One of Florida’s oldest clay shooting grounds, the Port of the Islands Gun Club, is now under new management and has been renamed Gulf Coast Clays. British businessman and shooting enthusiast Colin Burrows bought the club, located halfway between Naples and Everglades City in Collier County, Fla. and has plans for improvements to the facility and its sporting clay options and services.
The club occupies over 50 acres on the edge of the Florida Everglades and is the only clay range in the region with two trap fields, two skeet, Five Stand and a 15 stand sporting clay layout.
A clay shooting club has been on the site since 1966. Current membership is drawn mostly from residents and tourists in the nearby Naples area and business is largely seasonal, peaking between January and April. However, Burrows’ plan is to join forces with some of the year-round attractions that bring people to the area to increase awareness of the club and the opportunity to experience clay shooting in a beautiful and well-managed environment.
“It’s been great getting to know this area and I’m hugely impressed with it as a vacation destination,” said Burrows. “I plan to exploit that shamelessly to draw visitors to our club. Clay shooting truly is a sport for all and it is an activity that fits well into the wide variety of leisure activities already on offer in the region.”
Burrows also intends to strengthen the links between the U.K. and U.S. shooting communities wherever possible and will be actively encouraging British shooters to enjoy some sunshine shooting this winter. Burrows has plans to operate shooting clinics with leading British coaches through the winter and will be making a further announcement about that shortly.
“The response has been uniformly positive from British shooters for obvious reasons,” says Burrows. “It’s a fantastic climate for shooting through the winter which is not a thing I can truthfully say about the U.K. Dry, sunny and warm conditions prevail and it makes for a very pleasant sport shooting experience.”
Gulf Coast Clays has already teamed up with Cole Gunsmithing, a well-known U.S. gunsmith/gun-fitter and a Premium Beretta dealer based both in Maine and Naples to provide members with an on-site service center.
“I was looking for a partner who could provide sales and maintenance support,” adds Burrows. “Rich Cole knows the shotgun sports and is well-versed in Beretta, Perazzi, Caesar Guerini and other fine Italian shotguns. Cole has strong relationships with the gun makers and has a great reputation so we’ll be able to assist our club members at the highest level but also offer overseas visitors a buying and fitting service that will be second to none. Naples doesn’t know how lucky it is having Rich on its doorstep. It’s like having Stradivarius handy to tune your violin.”
Burrows, 53, who runs a TV production company in London, saw the club advertised for sale in an issue of the Clay Pigeon Shooting Association’s (CPSA’s) PULL! magazine earlier this year.
“There’s quite a strong ex-pat community in the Naples/Marco Island area and several British club members encouraged the owner to place an ad, which brought the property to my attention,” noted Burrows.
The club also benefits from the presence of champion skeet shooter Becky McCumber, which Burrows says makes Gulf Coast Clays a center of excellence. “Becky is a national champion who is an icon for anyone who knows the sport.”
Day-to-day management will be handled by locally based General Manager Brian Featheringham. “Clubs are only as good as their managers,” asserts Burrows, “In Brian I’m fortunate to have both competence and enthusiasm. He’s been working with previous owner D.J. Gasaway for several weeks now to ensure a smooth transition. We’re looking forward to opening a new chapter in this club’s long running history.”
For more information visit www.GulfCoastClays.com or call 239-642-8999.