AREA WOMEN SET SIGHTS ON TOURNAMENT
By Frank Miller
The Tomball Sun
May 28, 1987
As wives of avid hunters, Sandi Nail and Vicki Ash figured sooner or later that they would have to learn to handle a shotgun.
Sandi and Vicki knew their husbands were expert marksmen and could properly show the women how to fire a 12-gauge shotgun. Within three years, with the help of their husbands, the women developed a knack for shooting.
They also developed a skill for shooting sporting clays, a sport in which small saucer-shaped clay targets that simulate “gamebirds” are shot in flight. Last weekend the two women took first and second place in the women’s division of the U.S. Sporting Clays Championship held in Fulshear. Sandi, a Pinehurst resident, placed first, shooting 54 out of 100 targets, while Vicki, a resident of Cypress, placed second with a 48.
Kenny Nail, Sandi’s husband, says the two women shot better than a third of the men shooters.
Sporting clays is a sport that has grown rapidly in the past few years. Last year there were only 25 ranges nationwide; currently there are 100, with more under construction. The sport originated in England.
At the championship last weekend, shooters came from 23 states, England, Canada, and Jamaica.
Some of the clay targets are the size of a silver dollar, but most average 3 inches in diameter, and vary from minis, middies, and regular standard targets.
The simulated targets are launched from a 126-foot tower named Big Ben to a smaller 60-foot tower, flying at speeds up to 120 mph. There are also spring-launched targets such as “springing teal” and clay “rabbits,” which roll across the ground and appear briefly between stacks of hay bales.
No shooter has ever hit all targets in a 100-bird sporting clays championship. At last weekend’s men’s competition, A.J. “Smoker” Smith of England hit 81 of 100 targets. “He usually averages 91,” Kenny Nail says. Kenny also competed along with Vicki’s husband, Gil Ash, who is a member of the U.S. sporting team that will compete at the Beretta World Sporting Clays Championship in England next week.
Both women credit their success to their husbands’ coaching abilities.
Sandi says she developed her shooter’s touch with time and practice. “My husband was interested in shooting. I just sort of got pulled in. He was always gone shooting, so I decided if I was going to be with him I needed to pick up a shotgun,” she explains. Sandi used a 12-gauge Remington 3200 over-under with Briley chokes for competition.
Vicki, the current sporting clays Texas state champ, adds, “Gil’s the best coach that I could have.” Vicki uses a Browning Citori 12-gauge shotgun with Briley chokes.
Besides being coached, the two women also logged in long hours of target practice at Champion Lake Gun Club and Highland Bend where they are members.