This is not so much a confession as “more about me than you care to know”, but starting when I was about five years old, my father (who was, let’s admit it, kind of crazy), started taking me hunting. I began with small animals (there are a lot fewer chipmunks and squirrels in the Catskill Mountains than there would have been) and my very own .22, and over the years we worked our way up the food chain (and the calibre) to what would have eventually been Communists.
Yes, I said Communists. My father was convinced (we’re talking around 1960) that the Communists were going to take over and we were all going to have to… well, I never really know… go Underground? Luckily I figured out there was something seriously wrong with this plan before we got to Communists and I stopped the whole crazy trajectory when I was about twelve, but the legacy remained… shooting guns (at inanimate objects) is fun.
I am sure that you religiously read all of my blogs and know that I have written about “Luxury Retreats with Horses” and “Luxury Retreats with Fish”. It was just a matter of time before we got to “Luxury Retreats with Guns”. If your decision-maker likes guns, or wants to do a Team Building “thing” involving loud noises and really fast moving pieces of metal, than here are some ideas for your next meeting, retreat, or shoot-em-up…
The Gleneagles Hotel, Scotland
I can dream, can’t I? Just one hour from Glasgow and Edinburgh, The Gleneagles Hotel is one of those iconic grand hotels that set the standard for everyone else. The property is an 850-acre estate with its own railway station, 232 luxury bedrooms and suites, destination Spa, Scotland’s only two Michelin-starred restaurant, three championship golf courses, an Equestrian school (they mean horses)… you get the idea.
But for our purposes today… for groups they recommend… and I am not making this up… a Shooting Break. Would you like a shotgun with your coffee and Danish this morning?
For groups - They are more than happy to arrange a morning's lessons and an afternoon competition. You can shoot at targets, clay pigeons, your boss (Important note – if you work for the Post Office, I am just kidding about the boss thing). The hotel kindly provided me with a list of Clay Shooting Targets. As an example, here are the first three…
- The Haggis - A well-known Scottish delicacy, this stand provides a very realistic jumping target that propels itself away from the shooter.
- The Bolting Rabbit - Many shooters nemesis, a running 'ground' target from left to right that explores the practicalities of shooting where its' going and not where it's been!
- The Snipe - A fast and variable target that teaches the shooter to mount quickly and acquire this tricky 'bird'.
There are a lot more.
The Activities School at Gleneagles also offers archery and trout fishing (presumably those are two separate activities) a Gundog School where guests can learn how to handle a trained gundog (why wait until it’s too late and you wished you had taken the course), and the British School of Falconry. If you miss management at the Shooting Break you can always try Falconry. (www.gleneagles.com)
The Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort, San Antonio, TX
I am already breaking my own rule about only writing about properties with Gun Clubs on property… because this property does not have one. BUT… what they do have is a partnership with the National Shooting Complex, a 600+ acre complex just six miles from the resort. The NSC is recognized as one of the largest and most complete shooting complexes in the World (that’s right – the world). I will go so far to say within our Solar System.
As the headquarters for the National Skeet Shooting Association and National Sporting Clays Association, it hosts elite tournaments for both sports. Their promo material also says they host thousands of serious competitors and casual shooters each year. I am not so sure I want to be around a bunch of casual shooters, but I will assume that is a technical term. The promo material also refers to their complex as being a property filled with peaceful rolling hills and gun enthusiasts. I have to look up oxymoron in the dictionary, but I am guessing that qualifies.
The Complex staff has extensive experience in event management and can create a program to match your needs, from a small company outing to a large competitive or corporate event. That’s what they do. (www.nssa-nsca.org)
The Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa is built upon 300 (peaceful) acres of the historic Rogers-Wiseman family ranch. With 500 guestrooms, over 73,000 square feet of indoor meeting and pre-function space, 100,000 square feet of natural outdoor event space, and all of the Hyatt service stuff, it’s a nice place. For those who don’t want to just shoot at things with guns, there is a 27-hole Arthur Hills golf course, a Spa, a 950-foot “Ramblin’ River” (I am no expert so I do not know if 950 feet is a long Ramblin’ River or a short one), and a FlowRider Wave Machine (of all things). (Hillcountry.hyatt.com)
The Equinox Golf Resort & Spa, Manchester, VT
OK, breaking my own rule again (I have a custom-made T-shirt that says “All Rules Are Made-Up”) in that the shooting range at the Equinox is actually two miles from the property at the Orvis School (has fish too). Since it’s my blog and the Equinox is a cool place, I can do whatever I want (freedom being just another word for nothing left to lose).
One of the reasons I like the Equinox is that their concierge, Richard Hom, not only sent me info on the Clay Shooting opportunities at the school (and yes, your group can do their thing there), but he also sent me this note…
“Personal Story: My favorite Summer Activity – Sporting Clays Shooting with Orvis endorsed guide, Peter Kutzer. Standing 6’8”, Pete is a pretty imposing figure, a cross between Paul Bunyan and Davy Crockett. Peter and staff are experts in teaching the finer points of shotgun shooting. They refer to the English Churchill method, an instinctive approach on how to stand, how to hold your gun, how to pick up the sporting clay and how to deftly shoot the target. Orvis and the Equinox share history as far back as the 1840’s when Franklin Orvis was the general Manager of the hotel. Through his guidance the resort grew and added the Equinox Pond, Orvis Inn and countless other guest amenities. Franklin’s brother, Charles F. Orvis opened a tackle shop in 1856 and the story of fly fishing in the Northeast. They are now one of the premier fine country outfitters in the world, specializing in fly fishing, hunting and sporting goods. Their shooting grounds in Vermont are a few miles from the hotel nestled deep into the woods of Manchester, Vermont. In the summer, these Green Mountains are colored with leaves that have filled in nicely on a mixture of elms, birch, oak and maple trees and silhouette the orange clays as they fly through the air. While shooting can be quite exhilarating, it can also be a Zen-like experience while you’re there; peaceful surrounding, focused breathing, following the clay and gently squeezing the trigger. I’ve shot occasionally for about 10 years and still get a thrill each time I’m out.”
Now this is WAY more than I asked for, but that is why Richard is a member of Le Clefs d’Or USA. If you need other reasons to like the Equinox…
It’s open year-round, is a member of the Starwood Luxury Collection, has 195 rooms, championship golf, a great Spa, an off-road driving school, a fly-fishing school (and is only a ten-minute walk from the American Museum of Fly-Fishing!), lots of pools, near to skiing and a zillion winter sports, four restaurants, and 18,500 sq. ft. of meeting space. (The Equinox Golf Resort & Spa)
The American Club, Kohler, WI
Let’s not even call it The American Club. Let’s call it Destination Kohler.
The American Club, a Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond resort-hotel was named #3 Golf Resort in North America, by Golf Digest Magazine. It’s just one hour north of Milwaukee and is one of the “classic” resorts that every major company in the universe has been to at least once. If you have to do something in the mid-west, do it here.
But forget golf for a moment (if you can). Let’s talk guns… they wanted me to be very specific. They are not, and do not have, a Gun Club. But they definitely have guns for recreational use (and for group stuff). And now it gets even better because they feature…
River Wildlife, a 500-acre wilderness preserve, is maintained in a natural state for the preservation of native vegetation. It has members… and Resort guests can have access for a fee. Among the many other things you can find there, your group can arrange…
Trapshooting : On-your-command targets hurtle away at 45-degree angles and varying heights, offering valuable warm–up before a pheasant hunt or providing novice/beginners with a great opportunity to learn basic shooting skills. Trapshooting can also be a fun, competitive activity for larger groups.
5-Stand Shooting: A compact 5-stand course provides an invigorating workout for the experienced shooter. Each station simulates different wild game as it’s being flushed: “running rabbit,” “springing teal,” etc.
Air Rifles: Shooting fun for any age (for some reason this sounds funny to me). An air rifle, targets and ammunition are provided.
Pheasant Hunting (Mid-September–Early Spring) One of the Midwest’s premier shooting clubs offers upland bird hunting in a variety of terrains. Their three hunt fields are planted with native prairie grasses and annual cover crops. Since they are situated along the river and woods, they provide a challenging workout for both hunters and their dogs. Expert guides, dogs and equipment are available. If you had listened to my advice and taken that hunting dog course at Gleneagles, you would know how to handle your dog in Wisconsin. (http://www.americanclubresort.com)
That’s all for now. Please send me your favorite Resort with Gun suggestions, we will check them out and share with everyone. The same goes for all of our other blog subjects.
Oh, and this too… if you have a particular subject you want to know more about, tell me, we’ll do the research and post it in one of our newsletters with links to resources. All subjects will be considered. firstname.lastname@example.org :)
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