VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher, center, presents a ceremonial check representing the seed capital matching grant recently approved for Dickenson Shooting Sports to Mike Yates, owner. At right is Mitzi Sykes, Dickenson County economic development director.

CLINTWOOD, VA — (JANUARY 31, 2020) – Mike Yates grew up with a shotgun and a rifle, hunting and participating in shooting matches when he was in high school. That love of the sport of shooting is what prompted him to open Dickenson Shooting Sports in Clintwood. The business is a recent recipient of a $10,000 seed capital grant from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA).

“Shooting is big business,” Yates said of the sport.

The first public event planned at the new venue — located on approximately two acres of property near Clintwood and Pound at 358 Ticky George Hollow in Clintwood — will be a sporting clay event on February 8 which is set up as a fundraiser for the Dickenson County Food Bank.

“Outdoor recreation and the jobs it creates is an area VCEDA has delved into in recent years,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel. “The burgeoning tourism economy in Southwest Virginia is an area we are continuing to see job growth in and the seed capital matching grant program has helped to provide funding for a number of new tourism-related small businesses aimed at providing activities for visitors to the region and those who reside here, while at the same time creating jobs.”

Yates said plans call for Dickenson Shooting Sports to host four shooting matches a year and at other times and as the business grows. The business features five covered stands and offers sporting clays, flurry and skeet shooting. Participants bring their own 12-gauge or 20-gauge shotguns for the events. Safety, Yates said, will be paramount. He stressed safety is a value at Dickenson Shooting Sports — not just a goal.

The February 8 event will begin with registration from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Orientation and a safety meeting will be held at 11 a.m. The event will begin at noon.

Dickenson Shooting Sports is open to individuals from all skill levels – beginner to expert.

“From the guest who has never held a gun before, to the tournament shooter who shoots thousands of shells a year, we welcome all of them,” Yates said.

The venue will be available to host corporate team building and charity fundraisers. The range may also be reserved and rented for special events.

In the future, Yates hopes to open a pro shop to provide retail sales.

One full-time job is projected in the application.

“The VCEDA grant helped us to purchase the equipment we needed and to gravel the lot,” Yates said. “I’ve been in shooting sports since I was a child and later, while I was in the Marine Corps. The VCEDA grant has helped us to create a great opportunity for others to enjoy shooting sports too.”

Yates worked with Tim Blankenbecler, director of the Small Business Development Center at Mountain Empire Community College, in developing his application to VCEDA. The Dickenson County Industrial Development Authority also provided a letter of support for the seed capital grant application. Yates also acknowledged help he received from Spearhead Trails.

Yates noted Dickenson Shooting Sports is currently open by appointment by calling 276.220.8395. Additional information may also be found by visiting the business Facebook page. A website is under development.

About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and Southwest Virginia’s e-Region: The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1988 to enhance and diversify the region’s economy and help create jobs, markets Southwest Virginia’s e-Region and its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education, emerging technologies, and entrepreneurship. VCEDA is a unique economic development organization that manages funds for economic development projects from a percentage of the coal and natural gas severance taxes paid by coal and natural gas companies that operate in the region. Located in southwestern Virginia, the region includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton.  or

About the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Seed Capital Matching Grant Fund: VCEDA region for-profit businesses one year and under with less than 10 full-time employees are eligible to apply for dollar-for-dollar matching grants up to $10,000 from the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund. Applicants work with the Small Business Development Centers at Mountain Empire and Southwest Virginia community colleges to prepare the applications to VCEDA that include detailed business and financial plans. Businesses must be located in or plan to operate in the VCEDA.