MIDLAND Dean Kelly was one of many clay shooters who was glad to be out to help a good cause.
On Thursday morning, the longtime clay shooter was out at the Midland Shooters Association (MSA) Shooting Range, 7400 W. Country Road 170 in Midland, where the West Texas Food Bank’s inaugural Aim to End Hunger Shoot took place.
The event was put on with the support of ConocoPhillips and the MSA.
“It was a great time,” Kelly said. “It’s a lot better than having to work. It’s nice weather and it’s for a good cause.”
Kelly has been clay shooting for about 47 years now.
“I just like getting out and getting away from the town to shoot and everything. It’s nice. The earplugs help too. … This is a nice place to come to shoot. The people are all very nice.”
There were close to about 130 total clay shooters out Thursday, all split up into teams of six.
The event started early in the day and continued throughout the morning before the temperatures got too hot.
“It was a morning shoot,” West Texas Food Bank Communications Director Craig Stoker said. “We had everyone sign up. I think we had a bunch of shooters signed up which was good because we didn’t quite know what to expect. The fact that anybody showed up was great.”
Officials were also excited about the partnership with ConocoPhillips, which recently acquired Concho Resources.
“We’re happy to have ConocoPhillips on board to help underwrite this because it guarantees that we make a little bit of money,” Stoker said. “They were a great partner as Concho. It’s great for them to support local nonprofits. We’re just happy to have anybody to show up and a nice warm morning.”
West Texas Food Bank Executive Director Libby Campbell echoed those thoughts.
“We’re so excited to continue our relationship with Concho and now that Conoco has come in and become the new Concho, we’re happy to see that they’ve continued to support us. They stepped up this year and helped kick this off and hopefully we can watch it grow over the years.”
Teams were given a round of sporting clays and all proceeds benefited the West Texas Food Bank.
There were 30 different stations.
Sponsorships were available for at least one team.
Some of those team members were out there on behalf of ConocoPhillips including Dallas Daley.
“We brought some of our engineers here to have a good time and to help support the West Texas Food Bank,” Daley said.
Daley says he’s been clay shooting for about a decade now but said that some of his other teammates did pretty well with even less experience.
“I’ve been doing it for 10 years but we have some guys who are out here for the first time today,” Daley said. “They’ve done pretty well. They’re hitting six for six. … We started out pretty slow but we’re starting to pick up the pace.”
Jacob Nash was another person who came out on Thursday to the benefit.
“I shot probably five or six years ago,” Nash said. “This is my first full round though.”
Nathan Sanchez enjoyed his first time clay shooting.
“It’s really fun,” Sanchez said. “I’m getting better.”
Stoker said that the West Texas Food Bank had been wanting to do this event for awhile but that it kept getting pushed back.
“We’re not quite fully back and some of our corporate sponsors can’t be out doing things but we’re still happy with the turnout,” Stoker said. “We got most of the weight of the goal which was lofty to begin with but we’re happy with the support and we’re happy to have something to do that’s different.”
That goal was around $50,000 but the West Texas Food Bank exceeded those expectations by raising $53,000 which equals 212,000 meals.
The West Texas Food Bank has been gradually getting back to having more events like it did before the pandemic.
Last week, the West Texas Food Bank had its Kids Farmers Market which was sponsored by H-E-B.
“We’re so excited,” Campbell said. “It feels like we’re getting back into the normal things that we used to do (before the pandemic). Last week, we had our children’s farmers market in Odessa and had about close to 2,000 kiddos come out and pick up free produce and learn about healthy eating. Of course, over the past year with COVID, we have ceased all those activities and have been concerned with feeding our community in a crisis that has never before been seen.
“We did a great job with that and we’re still doing a good job of that. We are still continuing doing a wonderful job of that. We were at 6.4 million pounds with COVID and this year, we’re on track to do 13 million pounds of food in the 19 counties that we serve. Having events again not only helps us get back in the community but it also helps us to continue to fund the operations that we have been tasked with throughout COVID. We still have a high amount of need. But it’s a lot of fun to have people come out and support our cause.”