COLUMBUS, Kan. — It’s been a big week in Columbus, with Claythorne Lodge hosting quite possibly the biggest gathering the state has seen since March of 2020.
Almost 5,000 people from 45 states and five countries have been participating in the NSCA 2021 US Open this week.
Among them, there are over two dozen world and national champions, as well as current Olympic team member Derrick Mein- but you don’t have to be an elite shooter to enjoy the event.
For the first time in his shooting career, Pineville’s Daniel Cowin put his skills to the test in the event- something he recommends to any newcomer looking to sharpen their skills.
Cowin says, “It’s just a lot of fun to get out and meet world class shooters, shake their hand, talk to them, see them shoot, get pointers. People in the shooting community are very helpful.”
Of course, you can’t just walk in- you have to qualify for the event, by shooting at least 600 registered birds.
Cowin says, “I would say that it takes serious commitment if you’re gonna be a top competitor. I try to get out once a week and shoot. The guy shooting at the top tier of this are shooting every day.”
The reward for that dedication is participating in an event of this scale. Other than the excitement of the actual competition, the environment of the overall event is a huge draw.
Cooper Hamblin, event worker, says, “You meet a lot of new people, a lot of people from different countries and states and stuff. There’s prizes and different games you can do, there’s different shot sizes, some people can go to the Olympics here, so that’s pretty neat.”
Even if you aren’t lucky enough to qualify for the Olympics, Cowin says participating in the main event, a 200-bird shoot, is a great way to track your progress.
Cowin says, “We keep score every time, so you can look at your old scorecards. I try to keep a book of my scores so I can look back and see if my performance is improving. It’s a fun sport when you get into it, you kind of get hooked.”
Cowin placed in the top 20 of Class D, hitting 127 out of 200 birds.
The week long 2021 US Open concluded on Sunday. The estimated economic impact of the week-long event is $2.9 million.