In the mid 1980â€™s, Don and Gwen Day were looking for an opportunity to diversify the third generation family farm. Don worked in Calgary for 10 years prior, and they wanted to find something where they could work at together while raising their family of three children on the Day farm. They had been raising pheasants for release on the north quarter during those years as well. At that time, they were avid trap shooters and competed all over Alberta, British Columbia, and Montana.
Don tried Sporting Clays, located west of Sundre, for the first time in 1987 and loved it. He cam back to his farm and the next week, he saw the possibility, and thought about how he could build his own course right there on the farm.
In 1988, they registered Silver Willow Pheasant Farm Ltd. and ordered manual machines all the way from England. They opened the first 10-station Sporting Clays Course, but for the first year, they operated without a clubhouse. As for a bit of history, the very spot were they decided to build the clubhouse was an area used to winter cattle for decades by Donâ€™s grandpa, Percy, and then by his dad, Buster. In 1990, the original 900 sq foot clubhouse was completed and ran on passive solar power. It was all done â€œoff the gridâ€ before Off the Grid became a term. This model building was designed and built by Michael Keerfoot from Cremona.
For six years, they operated the course with manual machines. All during those years, they raised 2,000 pheasants annually until 2008. With the increase in business, they purchased their firstÂ automatic machines, while slowly phasing out the manuals. Then in 1997 they hosted the World Police and Fire Games for their Sporting Clays event. The competitions continued to grow as the Alberta Sporting Clays Association developed and other courses opened. By 1998, a solar powered, fully automatic course of 14 stations was completed. During those years, they worked together with their children and Donâ€™s parents Bessie and Buster to run the many areas of the facilities.
In 2010, the Five-stand â€œDuck Pondâ€ was built to offer more shooting fun and another option to the full course. More additions happened in 2012 when a Wireless I-Pull throwing system was added for all 28 automatic machines. Also in 2012, Josh Day their son, joined the family business and came on as partner to help carry the business into the future.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â In the winter of 2013, the new facility called the Upland Cookhouse was built by Dreamwood Homes from Didsbury, Alberta. This past spring, the pro shop was expanded and branded as the, â€œDayÂ and Company Shotguns and Accessories Storeâ€. The new second course layout for Sporting Clays was designed. It will simply be called the Blue Course and feature 14 stations. The existing course was changed to the Green Course, and is now numbering 10 stations for intermediate targets and allows easy access to other shooters during busy competition days. The Shotgun Academy has been added this year with the arrival of Andrew Harvision, along with his expertise in shotgun shooting instruction, shotgun courses, and gun fitting.
Together they are excited about the future of Silver Willow and Day and Co., and the group hopes to build on their 25 years of experience hosting competition and private events by honoring their new vision statement of being, â€œCanadaâ€™s Premier Shotgun Sports Facilityâ€.