Dana Farrell is the editor of ClayShootingUSA magazine and an avid sporting-clays competitor. Spending most of his time with a shotgun both for fun and work, Farrell was kind enough to share what he keeps in his range bag.
What are your first memories of handling a firearm? When I was around 11 years old, I picked up my first real firearm. I begged my dad for a Marlin .22 LR. He finally gave in and bought me a Glenfield Marlin Model 60 Automatic. My older brother and I had been shooting air guns for a few years and were dying to progress to real guns. Dad hunted as a younger man, but my mom talked him out of having guns in the house while we were young. When my brother and I showed an interest, they relented and allowed us the chance to shoot and hunt.
Tell us how you began in competitive shooting. At my home in Michigan, I started hunting small game—mostly squirrel and some pheasant. I have fond memories of those days. Eventually, I progressed from a .22 LR to a single-shot 20-gauge, which was a lot of fun as well. This was back in the late 1960s. Life was a little different then. I used to have a subscription to Sports Afield magazine as a 12-year-old. I would literally read it from cover to cover sitting in an easy chair, fantasizing about all the article subjects in each issue. I wanted to bear hunt, elk hunt, shoot trap and get a bird dog for upland hunting. It sparked my imagination. Later on, when I started writing, I set a goal to be published in the same type of magazine that sparked such imagination during my formative years. That dream was fulfilled when I published a Sports Afield story about a horseback spring bear hunt in the Frank Church Wilderness of Idaho.
Please share with us some of your major shooting accomplishments. Before life got in the way, I shot and hunted for a while. Until around the year 2000, I wasn’t doing a lot of shooting. Having sold most of my guns, I bought a shotgun and started shooting recreational skeet at a local gun club. I heard about this game called sporting clays and just had to give it a try. I found a local club throwing sporting clays targets and became engrossed in that, shooting it recreationally for a few years, until finally advancing to NSCA competition around 2004.
I’ve oscillated between AA class and Master class in NSCA sporting clays for the past several years. I really enjoy the camaraderie the sport provides. Because of my editor job at ClayShootingUSA magazine, I meet a lot of industry insiders and professional shooters, which is very satisfying. I love the shooting industry and the honest people in it.
What firearms and other gear do you use for competition? I currently shoot the new Beretta 694 sporting-clays gun, the 30-inch version. I love this shotgun, and it moves really well. I’ve got some other shotguns I’m also very fond of, including a Browning Grade III Citori that I sometimes use for casual shoots and preserve bird shoots. I also have a CZ-USA Model 612 pump gun that is great, as well as a number of vintage A.H. Fox side-by-sides I grouse hunt with and use for side-by-side competition.
Tell us about your range bag and what you carry in it besides your firearms. My range bag is in dire need of updating. I plan on purchasing an Orvis Battenkill range bag very soon, which looks to be a great tool. As far as what I keep in my bag, it’s my shooting glasses, lens spray, ESP electronic ear protection, spare batteries for the ESPs, some painkillers (in case of a headache), spare pencils (I’ve handed them out to trappers in a pinch), a spare set of foam plugs or two and a bit of Velcro tape. The Velcro can come in handy when securing my bag on a shooting cart—I’ve seen a lot of bags tumble off carts on the sporting-clays course.
What do you do in your free time? My free time is spent working my hunting dog and ruffed grouse hunting in Michigan. I also shoot a lot of 5-Stand at my local club, the Ann Arbor Moose Sportsman’s League. We have an awesome set-up, with 11 traps and Long Range LLC remote trap releases. The club sets good, challenging targets and have a nice local following.
What would you tell someone interested in finding out more about your sport? I recommend that a new shooter latch onto a seasoned shotgunner who shoots sporting clays. I really love trap and skeet, but sporting-clays shooters are typically more well-rounded. A good sporting-clays shooter can usually adapt to the other disciplines fairly successfully. Besides ESP ear protection and Long Range LLC controllers, I really appreciate my SGS Performance shooting glasses. Frank Robertson of SGS takes very good care of me.