SE KS Sporting clay competition draws big tourism dollars

SE KS Sporting clay competition draws big tourism dollars
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Today is the start of a sporting competition in Southeast Kansas. It’s taking place at the Claythorne Lodge, near Columbus.

It’s a sure shot to say, the old wild west has nothing on these guys.

“This particular U.S. Open at Claythorne this year has the potential of being the largest U.S. Open ever held, anywhere in the United States,” says Hugh Sosebee, a volunteer.

It’s the “U.S. Open” for Clay shooting.

“A lot of these shooters aren’t hunters. They’re sporting clay target shooters,” says Frieda Lancaster, co-owner of Claythorne Lodge.

About 1,200 competitors from across the country and world are in rural Cherokee County shooting up clay discs thrown into the air.

“Sporting clay is like a social event. It’s a lot like golf is,” says Sosebee.

And just like golf, it’s a lot harder than it might look.

“I’ve been here eight or ten times,” says Joe Cantey.

Cantey is a South Carolina native and a world champion of sport clay shooting.

“All of these old pits just make great terrain for the kind of shooting we do,” says Cantey.

“Most of these people that are coming and traveling, doing this, are business people that are successful. They’ve been successful in life. They’ve got time to be away to do these things. And any time you get that type of person to come to your area and they see the industriousness, they see the great environment, it opens up avenues,” says Sosebee.

“The economic impact of it is large. And I would estimate probably somewhere between 2.5 to 3.5 million dollars for this region,” says B.J. Harris of the Crawford County Visitors Bureau.

“The trickle down effect is just amazing. It’s just a great impact on all the surrounding communities,” says Cantey.

And who knows? Maybe one of these sportsmen will take aim at a business opportunity in the area.

“I’m a pretty big proponent of the fact that once we get them here, they want to come back,” says Harris.

Competitions are staggered throughout the days ahead, with a final competition scheduled for Sunday. More than one million clay discs were brought in for this event. The discs are made in Webb City, Missouri.