Feature Articlel: Oak Tree Day

Oak Tree Day at the Range brings together industry friends and business associates

By Ron Ballanti /Special to Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Apr 20, 2018

Next Up, The Oak Tree Summer Blast
April 28-29

NEWHALL — “This sure beats another rubber chicken dinner or golf tournament,” remarked Tim Manaka, Jr. as he addressed about 40 friends, business associates and members of the outdoor industry gathered in the Oak Tree Gun Club’s cozy clubhouse/restaurant.

KEY SHOOTING INDUSTRY players recently converged at Oak Tree Gun Club.

Many in the room nodded knowingly, having endured numerous stodgy industry “events.” As president of FIA Insurance Services, which specializes in insurance and risk management for the fishing, shooting and outdoor trade, Manaka knows very well that the best, longest lasting business and personal relationships are forged around fun. The crowd for this second annual event included employees, business associates and friends, all sharing an affinity for outdoor sports. Holding it here was a natural choice, as Oak Tree has long been an FIA client and the two companies have built not just professional relationships, but personal friendships based on mutual respect and a shared love of shooting and the outdoors.

Personally, this event was an ideal chance to mix business with pleasure. For about a year, I’ve been working with Dickinson Arms, a shotgun manufacturer based in Moorpark, California offering an astounding variety of sporting guns, field guns and tactical models. Along the way, I learned that for some time, Oak Tree had been using Dickinson’s pump and semi-automatic models as rental range guns — and after seeing how well they shot and held up in challenging conditions, converted much of its fleet to the brand. I had been looking for a way to promote this fact; so when Tim invited me, a light bulb went off. To sweeten the deal, Tim was kind enough to invite David Thiele and Kristian Valenzuela from Dickinson Arms, who brought along some additional shotgun models for guests to try out.

After a continental breakfast and safety talk from the experts at Oak Tree Gun Club, we split up into small groups and were driven up to Oak Tree’s Sporting Clays course. If you’ve never shot sporting clays here, you really should. Many visitors here never venture into this portion of the facility’s 100-acre property, with its oak-studded hills and steep canyons. With 14 different stations spread out over almost a mile, this activity combines elements of shooting and hiking. The scenery is great, the shooting is varied and exciting, and even on crowded weekends you may find yourself all alone. Targets fly from every direction and each station presents a different challenge for even the most avid shooters.

Each small group had its own “guide” and Oak Tree provided Dickinson 212 semi-automatic shotguns for those who hadn’t brought their own. In addition, the Dickinson Arms team brought along a couple of new Impala Plus semi-automatics, which shooters used to blast clays at a couple different stations. Others, myself included, used the opportunity to try out one of the company’s beautiful Estate Series side-by-sides, which was a treat to shoot.

As one would expect for an event of this type, shooting experience ranged widely from guest to guest. Some hit most of the clays that flew, some missed most, and others were happy to hit even one. What really matters, however, is that everybody had a good time. Even better, we returned to the clubhouse to find a home-cooked luncheon that was definitely not “hit or miss.” Tim and his FAI team laid out a BBQ tri-tip feast for the whole gang, including an array of tasty sides prepared by his lovely wife Akiko.

For me, all this was a great lead-in to the 2018 Summer Blast shooting event coming to Oak Tree on April 28-29. This unique event provides a great opportunity for shooting sports enthusiasts to meet representatives from all the top manufacturers, and demo a wide variety of shotguns, rifles, handguns and archery equipment in this world-class facility. The folks from Dickinson Arms will be among the many experts on site, displaying their wares and helping shooting and hunting enthusiasts test different models. Entry and parking will be free for this special event. There will be a huge parking lot sale, discount memberships and renewals, and a barbecue.

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