Pat Lieske grew up in Davison, Michigan, a small town just east of Flint. As a youngster, he loved to fish and hunt with his parents and two brothers. Lieske got his first taste of clay target shooting as a teenager, when he attended a hunter’s safety class at the local range. Returning to the clubhouse after trying a few targets, he noticed a flyer on the wall for a skeet shooting league – and signed up to participate. He shot skeet through high school, even delving briefly into the registered skeet world, while also working as a trapper at that same club. His shooting stopped abruptly though when he enrolled in college, pursuing a Bachelors of Business and Finance at the University of Michigan. Seven years went by before he picked up a shotgun again – a hiatus that ended with a life changing phone call in 1989 when an old friend invited him to shoot a “new game” called sporting clays. It is interesting to speculate what his life course would have been, had he not had that call.
Upon graduation, Lieske put his college degree to work by taking a job at a local CPA firm–a position that lasted five years. His wife Karen was pregnant with their first child when they came to another crossroads and made a huge life decision. “My wife quit her job to be a full time Mom, and I quit my job to be a full time shooting instructor,” he said. He worked a while at a small private hunt club as shooting instructor and sporting clays coordinator, using heavy equipment to expand and make improvements to the course while steadily building a reputation as an instructor.
A stint as a freelance-shooting instructor followed, after leaving the employ of the hunt club to strike out on his own. Growing weary of all the traveling required as an instructor without a home base, in 2001, Lieske took over the shotgun ranges at Island Lake Shooting Range in Brighton, Michigan, when the State Department of Natural Resources sought a new concessionaire. With the DNR’s confidence in him quickly established, Lieske soon also took over the rifle and pistol facilities.
In 2009 his contract was up for renewal. He bid on and was awarded a 20 year contract that also included another state owned facility – Bald Mountain Shooting Range in Lake Orion – a one hour drive from Island Lake.
Since 2009, Lieske has built the two ranges, collectively called Michigan Shooting Centers, into Michigan’s pre-eminent shooting sports destinations. The entire Lieske family – wife Karen, sons Drew and Gage and even Pat’s mother – can, from time to time, be seen pitching in at the two facilities.