Lola’s List: Mama’s got a gun (5 things skeet shooting taught me about life)

07/01/2012

I have no interest in running a marathon. Nor do I want to climb Mt. Everest or indulge in other common “Bucket List” aspirations. Naw, My List consists of simple, everyday stuff. For example, years ago we lived near a skeet and trap range, where folks attempt to shoot clay disks flung into the air at high speed from a variety of angles. For years I’d drive by the range, see folks shooting away and wonder what all the hype was about. They’re just a bunch of trigger-happy good ol’ boys, I thought. But still, I was curious. This weekend, The Mister and I braved the heat wave to see first-hand what this was all about.

We were required to attend a gun safety class prior to hitting the range. As I looked around the room, I didn’t see the expected ‘good ol’ boys’ but folks of all colors, ages, moms, dads and even some kids. I’ve never shot more than a BB gun, so needless to say I was pretty nervous. While explaining how to properly load and mount a 12-gauge double barrel shot gun, the instructor stressed the importance of following their safety precautions so as to avoid “gaping chest wounds.” Throughout the safety class “gaping chest wounds” was mentioned at least three more times. At the end of the class the instructor asked if anyone was nervous. Uh, yes, much.

12 gauge ammunition

The “house” from which the targets are launched

12 gauge double barrel, semi-automatic shot guns.

Me, eyes properly protected but worrying about “gaping chest wounds”

Ear plugs are a must, or you’ll be “answering the phone.”

Me, loading the barrel (still getting used to my short cut).

Hamilton, our instructor, was very patient as he gingerly coached us through loading the shells and mounting the gun.

“Say ‘pull’ when you’re ready,” Hamilton almost whispered.

“Pull,” I said cautiously when it was my turn.

The neon orange disk whizzed into the air at 40 mph. POW! I was not prepared for the gun’s recoil when I pulled the trigger. It’s total bull$h*t in the movies when someone fires a shotgun while barely batting an eyelash. No, ma’am. The kick from the fire sent the butt of the gun straight into my upper shoulder. It hurt like hell and left a pretty good-sized bruise. I rubbed my shoulder, cracked the gun open, and the shells jumped out with a life of their own. Gun smoke filled my lungs as I re-loaded more confidently, relieved that I had not caused any “gaping chest wounds.” Hamilton showed me how to adjust my stance so that the momentum from the blast was directed outward and not towards my body.

Small scrap of a hit target.

With fear now behind me, I could actually focus on hitting the target. After shooting 15 rounds, my arms and shoulders were so effing tired and I was so hot and thirsty that keeping a good stance was next to impossible. I managed to only hit the target 4 times out of 25 rounds, but the feeling of hitting it dead-on and watching it smash into a thousand pieces? Nothing like it. The Mister was a natural and fared much better, absolutely destroying the target all but 3 times. I cheered him on while pushing flashbacks of golf from my mind. He was so stoked that after class he spoke with Hamilton about getting The Baby Kittens out on the range.

The Mister and Hamilton.

Hamilton, whose college team are the national trap and shoot champs said, “We keep smaller sized rifles on hand for the kids. As long as they can hold it up comfortably they’ll be okay. Bring ‘em out next week sometime and I’ll work with them.” Not sure how I feel about that, but we’ll see. Despite my lackluster performance, I had a blast, pun intended, and will def be back. Reflecting on the advice and encouragement Hamilton gave at the range, I marvel at how much these gems apply to life in general, and going after one’s dreams, both big and small:

  1. Timing is everything. If you shoot too early or wait too long to shoot, you will miss your window of opportunity.
  2. It’s all about the target. Don’t think about the gun. Focus on the target and your gun will naturally follow course.
  3. Before you pull the trigger, know in your heart of hearts that you will hit the target. It’s just a matter of how hard you will smash it to smithereens.
  4. Even if you manage to shoot off only a small piece of the target, that’s better than missing it completely.
  5. Above all, be confident, but not cocky. Confidence is key to good shooting, while cockiness is often the cause of “gaping chest wounds.”

Stay tuned as I tackle the next item on My List.

What’s on Your List?