Nail Zeros in on Titles


By Frank Miller

IN HER SIGHTS: Sandi Nail of Pinehurst prepares to shoot another clay target during a recent tournament near Houston. Nail is the U.S. women’s clay and skeet shooting champion. -photo by SCOTT ALLEN

Zeroing in with a shotgun on a flying target two inches in diameter involves both brain and brawn.

Sandi Nail of Pinehurst is a Sporting Clays shotgunner who blasts targets this size and others into pieces during shooting events held nationwide.

Nail is the dual winner of the national women’s champion of the United States Sporting Clays women’s championship and the National Skeet Shooting Association women’s title.

Sporting Clays involves hitting targets such as the two-inch flat clay disks, flocks of clay ducks and groups of clay rabbits that scurry along the ground.  A simulated quail hunt is also another test of skill.

Nail, whose father was a sharpshooter in the U.S. Army, usually hits more than 70 percent of the targets.

However, she thinks there is room for improvement. “My goal is to average in the 80s.  I feel like I am getting better all the time.”

Shooting involves not just good hand-to-eye coordination but intense concentration and stamina.

Skeet shooting, Nail says, is more of a “uniform” competition in which a shooter tries to hit clay targets thrown from “houses.”  Shooters move to eight different stations during a tournament.

Sporting Clays traces its origin to Europe and is one of the all shotgun games in the United States.

During the United States Clays Championship, held July 1 and 2 near Weston, Mo., Nail competed against 27 other women.

The National Skeet Shooting Championship was held June 24 and 25 at Prior Lake, Minn.  Nail defeated seven other entries.

Locally, shoots usually attract around 10 women per event. Nail says that list will grow.  “A lot of women are interested in Sporting Clays. They just haven’t got up the gumption yet.”

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