WINDSOR — Aiken County is truly a sportsman's paradise.


However, the importance of open space, land conservation and preservation make that possible.


Clays for Conservation, a fundraiser for the Aiken Land Conservancy, was held on Sunday morning at Carolina Star.


There were skeet and trapshooters of all levels participating in Sunday's event, said Katie Roth, Aiken Land Conservancy executive director.


“There's a great combination of people, some who are more advanced and will participate in the sportsman's challenge,” said Roth. “There are a lot of beginners who are getting more instruction.”


Carolina Star is familiar territory for ALC board member Nancy Henze and her husband Fritz Henze.


“We've had a lot of parties out here in the past,” said Nancy Henze. “When we were looking for a fundraising idea for the Aiken Land Conservancy that could build into an annual event, we began talking about this. Our biggest concern was the turnout. But once people pick up the gun and start shooting, they realize how much fun it is.”


The camaraderie between the participants serves as a catalyst to become involved, said Nancy Henze.


“I think it's hard to do on your own,” said Henze. “But the benefit of having instruction, the gun and ammo, it makes it easy for people who haven't done it before. And for those with experience, this is a great opportunity.”


Jane Ellenberg brought her Beretta sporting clays over-and-under shotgun, and although she's taken some time away from the sport, she had a great time.


“It's for a terrific cause, open land and this is what this is about, said Ellenberg.


Fritz Henze has been involved with the sport since childhood, having been taught to shoot by his grandfather.


“At home, we hunt bird, pheasant, quail and chukker,” said Fritz Henze. “We use sporting clays, trap and five stand here to practice. It's good practice and lots of fun.”


Ben Baugh has been covering the equine industry and equestrian sport for the Aiken Standard since 2004.