Olympic hopefuls compete at the Delta Resort in Desha County

More than 150 marksmen and markswomen from around the country converged on Southeast Arkansas to compete for four spots on the US Olympic Shooting Team at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials at the Delta Resort & Spa in Desha County.

The competition is the last stage of a two-stage qualification process for shotgun shooters for the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Women’s skeet shooter Kim Rhode, the first U.S. Olympian to win medals at five consecutive Olympic Games in an individual sport, secured her place on the team by outshooting her nearest competitor by 14 points. U.S. Army staff sergeant Josh Richmond secured a spot on the team by winning the men’s double trap competition. And, Frank Thompson earned a spot in men’s skeet shooting. The final competition is women’s trap shooting. The trials continue through Wednesday and the public is invited to visit the resort to watch the trials.

The 2,000-acre resort is located about six miles northeast of McGehee and boasts of a 130-room hotel, full service spa, bar and restaurant, and a 7,000 square-foot conference and event center, but the centerpiece of the Delta Resort experience is shooting sports and duck hunting.

The resort has a 100-acre ISSF-certified shooting sports complex with two 15-stand sporting clays courses, FITASC course, 5-stand course with a practice course, five Olympic bunker trap stations four skeet fields and 12 ATA trap fields. “We’re one of the top facilities so when you come here you’re shooting world class targets,” said Van Grafton, the resort’s media director.

The resort also has a world class shooting instructor, Dan Carlisle. Carlisle, an Olympic medalist, conducts clinics for youth as well as adults, according to Rick Hales, the resort’s general manager.

Located on the fertile hunting grounds of the Delta in the heart of the Mississippi Migratory Bird Flyway, the Delta Resort features some of the best duck hunting in the world. The resort offers duck hunting packages which include guided hunts, lodging and meals, transportation to and from the blinds, and duck processing. The resort’s pro shop sells ammunition, hunting apparel and accessories.

While shooting and duck hunting are the centerpiece of the resort, it has amenities that don’t require a gun or a hunting license.

The 43 Grill and Bar serves Delta cuisine and has a full bar. On Mother’s Day alone, the restaurant served 260 people, Hales said.

The facility is already available for weddings, but Cindy Smith, the resort’s public relations director, envisions a full-service outdoor wedding venue. With a full-service spa, restaurant, bar, 7,000 square-foot event center, 130-room hotel, and activities, everything one would need for a wedding is right there at one location.

The resort is off Highway 1 just outside McGehee.

“We have people flying in here from all over the country, yet there are a lot of people from right here in Southeast Arkansas that don’t realize the resort is here and what it has to offer,” Smith said.

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