It’s already become one of Lee County’s biggest draws, and this year’s Deep River Sporting Clays and Shooting School’s 18th annual Southern Side-by-Side Championship is expected to top all previous years in terms of participants and crowd size.

That’s according to Deep River owner and event coordinator Bill Kempffer, who says the combination of a growing list of vendors, 18 years of “word of mouth” and what’s expected to be perfect weather should all contribute to the success for the event that remains free for spectators.

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 10.06.41 AM“We’ve got new food vendors, new exhibitors and overall, just a really good line-up this year,” said Kempffer. “We’re expecting this to be the biggest one yet, to be honest.”

The 10-gauge, 24-gauge, 32-gauge and multi-gauge shooting competitions all began at 9 a.m. this morning and will continue through 5 p.m. today, Saturday and Sunday. Sunday culminates with an awards ceremony at 3:30 p.m. Each day will also feature more than 80 exhibitors featuring some of the world’s most renowned gun and rifle makers, outfitters, equipment vendors and other leaders in the industry.

Both vintage and modern side-by-sides will be used in the competition and will be available for purchase by spectators.


New this year (but already happened as a “pre-event” on Thursday) was the first muzzleloading competition, a sport also growing in popularity. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, think of Revolutionary or Civil War movies where soldiers armed their rifles or muskets through the muzzle — although much more modern these days. Here’s a video tutorial, for those wanting to learn more.

The Side-by-Side is sponsored each year by London gunmakers Atkin Grant & Lang and Shooting Sportsman Magazine. Again, the event is free to the public — learn more at or