Gunpowder & Lead

I shot a gun for the first time ever last January (2011). It was a BB gun and I hit the intended target (one of several beer cans hanging from a fence) exactly one time. I didn’t love it or hate it, but I certainly didn’t “get” it.

I have zero desire to own a gun and/or ever kill anything. I have a (now more-than) slight interest in going to an inside gun range and aiming at a man-shaped target with a hand gun. But despite having had the vague desire for a few years now, I’ve yet to feel the need to follow through.

A month or so ago, I received an email regarding a Living Social deal that involved skeet shooting, a bbq, and a whiskey tasting. I don’t know which part excited me more, but the combo sounded irresistible. What a perfect group outing! I emailed some pals, and talked enough of them into doing it that I got my adventure for free. It doesn’t get better than free.

Going in I was super nervous about this recoil thing I kept hearing about. Someone said I might even break my clavicle if I held the gun wrong. I figured that of COURSE I would hold the gun wrong and fracture my poor little collar bone. As I laid in bed too excited to sleep the night before (it was literally like Christmas morning!) I made a rough schedule of how I would have to go and get my hair washed every few days because there would be no way I could do it myself with my clavicle being broken and all.

I feel like it should be noted that despite the possibility of injury, I was still super pumped about it. Whatever happened, I was gonna deal, because I was going to shoot a real gun and not hurt anything (but maybe myself).

My dad hunts, my brother hunts, my little sister has hunted, one of my nephews and two of my nieces have hunted, my mom shoots skeet…and again, (aside from that one time with the BB gun) I had never picked up a gun. Unless you count the one I plugged into my Nintendo console and used to play Duck Hunt.

You guys. Skeet shooting is JUST LIKE Duck Hunt.

We arrived at Raahauge‘s and had a very quick safety briefing/lesson. We learned you point shotguns, you don’t aim them. We were also shown a proper stance and the way to hold the gun so as not to bust your shoulder/clavicle.

They also decided that girls would use 20 gauge because they’re smaller so the kick would be less. I only shot the 20 so I can’t tell you if that is in fact true.

I know you can’t see my face, but I promise that mess of auburnish-hair holding that shotgun is me. This was the very first station and that guy kept telling me it was like tennis…and baseball…and golf…and a whole bunch of other sports I’ve never played. I somehow made contact and shot one anyway. As in out of my first four shots ever. I got one. I felt like a champ. Boo-yah biodegradable orange clay pigeon!

The kick was nowhere near as bad as I had anticipated. And after the first time I learned that the part that hurt worst was gritting my teeth, so I quit doing that.

Ok but here’s the thing: in addition to the orange discs shooting through the air, there were also real birds flying around. Like in a flock. And then they would walk around. Right in the area we were aiming pointing our guns at.

I was petrified I was going to accidentally shoot one of them. I wondered aloud how they could be so stupid to hang out all cavalier on a gun range. I mean, seriously. Find a new playground! That’s when our group leader told us that last week, another Living Social patron had hit a bird. While the last thing I wanted to see was a bird explode, I decided that as long as it wasn’t me, I wouldn’t be overly traumatized. I mean, what the heck were they doing flying in an airborne minefield?

So we visited several different stations on the grounds wherein we were in varied positions and the clay pigeons came from different places and went different directions.

Each station had its own expert. Each of whom had their own way of teaching, and just like in most cases where learning is involved, we all found a teacher that worked best for us. The guy above kept getting very upset with me for stopping the gun. I still managed to get a few good ones in, tho. I was happy to get at least one at each station. Any more was icing. I succeeded in this goal, so I was cool.

My personal best was 6 out of 8. My teacher for that one was a teenage girl who had been shooting for a year and a half. The clay pigeons came up from the ground, hung in the air for a second and then dropped. She told me to not be distracted by the sun (it was staring me right in the face) and to catch the skeet during the hang time. Somehow I was able to do just that because I blew those things into smithereens! Nobody was more surprised than I was.

Then we saw this awesome cloud rainbow:

I enhanced the photo, but the rainbow part really looked like that.

Several of the guns were different styles. Some were heavier. And again, we all had our favorites. (The lighter ones, for instance.) I also liked the ones where you could load two shells at a time. Because on those few times I was in a zone and blasting the targets, I didn’t have to break form to reload.

This gun was the last one and by far my least favorite. The top part of the butt-part of the gun with the springs (they didn’t teach us the terminology) was the only one to hurt my face. It hit right at your cheek, and I didn’t like it.

This station was also the most difficult, with the clay pigeon flying out of the trees on the right side and up into the air before dropping. But I still managed to get a couple.

I felt really good about the way it all went. I impressed myself, which was nice. My shoulder is sore today, and I have some light bruising, but nothing near as spectacular as I was hoping for.

I think I’ll probably try the handgun thing next. Skeet shooting is an expensive hobby and I’m sure I’ll probably do it again, but I’m not going to go join a gun club about it. Thankful for a new experience to give me a glimpse into a sport I never considered before.

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