Mark Taylor
Mike Gardner has had a love for shooting clay targets for more than a decade.
His brother introduced him to the sport, and he has been hooked ever since.
About 11 years ago, Gardner found a way to turn his hobby into a charity to benefit others.
Ever since then, Gardner and Johnnie Howe, both Gardner residents, have co-hosted their annual Adopt the Children Charity Clay Shoot.
This year’s event will take place from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 24 at Marais Des Cygnes Sporting Park, Ottawa.
All proceeds from the event go to the Gardner and Edgerton Mayors Christmas Tree funds,  Harvesters and the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office’s Cops and Bobbers program which hosts fishing derbies for children.
Gardner said he got the idea for the tournament several years ago after working for the county and participating in its Feed the Need fundraiser.
“In 1987-88, I was working at the county and we raised money for Feed the Need and the Adopt the Children Program for Christmas,” he said. “It got to the point where everything was going to Feed the Need, and I felt very strongly about the Adopt the Children program.”
Gardner the charity clay shoot continues to grow in popularity each year.
“I am hoping to have as many as 120 participants this year,” he said.  “As far as fund-raising, I would love to hit the $10,000 mark, but the way the economy is, if we hit $5,000 this year, we’d be good.  The best year we ever had was $8,500, and that was with 101 shooters.”
The tournament features trap shooting and sporting clay shooting.
The object of trap shooting is to break the most of 50 clay targets.
Sporting clay is a bit more challenging, with two targets launched at a time.
“It is golfing with a gun,” Gardner said. “It is safe because they only loaded gun at each station is the one the shooter is using, and it is going downrange from everybody. There are only two shells in the gun at any time. They reload every time we throw two targets. Sporting clays is a sporting presentation – two birds, two rabbits or one bird and one rabbit. You always get two targets. It may be on the report of the gun and you call for a target. When your gun goes off, they throw a second bird. It can be a true pair, both at the same time, or a following target.”
Gardner said registration starts at 9:30 a.m.  Participants must provide their own guns, ammunition, and ear protection.
“Shooters can register as soon as they walk through the door. At 3:30 p.m. I am the last shooter out. Then I come back in and we do trophy presentations. I participate, but I don’t take a trophy. I step aside and let someone else take it.”
The event will also feature prize drawings and a silent auction.
Food items will be available for a donation.
“It’s all about giving back to the community,” Gardner said.  “We’re providing food for a donation. We will have hamburgers and hotdogs. If they have a dollar, and that is all they’ve got, they are more than welcome. I have found a $20 bill, and I have found a $50 bill in the jar at the end of the day. There are some very generous people.”