The Silver Willow Sporting Clays Club has certainly evolved over its 26 year history, from its rustic and simple beginnings to the present day sophistication of automation and comfort.
For those of you that don't know the story behind the Silver Willow Club, read on.
Owner and creator, Don Day shot sporting clays in 1988 for his first time and was hooked on the sport from that day onward. He continued shooting sporting clays, (very successfully) and decided to convert their third generation family farm into a business where he, wife Gwen and the other family members could work together. It took them away from the usual 9 to 5 grind and into a unique outdoor world.
They opened their doors initially as "Silver Willow Pheasant Farm Ltd.", with a 10 station sporting clays course with manual traps they had purchased from England. Pheasants were raised there until 2008. Time passed and funds became available to erect a large club house that they powered with solar panels. This was truly a sign of how forward thinking and progressive they were and are today, embracing new technology and always looking for a "better way" of doing things.
After a few successful years they were able to purchase automatic machines and phased out the manual traps.They progressed to a fully solar powered automatic course in 1998 with 14 stations and in 2010 put up their "Five - Stand Duck Pond" (pictured below) to add more variety for their shooters. Again, in keeping with the times they added a wireless IPull clay target release system that can be set for voice activation. It operates the 68 automatic machines, giving shooters the ultimate in automation and convenience. Further improvements included their new Uplands Cookhouse which was built in 2013 and an additional 14 station course was added called the "Blue Course" shortly therafter. "Day & Co. Shotgun Sports" was opened offering shooters all the necessities required for the sport under one roof and further supplying their customers' needs.
The entire Day Family shoots to some capacity and has a role in the family business. Silver Willow truly is "A Family Affair."
Their son Josh has partnered wth his parents and manages the club as well as operates a lot of the claycourse and their specialty store called "Day & Company". Daughter Andrea is an accomplished competitor in sportng clays and keeps her hand in the business by doing their books. Their daughter Chantal enjoys shooting with friends and husband Travis and is the front line of customer service at the club.
The Day Family have been ambassadors of the sport by promoting growth amongst women and youngsters, offering on-site shooting clinics and PAL courses several times a year. Their newly added "Shotgun Academy" with instructor Andrew Harvision is yet another projected need they have satisfied for their customers. Silver Willow has also become a successful corporate retreat for companies looking for something "a little different".
They have reinvented themselves over and over, paying attention all along to what their customers wanted, great customer service, a fun and safe shooting environment and the resources to improve. A recipe for success!!
Necessity is the mother of invention!!
Silver Willow's progressive and forward looking business acumen has truly made them "Canada's Premier Shotgun Sports Facility", a goal we should all hope to reach some day.
NSCA - Canada
****Silver Willow Sportng Club is located in Carstairs, Alberta, 30 minutes north of Calgary.
Visit their web site: www.silverwillow.ca