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Working in clays

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Rice Creek’s sporting clays course again the perfect backdrop for Brainerd Lakes Chamber event

LITTLE FALLS — As always, the Sporting Clays Summer Fling ended with a flurry.

For Stephanie Veith and the team of Clifton, Larson, Allen LLP, that didn’t necessarily translate to success.

But ultimately, it didn’t hurt, either.

“We were being conservative with our shells,” Veith said with a laugh after the team hit 29 of 40 targets in the Flurry Shoot — the free-for-all Summer Fling finale.

With more than half of the 15 teams having completed the flurry, that was good for last place at the time. But for Veith and Team Clifton, Larson, Allen — and every other team, actually — there were no losers at the fifth annual networking and sporting clays event Tuesday afternoon at Rice Creek Hunting and Recreation near Little Falls.

Fifteen four-person teams from businesses and companies — Brainerd Lakes Chamber members — participated in the event, meant to bring business types together for a day of networking and socializing. And, to a differing degree, sporting clays.

Many of the participants had been here before, or had some sporting clays experience. Veith, a senior accountant at Clifton, Larson, Allen, hunts grouse but had never shot sporting clays until last year’s Fling. She said she fared better last year, although she earned the award of top female shooter this year.

Six women originally were entered, but an all-women’s team dropped out due to the possibility of inclement weather Tuesday — the rain held off just long enough to get the event in — as did a men’s team.

“Mostly networking,” Veith said of the draw of the event. “I love coming. I’m at the level where I’m a low- to medium-level ... A new networker.

“I probably would do it more (shoot sporting clays), but I’m busy. And networking is the main (draw).”

Faith Palmer can relate — she is a community relations specialist for the United Way of Crow Wing and Cass counties and is a full-time student at St. Scholastica, on the Central Lakes College campus in Brainerd, pursuing a bachelor’s in management with a minor in marketing.

“I got a day off to play,” said Palmer, who turned out to be the only other woman in the field. “I signed up by myself and got teamed up (with Lakes Printing).

“It doesn’t matter,” she said of the lack of women in the field this year — the event had been growing in the number of female participants in recent years. “But I wish more would get involved. It’s fun. They’re missing out.”

Palmer was participating in the event for the first time. She moved from Alaska to the Brainerd area — she has family here — about two years ago. She said she was equally drawn by the chance to shoot and to network.

“I love to shoot. I’ve been shooting since I was 8,” she said.

Jonathan Lemieur of Mid-Minnesota Federal Credit Union was the top male shooter and Weizenegger-Engel Insurance was the top team and also won the Flurry Shoot, where instead of team members shooting one at a time, as they do at each station on the sporting clays course, all four cut loose at the same time on 40 clays, released one after another, atop the shooting platform at Rice Creek.

Other businesses/companies represented were Weichert Realtors-Tower Properties; Gander Mountain; Morey’s Seafood Market; SCR-Northern; Cuyuna Regional Medical Center; Westwood Professional Services, Inc.; Brainerd Area Sertoma Club; Anderson Brothers Construction; Deerwood Bank; Timbermist/The Chap; and Nor-son, Inc.

The Flurry Shoot was sponsored by Hunting Works for Minnesota, Lakes Printing sponsored the warmup station, Deerwood Bank was the Fling’s major sponsor, Morey’s provided lunch, Gander Mountain provided the top prize for the drawing — a .12-gauge shotgun, Rice Creek hosted the event and also provided prizes — two 10-bird pheasant hunts — and even HealthSource Chiropractic and Progressive Rehab of Baxter got in on the networking act, with massage chairs in the main tent and at the first shooting station.

Palmer took advantage of that in the tent after the Flurry Shoot.

“I enjoyed it,” Palmer said of the Fling. “I did fair. I hadn’t shot in a while. It was fun. I got to meet people. It’s a great event.”

BRIAN S. PETERSON, outdoors editor, may be reached at or 855-5864. To follow him on Twitter, go to For his blogs, go to