There’s no arguing the fact that when people go away from home, they’re going to spend money, and whenever large groups gather in one place for some sort of event, the economy of the surrounding area benefits.

That statement applies whether the event lasts hours, a day or more than one day, but certainly more so when folks remain for more than a day. People will pay to eat and shop, and they can’t avoid making sure their vehicle is gassed up. They also tend to enjoy being comfortable at night, and will gladly pony up a few bucks for a room with a warm bed and a TV.

Here in the Houston area, there are multiple businesses and organizations that generate gatherings on a fairly regular basis, but few are as consistent in bringing in people from far away places than the big Piney Sportsman’s Club. Located on Highway B between Houston and Raymondville, the impact the shooting range facility has on the local economy goes largely unappreciated – and largely unknown, for that matter. In fact, the very existence of the club and its high-quality 600-yard benchrest rifle range and various other firing ranges somehow manages to escape many peoples’ knowledge, even though it has now been in operation for decades.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

Club President Bob Roach likes to point out the lack of awareness there is locally. He was quoted on the subject in a May 2012 article in the Houston Herald.

“There are a lot of people who have lived here a long time and still have no idea this place is here – and it’s been here since 1960,” Roach said. “I don’t think people have a clue how much money gets spent in the area by people who come out here. Lots of ammunition gets bought at many local stores, as well as other shooting supplies and things people need.”

But make no mistake, while it might be “under the radar” of many local residents, a whole lot of gun enthusiasts are well aware the Big Piney Sportsman’s Club exists and take advantage of what it has to offer by congregating there for competitions almost every weekend year round – rain or shine, hot or cold. Whether it’s a “3-gun” match among club members, a regional F-Class (prone position) match, or something as big as an International Benchrest Shooters (IBS) state championship match like the one the club hosted last weekend.

There’s almost always something going on at the club each weekend that draws people and their wallets from other counties or states to the Houston area.

There’s a reason for the IBS focusing its attention on the club’s benchrest range. The worthy facility features 19 stations, a clear-sounding public address system and an all-important roof covering the whole thing.

But the pistol ranges and other shooting areas are also high quality, and that’s why educational organizations like the Fort Leonard Wood-based Tactical Analysis Group LLC (TAG) uses the club’s grounds to host training for law officers and other gun-carrying professionals.

Roach, whose background in shooting puts him in the expert category, thinks highly of the TAG instruction team.

“These guys are top-notch instructors,” he said. “I’d put them up against any others anywhere in the country.”

The Big Piney Sportsman’s Club’s roots can be traced to when five avid shotgun fans gathered weekly to fire their weapons. Now club membership includes more than 200 people (men, women and children), including many from several surrounding states. Whether it’s a middle-aged man shooting a lever-action .22 magnum rifle, a woman in her low 20s practicing with a 9-millimeter pistol, or a teenage boy learning to fire a 30-06 with help from his dad, every imaginable combination of gun and shooter can be found in action on a given day at the club.

Board Vice President Charles Dyer once concisely and aptly summed up the Big Piney Sportsman’s Club’s popularity.

“It’s a rare day that there isn’t someone launching lead out here,” he said.

So it stands to reason that it’s a rare day when someone isn’t spending money locally simply because the club is there.

Lots of information, including how to join and a schedule of activities and competitions, can be found on the club’s website, www.bigpineysportmansclub.com.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email: ddavison@houstonherald.com.

Participants in the International Bench Rest Shooters 2014 600-Yard Missouri State Championships take aim June 21 at the Big Piney Sportsman's Club near Houston, Mo.

Participants in the International Bench Rest Shooters 2014 600-Yard Missouri State Championships take aim June 21 at the Big Piney Sportsman’s Club near Houston, Mo.

Willow Springs resident Danny Wake prepares to fire during the International Bench Rest Shooters 2014 600-Yard Missouri State Championships June 21, 2014, at the Big Piney Sportsman's Club, near Houston, MO.

Willow Springs, Mo., resident Danny Wake prepares to fire during the International Bench Rest Shooters 2014 600-Yard Missouri State Championships June 21, 2014, at the Big Piney Sportsman’s Club, near Houston, Mo.

Summersville resident Don Rabun peers through his rifle's scope during the International Bench Rest Shooters 600-Yard Missouri 2014 State Championships June 21 at the Big Piney Sportsman's Club near Houston, Mo.

Summersville, MO., resident Don Rabun peers through his rifle’s scope during the International Bench Rest Shooters 600-Yard Missouri 2014 State Championships June 21 at the Big Piney Sportsman’s Club near Houston, Mo.

 

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