Bonds forged, reinforced at Southern Side by Side
When Bill and Mary Kempffer debuted the Southern Side by Side Championship and Exhibition Spring Classic in 2000, 65 shooting competitors and 11 exhibitors turned out.
This weekend at Deep River Sporting Clays and Shooting School, about 10 times the shooters will be there.
The Southern Side by Side, with the “side by side” being classic double-barrel, side-by-side shotguns most associated with, historically and presently, quail and duck hunting ranging from North Carolina to Britain and continental Europe, has grown into a national and international event. It’s also grown into great friendships renewed each spring.
“Exactly, it’s become a big family reunion, except without the fist fights,” said Bill Kempffer, who with his wife, celebrated Deep River Sporting Clays and Shooting School’s 25th birthday in January. The 15th Annual Southern Side by Side Championship and Exhibition Spring Classic opens Friday.
Even visitors with little interest in who wins trophies during the many events can partake in “a visual feast” of firearms, history and culture.
“You’d have to go to all the capitals of Europe to see what will be here in Sanford in three tents,” Mary said. “So it’s just a visual feast. Plus, there’s the opportunity to talk with all the people who will be here.”
“For us,” Bill said, “it’s a promotion of what we love so dearly. It’s a celebration of the tradition of wingshooting.”
Last April’s event drew a record attendance of 2,480. With a nice weather forecast, free admission and a full schedule Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the Kempffers hope the record lasts only a year.
Gates open at 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and at 8 a.m. for a worship service at the Pavilion Sunday morning.
Competition categories range from novice to expert and throughout gauge sizes.
“If you do shoot,” Mary said, “we have competitions in every gauge and you can find a competition to fit with the gun you have.”
The 11th Annual Parker Brothers/L.C. Smith Challenge Cup will be contested for Friday and Saturday. The Parker Gun Collectors Association and the L.C. Smith Collectors Association have a rivalry, along with camaraderie.
Proceeds from the Challenge Cup have been donated to promoting youth shooting sports, tornado relief in Lee County, Habitat for Humanity and other organizations in recent years.
The big event Sunday, and for the weekend, is the Atkin, Grant and Lang Southern Side by Side Championship Main Event from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. The Ripon Cup Awards Ceremony is set for 3:30 p.m. Sunday.
The Shooting Sportsman Magazine Have-A-Go Stand will be open, for those perusing the many exhibitors and, no matter the experience level, want to “have a go.”
Spectators wanting to go on the course must have ear and eye protection. Deep River Sporting Clays and Shooting School is located in the northern part of the county at 284 Cletus Hall Road.
Along with having Old World history, the side by side has Southern heritage, too. Along with lots of family-friendly events and a discounted sign-up fee for competitors 17 or younger, Saturday evening will include a pig pickin’ banquet and bluegrass music provided by Alice Zicone and Haywire.
WANT TO GO?
WHAT: Southern Side by Side Championship and Exhibition Spring Classic
WHERE: Deep River Sporting Clays and Shooting School, 284 Cletus Hall Road, Sanford
WHEN: Gates open at 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and at 8 a.m. for a worship service at the Pavilion Sunday morning
FOR MORE INFORMATION: http://www.southernsidebyside.com, or call Deep River Sporting Clays at (919) 774-7080.