Jan White firmly believes there’s something for everyone at Reynolds.

A Reynolds Member since 2004, Jan was an avid tennis player for many years. However, an unfortunate knee injury forced her to put the racket down and look for another activity. On the recommendation of a friend she signed up for an Annie Oakley Shoot at the Sandy Creek Sporting Grounds.

A women’s-only sporting clays club, the Annie Oakley Shoot is a friendly group that encompasses shooters of all skill levels. Despite never having held a gun before in her life, Jan enjoyed herself. So she went back the next week. And went back again. Soon she was a regular at the shoots, and had found her next thing.

Fast-forward a few years. In the wake of COVID and the implementation of social distancing protocols, Annie Oakley Shoots were forced to be cancelled. At home and restless, in November of 2020 Jan reached out to Justin Jones, Director of the Sandy Creek Sporting Grounds, and Reynolds Lake Oconee management on starting another – albeit smaller – group. “If I reached out to a few of my friends, could we get it going again?” she asked.

The answer was yes, and GIRLS was born.

Standing for Girls in Reynolds Love Shooting (GIRLS), she envisioned GIRLS with a similar composition to Annie Oakley Shoots: friendly, not overly competitive, and inclusive to all – shooters and non-shooters alike.

Emerging from those humble beginnings, the group has grown steadily since as social distancing restrictions have lessened – what were initially gatherings of eight to twelve Members has become an email list forty strong.

Jan says most ladies are total beginners, just as she once was. “Of the forty ladies we have in the group now, I’d estimate twenty-five of them had never shot before. It’s exciting to see so many step out of their comfort zone!”

She gives credit to Justin and his team of guides at the Sporting Grounds for making sure beginners feel safe and are comfortable handling a shotgun before hitting the course. Safety is paramount, and a demo and briefing are done at the outfitters beforehand; there, the ladies are also given eye protection and noise-suppressing earplugs. And prior to hitting the twenty stations that encompass the course, most ladies start at the five-stand - a relaxed entrance to the world of sporting clays.

In just a few short months GIRLS has grown by word-of-mouth to become the largest group visiting the Sporting Grounds on a monthly basis. A post-shoot social component at the Sandy Creek Barn has been added. And new Members are coming – Jan estimates she receives several emails each month from Reynolds Members interested in GIRLS.

For those interested at getting involved at Reynolds – whether in GIRLS or one of the myriad other clubs, groups, and activities Reynolds offers – her advice is simple. “Just step out and do it,” she says. “Everyone at Reynolds is very welcoming and there’s something for everyone to do.”

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