Saturday, January 28th, 2023
Saturday, January 28th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Ohio shooting center started with humble beginnings

Marengo, Ohio — Over the past decade, it has steadily grown to become the largest privately owned recreational shooting facility not only in Ohio, but in all of America.

The numbers alone are enough to impress. Fifty-two trapshooting fields sit side by side, stretching a full mile. In addition, there are 14 skeet fields, 14 pistol and small-bore rifle ranges, as well as two full sporting clays ranges, even an archery range.

Cardinal Shooting Center is located on some 500 acres near Marengo. Owned by Jack Fishburn and his family, as large and successful as the facility has become it almost didn’t happen.

“My wife, Karen, and I first purchased a rundown campground along Interstate 71, thinking we would make it into a nice, family-friendly campground,” said Jack Fishburn. “But no sooner had we started that undertaking than a few members from the Ohio State Trapshooting Association approached me about putting in trapshooting fields. Not being a shooter myself, I told them I wasn’t interested.”

But the OSTA folks were persistent, inviting Jack to attend a day at the annual Grand American, the largest competitive trapshoot in the country, attracting shooters from all over North America.

“What I saw there really impressed me,” said Jack. “There were thousands of shooters, some of them carrying shotguns worth $20,000 or more. These men and women would come off the shooting line, place their expensive guns in a rack, and just walk off and leave them for an hour or more while they went to eat lunch. They knew their guns would not be disturbed. That was the kind of clientele I wanted to attract.”

So in 2005, Jack Fishburn and his various construction crews went to work installing trapshooting fields and all the other amenities thousands of shooters would need. It was a hectic year, but they finished just in time for the summer shooting season of 2006.

Last summer, Cardinal Shooting Center attracted three of the six largest trapshooting events in the country. And for the first time, it hosted the Scholastic Clay Target Program and the Scholastic Action Shooting Program National Championships, the largest national youth shooting competitions in America. Representing nearly 30 states, some 3,000 young shooters – ages late grade school through college – competed in shotgun, handgun, and rifle shooting. And they’ll be returning in 2017.

Commenting about the eight-day competition, a shooting coach from Arkansas quipped, “The great thing about this week is that all the kids here will have guns and no one will get hurt. Most of America only hears the negative side of kids with firearms. I just wish they could see this.”

What’s in the future for Cardinal Shooting Center? At age 83, Jack Fishburn still goes to work every day and is planning an additional 50-yard pistol range, 100-yard high-power rifle range, plus three more skeet fields, and an additional sporting clays course. A second lodge will also be built, mainly for conducting indoor firearms instruction and concealed-carry handgun classes.

Last year alone seven million clay targets were thrown at Cardinal Shooting Center, enough to fill 36 semi-truck trailers. Cardinal Shooting Center (thecardinalcenter.com) is open to the public.

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