If You’re Gonna Learn to Shoot a Gun, Do It in Paradise

Five high-end resorts that offer on-site shooting programs

By Trevor Morrow

If You’re Gonna Learn to Shoot a Gun, Do It in Paradise
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04 May 2016

Consider your typical summer vacation. There’s likely a beach, a pool, maybe a boat.

But how about — in addition to working on your tan — you work on a more useful life skill ... like shooting a gun.

Turns out, you don’t have to rough it in the woods or hit the local gallery to learn how to perfect your aim. Plenty of high-end properties offer controlled shooting environments with safety training and on-site guidance (think more clay pigeons, less The Most Dangerous Game).

And pre- and post- shooting, there’ll be be plenty of time left for golf, spa sessions, beaches and gourmet meals.

Fire away.

Casa Grande at Vermejo Park Ranch
New Mexico

Case Grande: a 25,000-square-foot mansion built in 1909 and now open to refined marksmen after a painstaking restoration. Vermejo Park Ranch: 585,000 private acres of rugged Northern New Mexico terrain. Both the domain of media mogul, land collector and at-large giver of few f***s Ted Turner. Outside, Vermejo guides will help you perfect your aim though sporting clay games aimed at simulating real hunting scenarios, like skeet and 5 Stand. Aim honed, sustainable elk hunting programs are also on offer — along with 16 lakes and 30 miles of streams should you prefer to bag a trout.

Ballyfin
Ireland

There’s something undeniably romantic about an escape to the Irish countryside. It’s quiet, it’s lush, and if you do it right, you shack up in a stately manor house like Ballyfin. And like the region’s aristocrats of yesteryear, you should know your way around a rifle. For that, there’s Ballyfin’s 50-meter air rifle target shooting range and clay pigeon shooting course. For something stealthier, there’s also instruction in archery and an introduction to falconry.  

Big Cedar Lodge
Missouri

What do you get when the billionaire founder of Bass Pro Shops, mecca of all things hunting and fishing, decides to build a resort? You get Big Cedar Lodge, a sprawling complex of cabins and lodge rooms nestled in the Ozark Mountains. Coming to the property this summer: the Bass Pro Shops’ Outdoor Academy, a 1,200-acre recreation area “designed to take gunning to a whole new level” (their words). Here, it’s all about shooting sports, with hands-on training in sporting clays, skeet and upland bird hunting. Then there’s the BB gun range … because start ‘em young.

Nekupe Sporting Resort and Retreat
Nicaragua

Opening in August of 2016, Nekupe is changing the game when it comes to luxury hotels in Central America. there’s fine dining, high-end rooms (of which there are only eight), a spa and yoga instruction — and also an 11-station sport clay course integrated into the Pacific countryside terrain. Also of note: each room comes with its own ATV for navigating the surrounding 1,300-acre private nature reserve.

Kauri Cliffs
New Zealand

At Kauri Cliffs, daylight is for private beach barbecues of fresh grilled seafood and golfing the cliffside championship golf course (voted one of the greatest in the world by Golf Digest). Come evening, and after the appropriate training with a rifle, it’s on to the night hunt. On this excursion, it’s all about putting your shooting skills to good use. Together with a guide, you’ll be charged with helping control the local possum and rabbit population — two non-native creatures who are wreaking havoc on New Zealand’s ecosystems. So really, it’s ecotourism at its finest.  

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