It's something like the lottery, though you pay more to play and youdon't win as much.
But, you have more fun -- and have a better chance to win.
The name of the game is trap shooting on the Maryland State Sportsmen's Association registered circuit. This weekend, Carroll County Gun Club is host for the competition for the first time this season atits facility on the north side of Liberty Road, one-half mile east of Route 97.
The event is the Free State Handicap, which was to open yesterday and resume today, with entries closing at 11 a.m. Though shooting is a participation sport, it can be interesting and even exciting to watch, and spectators are invited at no charge.
The real thrill is in the shooting, and a winner can make several thousand dollars or more in an hour on the firing range.
Not bad, but, like the lottery, it takes a lot of losers to make a big pot. However, the losers get more than a useless ticket.
They have the fun of trying to shatter clay targets, and the sportsmanship for which trap is known. To stand a chance of winning big money, it can cost a fellow -- oran Annie Oakley -- who wants to get in all the pots as much as $300 a day in shells and various entrance fees, but winnings of $6,000 to $8,000 are possible in state shoots.
Nearly 500 are expected to take part in the local competition, because the Carroll shoot is one ofthe biggest on the circuit. The club is one of the oldest in the state, and also one of the best with nine trap ranges, four of which arelighted.
Incidentally, the Carroll club is open to the public forpractice at a moderate fee. (Call 795-9839).
Though Maryland is asmall state geographically, it usually ranks from fifth to eighth inthe number of nationally registered targets shot, and each year the clay bird numbers rise. In the state championship last year, more than 1 million targets were shot at.
One of the best in the world, and atop the heap in Maryland, is Brad Dysinger of Cambridge, who last year shot at 13,600 flying clays. He's a professional who does it full time and, combined with his sika deer guiding operation in Dorchester County, makes a good living.
Dysinger was number one on the 1991 Maryland State Team with an average of 96.61, which means he hit better than 96 of every 100 targets. The Maryland team is considered one of the best in the nation.
Not only does such a ranking involve constant shooting to keep an edge, but also considerable costs. Generally, it's figured each registered target fired at represents an expense of one dollar, which includes entrance fees, optional fees for those who gamble they can beat the field, shells and travel costs.
Other state sanctioned shoots in this area this year include: The 23rdRed Rose Shoot, April 25-26, Mount Airy Izaak Walton Gun Club on Woodville Road; Strawberry Shoot, May 16-17, Thurmont Conservation & Sportsman's Club, Hunt Club Road; Carroll County Gun Club Shoot, May 30-31; Carroll County Gun Club Shoot, June 20-21; Carroll County Gun Club Fourth of July Shoot, July 4-5; Carroll Gun Club Shoot, Aug. 8-9; Mount Airy Izaak Walton Shoot, Aug. 16; Mount Airy Izaak Walton Corn Shoot, Sept. 5-7; Carroll Gun Club's Last Shoot, Sept. 19-20; NationalTrapshooting Day at Mount Airy Izaak Walton, Oct. 4.
The Carroll County Gun Club also has a series of Friday night shoots June 19, July 3 and 10.
Information: Maryland State Sportsmen's Association, (410) 592-5259.
The stalemate continues on the zebra mussel front, though Duke Nohe, who heads a fishermen's coalition negotiating with the Baltimore City Department of Public Works reports things look better in efforts to reopen Prettyboy, Loch Raven and Liberty Reservoirs to public boating.
"First I thought it was 50-50, now it's 60-40," said Nohe after the latest negotiations with water officials. "It's going to be tough, but we're fighting."
Rumors that Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission is reconsidering its plan to keep Triadelphia and Rocky Gorge Reservoirs open to boats have no basis, saidBill Gormly, chief of information for WSSC.
"We are checking bothreservoirs, see no problem, and have no plans to reconsider the current policy," he added.
One problem could be developing there, however -- boat traffic. With Loch Raven, Prettyboy and Liberty closed tovisiting boats, Triadelphia and Rocky Gorge have become crowded and some regulars on those two 800-acre lakes to complain that they will be overfished.