Eye on Orvis–Orvis Sandanona General Manager, Andrew Johnson

Written by: Laurie Barrett

Welcome to “Eye on Orvis,” where each month we showcase the people, teams, and culture that are the heart of Orvis. For March, we introduce you to Andrew Johnson, General Manager of Orvis Sandanona Shooting Grounds.

In the town of Millbrook, New York, nestled in the picturesque Hudson River Valley, lies a testament to tradition known as the Orvis Sandanona Shooting Grounds – the oldest permitted shooting preserve in the United States. Spanning 400 acres of bucolic landscape, these historic grounds have evolved under the stewardship of Andrew Johnson, the passionate General Manager dedicated to preserving its rich heritage.

Andrew’s journey to Orvis was marked by the early loss of his father, a void filled by unwavering support from aunts and uncles. Guided by their wisdom, he discovered an unexpected passion for hunting, a pursuit that would shape his career and lead him to Sandanona. Andrew’s educational path traversed the corridors of the local community college, culminating in a degree in criminal justice, and an initial dream of becoming a police officer. The abrupt funding cut for the police academy class redirected Andrew’s trajectory, leading him to an unexpected opportunity at Sandanona. Hired as a trapper/guide, he immersed himself in the sprawling property, forging a deep connection with the grounds.

Sixteen years later, having worked as the Sporting Clays Coordinator, Manager of the Sandanona Sporting Clays, and then Manager of all three Orvis sporting-clays facilities, Andrew now stands as the General Manager of Sandanona, a role he embraces with fervor. For him, being part of the Orvis family is more than a job; it’s about ownership, contributing to a legacy, and ensuring every guest experiences the unparalleled Orvis journey.

Orvis Sandanona is open to the public 362 days a year. Andrew speaks with passion as he outlines the opportunities available to members and guests: two distinctive sporting clays courses, a Five Stand, a Wobble Trap, a thriving retail space, and any number of monthly shooting events. A regular schedule of Orvis Wingshooting Schools is available by reservation, as are private lessons with Sandanona’s faculty of recognized instructors, including Paula Moore, the only Level 3 National Sporting Clays Association Shooting Instructor in the state of New York. Non-shooters, or those taking a break from the day afield, can unwind on the wrap-around porch, or enjoy a meal in the clubhouse dining room. The surrounding croplands, wooded bottoms, and a duck swamp are the setting for Sandanona’s guided field hunts, which are available with Upland Membership.

Andrew will tell you the that entire team focuses on creating the ultimate experience for every customer, every time. He takes pride in his team’s commitment to crafting a magical experience, and speaks enthusiastically about the immersive atmosphere at Sandanona, where excellence is not just a standard but a commitment to the Orvis core value of “surprise and delight your customer.” He also takes great pride in his own numerous accomplishments, with a special emphasis on the creation of the new Upland course at Sandanona. This additional course provides more options for shooters, including “more sky,” which affords better target presentations with the release of higher, faster, and farther targets. It’s been a team effort, and Andrew feels a deep sense of accomplishment and pride for being an integral part of it. Describing the whole operation as a “family” effort, as the General Manager he works to cultivate and preserve that familial atmosphere.

Andrew’s alignment with the Orvis culture of “proud to give” is evident not only in his professional life, but also in his personal relationships. Known for his generosity, he extends his giving nature to family and friends. Despite his numerous achievements and dedication to his career, Andrew’s true devotion lies with his beautiful wife and three children. He reflects on the swift passage of time, acknowledging the reality that “They ain’t kiddin’ when they say they grow up fast,” emphasizing the importance of cherishing moments with loved ones. This translates to the advice he would give any future Orvis team member: ”Don’t sweat the small stuff, and most of the stuff is pretty small. Sometimes you need to just pause and live in the moment.”

Beyond the shooting grounds and his family, Andrew harbors a passion for high-end audio equipment, embodying a love for precision and detail. His home theater setup, featuring Bowers and Wilkins speakers, an Arcam Receiver, and an SVS subwoofer, is a testament to his pursuit of perfect sound. Andrew acknowledges the parallel between the evolving world of audio technology and his dedication to refining the Sandanona experience.

In both worlds, Andrew’s pursuit of excellence is evident. Whether it’s orchestrating the harmonious notes of a favorite tune or crafting the ultimate Sandanona encounter, his commitment to precision resonates with those who visit Orvis Sandanona. Customers return repeatedly, drawn by the signature elegance, style, and exquisite service cultivated by Andrew and his dedicated team—a legacy within the broader Orvis tradition that continues to flourish under his leadership.

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