill people,” Alex Summer, a competitor from Ashburn, Ga said.  “We’ve got young kids out here that are 13-14 that are some of the best shooters around. It is very safe.”