Unless there is a large trap shoot somewhere in the area to draw Wallowa Rod and Gun Club members to another site, the public can drop in almost any Sunday morning at 9 a.m. for some friendly trapshooting. Shooting normally runs from 9 a.m. until about 11 a.m. when shooters are ready to pack away their shotguns for another week.
In what other sport can eight-year-olds and their grandfathers stand toe to toe in friendly competition or, in the doubles shooting event, stand toe to toe as partners? Where else can the same be said of husbands and wives?
Trap shooting has a long history in Wallowa County and is still an active participant today, having staged the past two Oregon state trap shoot competitions in Walla Walla, Wash.
The Wallowa Gun Club is well represented in the Oregon State Hall of Fame of trapshooters by such marksmen as Rayford Guillory, Talbert Bennett, Alan Bennett and Bill Ferguson. Many others have won individual and handicap state titles.
But the sport is much more than the best of the best of shooters, as novice shooters from ages six to eighty-plus are given the opportunity weekly to try their best to break clay pigeons flying at various angles from the traphouse.
Trap shooters normally shoot in squads of five with each shooter having an opportunity to break five birds before advancing to the next of five stations. Novice shooters shoot from the closest 16 yard distance. Advancing at one-yard increments, the shooting gets tougher until one reaches the 27 yard mark where the best shooters normally congregate.
In addition to shooting most Sundays, the Wallowa Rod and Gun Club annually holds some five or six meat shoots where upwards of 100 turkeys and/or hams are given away to winners of five shot shoots. Ties are not uncommon and are often broken by increasing the difficulty of the distance and angle of the shot. The best shooters often go beyond the 27 yard mark to break ties. Entry fees are normally set at $3.
The biggest single event of the year at the Wallowa Gun Club is the Halloween Shoot, which lasts two days and includes a large potluck.
The current president of the Wallowa Rod and Gun Club is Stacey Feik of Imbler. Randal Johnson is vice president, Mary Langdon, secretary, and John Duckworth is the treasurer.
Johnson says it is not uncommon to use a tractor to plow snow off of the shooting pad. The facility is also equipped with lights for night shooting.
The expense of the sport depends primarily on how often one goes to shoot and how many rounds one shoots. Including the cost of shotgun shells, one can easily spend $24 each week if one shoots three rounds. This includes the $3 fee for shooting a round, $2.50 for members, plus the estimated expense of $5 for each box of shells. Many regular trap shooters reduce the cost per box to $3 to $3.50 by loading their own shells at home. Boxes of shells are often sold at the Gun Club.
An automatic trap setter installed five or six years ago simplifies the process, nullifying the need for a person to sit in the traphouse and hand load clay birds. An individual standing next to the official scorer triggers each bird when the shooter signals that he or she is ready. Though not used during meat shoots, the Wallowa Rod and Gun Club also has a voice activated bird release system where the pigeon is activated by voice command.
The gun club is located three miles northwest of Wallowa on Lower Diamond Prairie Road across the Wallowa River from Wallowa Forest Products.