The house that Jack built

The house that Jack built

Six men stand at the shooting range, one pointing a gun.

Shooters young and old enjoy some time on the range at Cardinal Shooting center near Marengo.

Over the past decade, it has steadily grown to become the largest privately owned recreational shooting facility in the country. The numbers alone are impressive: Fifty-two trapshooting fields sit side by side, stretching a full mile, alongside 14 skeet fields, 14 pistol and rifle ranges, two sporting clays ranges, and an archery range.

Owned by Jack Fishburn and his family, Cardinal Shooting Center — a member of Consolidated Electric Cooperative — is located on some 500 acres near Marengo. As large and successful as the facility has become, it almost didn’t happen.

“My wife, Karen, and I first purchased a run-down campground along Interstate 71, thinking we would make it into a nice, family-friendly campground,” Fishburn says. “But no sooner had we started that undertaking, than a few members from the Ohio State Trapshooting Association (OSTA) approached me about putting in trapshooting fields. I told them I wasn’t interested.”

But the OSTA folks were persistent, inviting Jack to attend a day at the annual Grand American, the largest competitive trapshoot in the country. “What I saw there really impressed me,” Fishburn says.

“There were thousands of shooters, some of them carrying shotguns worth $20,000 or more. These men and women would come off the shooting line, place their expensive guns in a rack, and just walk off and leave them while they went to eat lunch. They knew their guns would not be disturbed. That was the kind of clientele I wanted to attract.”

So in 2005, Fishburn went to work installing trapshooting fields and other amenities shooters might need. It was a hectic year, but they finished just in time for the 2006 summer shooting season.

Last summer, Cardinal Shooting Center hosted three of the six largest trapshooting events in the country, as well as the Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) and Scholastic Action Shooting Program (SASP) National Championships — with 3,000 young shooters, they’re the largest youth shooting competitions in America.

At age 83, Fishburn is planning an additional pistol range, a rifle range, plus three more skeet fields, and an additional sporting clays course. He’s also planning a second lodge.

Chip Gross is Ohio Cooperative Living’s outdoors editor. He can be reached at or through