Dorothea Clevenger: Switching from Rifle and Pistol to Sporting Clays

I met Dorothea Clevenger at the A Girl and A Gun national conference in Texas in 2017, and she was already a huge fan of Syren.  She has such a great personality and is an awesome advocate for the Syren brand.  I invited her to be on our ProStaff to represent Pennsylvania and northeast areas and she will be doing several demo events this year, as she received her Level 1 Sporting Clays instructor certification in 2017. We are thrilled to have her on the Syren team.

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I thought you’d like to learn more about this go-getter.

LG: How long did you compete in rifle/pistol competitions?

DC: I started seriously training in pistol shooting when my daughters got older. Once they were a bit more independent, I was able to take lessons … and I was at the range every day! My instructor encouraged me to try a local IDPA (International Defensive Pistol Association) match in 2011 and I was hooked from that day forward in competitive shooting. After competing for a while, I was asked to shoot for the Heritage Guild Shooting Team and was honored to shoot for them for 2 years, competing in about 15 to 20 matches per year.

Green-March-Dorothea Tactical shotgun

LG: What events did you compete in?

DC: I competed in local IDPA, USPSA (US Practical Shooting Association) and 3-Gun matches and also the IDPA PA State Championships. I was selected to shoot at IDPA World Championships on an AG&AG (A Girl & A Gun) squad in 2015. In addition, I competed at IDPA Indoor Nationals and IDPA BUG (Back up Gun) Nationals at Smith & Wesson in Springfield, Masssachusetts. I was also selected to shoot the Benelli Tactical Shotgun Championships at the Rock Castle Shooting Complex, in Kentucky. I also earned my IDPA Safety Officer certification and worked at matches whenever needed.

LG: Why did you decide to switch to shotgun events?

DC: It was actually a combination of a few things. Tactical shotgun is a lot of fun, but very different than clay shooting, and while I loved shooting in pistol, tactical rifle and shotgun, I was intrigued with Sporting Clays. I was very accurate with my pistol, but I struggled to hit these moving orange clays with my shotgun! The other reason was my knees. I had injured one of them during the World Championships and then I couldn’t do the “low-ready” in the tactical events. I then messed up the other one overcompensating for the first one.

My friend, Robin Wright, was already into Sporting Clays and I begged her to take me to shoot. I also knew I needed to adapt to a new sport that didn’t require me to be so hard on my knees. I had one surgery but it didn’t work, and after 18 months of therapy, ended up having total knee replacement surgery on both knees in the summer 2017… at the same time! Was tough but totally worth it.

Green-March-Dorthea left-Robin right

L-R Dorthea, Aaron Hayes and Robin Wright

LG: What were some of the hurdles that you encountered in your switch?

DC: Not looking at the front sight for sure. In my pistol/rifle shooting, I relied on that front sight to tell me where to be.  At the beginning, when shooting Sporting Clays, I would look at the relationship between the muzzle and the bird constantly until I learned to trust my eyes and my gun. When I began buying into the trust part of Sporting Clays (look at the bird) and learning to NOT look at that front site, I began to improve and fell in love with sport.

Green-March-Robinleft Dorothea right Sporting Clays

Robin and Dorthea

LG: Did you seek out some instruction to ease the transition?

DC: Yes, I shot for a little while, and then knew I needed someone to tell me what I was doing wrong. I didn’t want to develop any bad habits and I wanted to shorten my learning curve. Robin Wright took me to some lessons and she highly recommended Randy Dotter at Lehigh Valley Sporting Clay in Coplay, Pennsylvania. I began taking lessons and started to see improvements right away. And my Sporting Clays bonus is that we hit it off and later started dating.  We’ve been dating for 2 years this March.

Syren tempio sporting model

LG: Outline your progress and how long it took to feel like you were proficient with shotgun?

DC: I shot my Benelli at first, but it was set up for my 3-Gun shooting, and was long and cumbersome. I started feeling better when I began lessons, but because my gun was not set up for moving targets that needed more movement and flexibility, I began looking for a shotgun that would meet my needs. I tried and purchased the Syren Tempio Sporting 12 gauge with a 30-inch barrel, and honestly, that is when I started to see a huge difference in my scores and confidence. It’s true when they say get a gun that fits.

LG: What gear did you need to purchase in addition to the gun?

DC: I purchased my Syren Tempio and I won a vest at a charity shoot. Hi Def Specs (shooting glasses) helped to make the targets appear clearer with the different colored lenses.  Molded ear protection work best since my pistol earmuffs got in the way of the stock. I later purchased a Syren vest & shell pouch. I loved Sporting Clays so much, I even invested in a golf cart to take to shoots!

Living in Pennsylvania, we shoot all winter long and I have to wear layers when I shoot in the cold months, so I bought a heated vest and heated hand muffs … and everyone laughed … but of course asked to borrow them when it got really cold.

Green-March-Dorothea shooting Syren Sporting Clays

LG: What are your recommendations for ladies wanting to switch to Sporting Clays, or just include it in their shooting?

DC: Fit is extremely important. The Syren shotgun is specifically designed for ladies and was the perfect answer for me. I give it the highest recommendation. Try one out! If you’re going to shoot competitively, make sure it is custom fit to you. Invest in good, molded-ear protection. Good eye protection is also important so you can see a clear target presentation.  And don’t forget if you live in the colder states, layers in the winter.

LG: What’s your best advice to ladies trying to get started?

DC: Find a friend (or a Robin) and just go! It is important to be gentle with yourself and put the time and practice into becoming better. Find a Certified Sporting Clay instructor and take lessons to be sure you learn the basics correctly. See as many clay presentations as you can by going to different courses. Sporting Clay shooters are friendly and welcome newbies. Introduce yourself and have fun! I love traveling to different courses and seeing different presentations based on the local geography and I love the challenge of Sporting Clays. A few links to find where the shoots are: www.winscoreonline.com; www.scoringpro.com, www.nssa-nsca.org and www.iclays.com.

For the perfect shotgun for sporting clays visit Syren here.

  • About Lynne Green

    Prior to becoming the Brand Manager for Syren, Lynne Green served as the Executive Director of Atlanta Charity Clays, disbursing more than $300,000 to local area children’s charities in 2016, bringing their total to over $4.3 million in 26 years. Most of her career has been spent as an IT Infrastructure Project Manager working on multi-million dollar projects such as merger/acquisitions, data center migrations, desktop deployments and outsourcing conversions for several Fortune 500 companies.


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