By Doug Graham
COLUMBUS, Kan. — Sam and Frieda Lancaster, owners of Claythorne Lodge, have a number of strategies to attract customers.
The lodge, a few miles west of Columbus at 1329 N.W. 100th Road, will be host for a nationally advertised clay-shooting event dubbed the Freedom Cup on June 27-29. It is a 200-target shooting competition. A separate European-style shooting competition also will be held.
While the Freedom Cup is aimed mainly at seasoned shooters, the owners say Claythorne offers one-stop shopping for people interested in shotgun sporting — even if they have never before held a gun.
“We host these registered events,” said Frieda Lancaster, “(but) we’re also here for the beginners.”
“Youth and ladies,” added Sam Lancaster. “We cater to youth and ladies. Get ‘em started.”
Bill and Jerry Trotnic visited Claythorne Lodge recently for a round of clay shooting. The brothers were first-time shooters at Claythorne.
Bill Trotnic, from Oswego, read about Claythorne, and when Jerry Trotnic visited from Spring, Texas, he decided to head to the lodge for some family shooting.
“I love it,” said Jerry Trotnic, after firing his first few shots.
The lodge features winding trails that lead to dozens of clay-shooting stations, often nestled near small ponds. The range was designed by Sam Lancaster, who had to keep in mind the direction of fire at each station.
“Golf with a shotgun is what it has been called at times,” he said.
Claythorne also features fully automated courses. Computer-controlled machines throw clays at the press of a button.
“What’s unique about that is an individual all alone can come throw his own targets,” Sam Lancaster said.
Manager Jake Neely said the courses change every other week to keep the regulars — some of whom visit twice a week — entertained.
Neely said he does a little bit of everything at Claythorne, from escorting novice shooters to giving safety lessons to cooking meals for those staying in the lodge’s 14 bedrooms.
He also staffs the register at the pro shop, which stocks everything shooters might need, including earplugs, ammunition, safety glasses and clothing.
The Lancasters said Claythorne also is host for corporate gatherings, and offers several conference rooms to accommodate workshops and meetings.
“Our main objective is to be a corporate retreat,” said Frieda Lancaster.
It also has several buildings with sleeping rooms, one of which has a large lounge with some of the Lancasters’ hunting trophies — including two moose heads.
There is more to shoot than targets.
Claythorne also offers half-day and full-day quail and pheasant hunts. Guided and unguided hunts are available with and without breakfast or lunch. The Lancasters also own a big-game hunting lodge called Bohar.
By Doug Graham