INTERVIEW WITH BARBARA MANDRELL

AIMING FOR HER DREAMS AND CLAY TARGETS

By Roni Toldanes

Barbara Mandrell enjoys smoking clay targets. Photo courtesy of Barbara Madrell

Barbara Mandrell enjoys smoking clay targets. Photo courtesy of Barbara Madrell

During the interview, Barbara Mandrell abruptly stopped talking, drew a coffee mug to her lips and peered through the glass panel of the receiving room. Her eyes focused on a woodpecker visiting one of the bird feeders scattered around her log home near Nashville.

Then Mandrell resumed her story.

“I am not speaking against hunters because there are many of them who are very nice,” she said, “but I am not really the hunter type. I just enjoy smoking those clay targets.”

Mandrell was referring to her favorite sports – Sporting Clays and Skeet – where shooters fire at clay discs using shotguns.

“The feeling is so elating and wonderful whenever I break the targets,” Mandrell said, her Colorado-blue eyes betraying her excitement. “It’s such an incredible challenge.”

Mandrell’s bird feeders reflect the dreams she has fulfilled over a legendary 35-year professional career and a personal life marked by stability, close family ties and abiding loyalties. If dreams are fulfilled through musical accomplishments or material success, Mandrell has surpassed most fantasies.

During the ’70s, Mandrell released 21 singles, including her all-time bestseller, “Sleeping Single in a Double Bed.” As the decade ended, Mandrell became the first artist ever to win back-to-back Female Vocalist of the Year awards from the Academy of Country Music.

Mandrell’s star continued to glow in the ’80s, a decade that twice saw her named Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Association. She also appeared on a weekly TV variety show with her younger sisters, Louise and Irlene. Nowadays, you can often see Mandrell doing TV commercials, with some guest appearances on popular TV shows.

Mandrell and her husband, Ken Dudney, were introduced to the shotgun sport several years ago by Hollywood legend Roy Rogers. Since then, the couple has actively participated in tournaments, including several fund-raising celebrity shoots organized by Mandrell’s sister Louise for the benefit of the Boy Scouts of America. Their oldest son, Matthew, is also active in the sport.

When Mandrell introduced her youngest son, Nathan, to Sporting Clays in 1996, she made sure that safety precautions are strictly observed. Nathan wasn’t allowed to handle guns without supervision from an adult shooter. For his 11th birthday, Nathan received his second shotgun, a 12-gauge Beretta 390, as a present from his parents.

“It brings joy when you see your young child act like a mature person because of his knowledge and safe handling of firearms,” said Mandrell, who shoots a Krieghoff shotgun.

For Barbara Mandrell, shooting is one of the best family recreation sports. “It’s fun. It’s exciting and it brings the family together,” she said. And unlike other male-dominate sports such as basketball and golf, shooting allows men to be on the same level of playing field as men. “There’s no reason women can’t beat men,” the petite 5-foot, 2-inch mother of three said.

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Photo courtesy of Barbara Mandrell

Mandrell and her family live in a 27,000-sq.ft. log home in Gallatin, Tennessee. The home includes a helipad, 13 bathrooms and an indoor pistol shooting range. It’s big enough to be called a mansion. But Mandrell said it’s up for sale. Reason? She wants a smaller house with a bigger lot to build a Skeet and Sporting clays range in the backyard, where her family can share the beauty and excitement of the shooting sports with relatives and friends.

Barbara Mandrell’s sights are set on fulfilling that dream.

And she’s ready to pull the trigger.

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