Mike Mezzrah, owner of Tampa Bay Sporting Clays and Archery, on Ehren Cutoff in Land O’ Lakes, navigated his golf cart along the dusky trail to the competition area.
“We get a lot of charity benefits here,” he said, citing some recent ones attended by former Pasco County Sheriff Bob White and current Sheriff Chris Nocco.
Mezzrah hit the brakes and stopped the golf cart at an approaching hole, just like a golf course. Everyone remained still as a shooter was anticipating the path of the target.
The whisking sound of solar-powered mechanical launchers sent brightly colored clay pigeons skyward.
“They’re going to do well today,” Mezzrah said about the turnout of folks to raise money for a good cause.
As Mezzrah rolled the cart to the next hole, a little girl sat in the tail seat of another golf cart with her fingers in her ears.
Hadley Hart, 9, of New Port Richey, did not look too enthusiastic about all the noise. However, she looked on.
Standing at the firing line was her brother, 12-year-old Hunter Hart.
As he trained his single-barrel shotgun on the clay pigeon’s path, his shooting partner, Cole Wells, 12, of Palm Harbor, stood behind him and watched his buddy approvingly.
With a bead on the flying disc, Hunter pulled the trigger.
In a puff of smoke, the red shell casing ejected from the chamber. In a millisecond, Hunter hit his target and the buckshot pulverized the flying disc.
Paul Friedlander, candidate for Honorary Governor of West Pasco, chose the organization as part of the contest criteria. He is running in the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce fundraising mock election against Tina Farrell, who chose the Good Samaritan Health Clinic of Pasco as her charity.
As the tall woods chattered with gunfire, the Paul Putting Pasco Kids First Clay Shoot was on.
It was just one of Friedlander’s projects.
Overall, including the raffles and other benefit events, Friedlander said he hoped to raise some $20,000 for the charity and the Chamber of Commerce.
Friedlander chose to help Pasco Kids First because of the organization’s mission, assisting in the protection of Pasco County children from the devastating effects of child abuse.
Pasco Kids First, in partnership with other community agencies, provides thorough, accurate assessments and services to children and their families by utilizing a multidisciplinary approach.
Through community education and early intervention, the organization promotes a healthy and nurturing family environment for all our children, according to the organization’s website.
For the afternoon event, Mezzrah said, the shooters were provided with 50 targets, ammo, golf cart, gun rental, water, ear protection, dinner, and bragging rights. Pasco County Mosquito Control Board member Gary “Buck” Joiner provided dinner during awards ceremony. First- and second-place teams took home prizes.