LOCATED ABOUT A HALF-HOUR’S DRIVE SOUTHWEST OF PORTLAND, OREGON, the Newberg Rod and Gun Club has served as an integral sporting and social gathering spot for shooters of all ages for the last 75 years.
Like many ranges, Newberg has seen membership rise, decline, and rise again over the years and, today, the club boasts a deep volunteer roster as well as more than 100 members. The club’s surge in popularity meant upgrades needed to happen—even during the pandemic, said David Craig, who serves as Newberg’s club president.
Having thrown nearly 200,000 clay targets on a pair of traps the year before, Craig and fellow club officers simply found their cherished facility bursting at the seams. “2020 brought in some significant changes to the club,” said Craig, who’s also the head coach of Newberg High School’s trapshooting team. “We expanded with a third trap field, which has enabled us to throw even more targets during peak times and get greater
attendance at our sanctioned shoots.” The club’s three trap fields (one which is covered—a feature that comes in quite handy during Oregon’s frequently inclement weather) are automated with voice calls and
self-serve controllers that dispense targets for tokens or pre-loaded RFID cards. Occasionally, volunteers will set up 5-stand, but they mostly throw basic trap, Craig said.
Additionally, the venerable property features a forested camping area as well as a modest clubhouse that features a kitchen, restrooms, a wood stove, and plenty of indoor space for moderately sized groups to gather.
Over the last few years, Craig has been spending much of his time focusing on helping the next generation of local athletes fall in love with the sport. In fact, as head coach of Newberg High School’s team, Craig has been able to see much of the club’s rise in popularity stem from its involvement with the USA Clay Target League. “Early in my tenure as president, we recognized that our shooters were aging, and we were not getting new younger shooters to take their place,” Craig said. “So, when the USA Clay Target League came to Oregon four years ago, it was an easy decision to jump in
with both feet.”
The League gave Newberg access to schools and a much higher chance of building youth participation. Although it took some effort to get local schools on board, success came quickly once club officers had approval. Yamhill-Carlton High School, located just 12 miles west of Newberg, was the first school to join, and the following season Newberg joined them. Today, the two teams total 70 kids and 13 volunteer coaches. “The League has been a real boost to Newberg Rod and Gun Club,” Craig said. “Not only are we getting a ton of youth shooting, but USA High School Clay Target League
activities have introduced the sport to lots of parents and grandparents, many of whom have also started shooting.”
“The League offers many benefits to those that participate. It is personally
rewarding for the volunteers and the kids, and it has created a revival of the sport in our local community.” The club and its many volunteers work hard to follow the League’s mission. “Trapshooting offers the opportunity for any student to learn about firearms and firearm safety,” Craig said. “This is a sport that frequently rewards dedication and hard work. There is the opportunity to be on a team on which everyone participates, and you
can only help the team—never hurt it.” The new relationship with the League is a win-win. “When it comes to our students, we are reaching and benefiting kids, many of whom may not fit in other activities,” Craig said. “This is safe, fun, challenging, coed, and offers high school students the opportunity to earn a varsity letter. It is definitely a worthwhile investment in the future of our sport.”