The first one up hit all but one of them.  Obliterated them, into tiny pieces.  He walked up without a word, raised the shotgun to his shoulder and pressed it to his cheek, aimed, yelled “pull,” and BOOM, the orange mini-UFO was destroyed.  And the next one.  Then the next one.  All but one and I think he grazed that one.  As he opened his gun and walked, no, strutted, back to the group of students, I knew I couldn’t go next.

This scene was the start of the skeet shooting BEGINNER class at the Tom Lowe Trap and Skeet Range ( that I took with the Hubby last weekend.  Actually, we did have a short class inside first, where we learned about gun safety and how to try not to kill anyone or ourselves.  I had started to get nervous the night before, and in the classroom began to get even more nervous, because I know that I am not the most focused person in the world and get easily distracted by shiny things.  What if I’m in the middle of shooting and I happen to see a cloud that looks like Jesus or something?  I might get distracted, forget that I’m holding a loaded weapon, and shoot somebody.  Or my hubby.  Or that guy that hit 24/25 microscopic targets, who would easily win a shootout with a middle-aged 5’6″ woman who needs to lose 10 pounds.

After the first guy went, a hush came over the class.  People looked at one another, nodding approvingly, with raised eyebrows.  Quite the show that Faux Beginner put on.  I decided that the show I might put on might actually be more like “ER” or a bad western, and noticing that each person left after they went, I knew I had to go last.

We watched the others and it helped me calm down a bit.  Most hit a few of the targets; some were really good and, again, obviously not real beginners.  Some were nervous like me.  The Hubby kept saying, “go on up there, do you want to go, let’s go, wanna go now?”  He was chomping at the bit, and since each couple or group that came together would go together, he had to wait for me.

I’ve never shot a shotgun before.  I have shot a pistol once before, when I worked a summer in Montana; a coworker let me shoot his gun at a target and well, I missed.  Hard to believe that was 17 years ago.  Since then, I’ve always wanted to shoot a shotgun just to see what it was like.  Skeet shooting looks like a fun sport and I love sports.  But faced with the opportunity, I hate to admit I was really scared.  I was scared of the power it had.  I didn’t want that power, or the responsibility it carried with it.

Finally it was our turn; everyone else had left but us and the instructor.  The Hubby went first and was a natural.  Hit almost every single one.  I feel so much safer knowing that my Hubby will be able to protect us in any clay target attacks that may come our way in the future.

The Hubby

Then it was my turn.  First of all, the gun is much heavier than I anticipated.  I put it up to my shoulder and cheek like they showed us, leaned forward, heart racing, sweaty hands shaking, feeling like a Woody Allen version of Annie Oakley.  The gun wasn’t even loaded yet.

Neurotic cowgirl. Photo taken by the Hubby.

The instructor, Mitch, said, “okay, now hold it with confidence.”

“Um, that doesn’t look confident?” I asked.

“No,” the short-on-words Mitch said.

“Well, that’s because I’m not confident,” I said.

“Why not?  That gun isn’t gonna hurt you.  You’re in control.  It’s not gonna shoot on its own.  You tell it what to do.  Okay, do it again, with confidence,” Mitch pep-talked.

So he loaded the shell into the gun, I put that sucker up to my shoulder, aimed it, yelled “pull!”, and pulled the trigger.  Scared myself to death — a seriously loud boom, even with the ear plugs, and the gun’s recoil was fairly powerful.  But not as bad as I thought.  And then I was relieved, because I had shot the thing and no one died.

Faking confidence. Photo taken by the Hubby.

I ended up hitting 2 targets, out of sheer luck.  We had 25 shots, which I thought was nothing, until I got to the 10th one or so and found that I have absolutely no upper body strength whatsoever.  The shotgun was so heavy and the way you hold it leaning forward…men have the definite advantage with their upper body muscles- a point which I made to the Hubby as he wallowed in his skeet shooting superiority, after which he tried to make me feel better by reminding me that I had won the bowling game a few days before.  I was comforted that at least I’ll be of use should we ever be forced by terrorists to bowl for our lives.

I am still sore.  My entire upper body has hurt for 3 days.  It is better and I’m hoping not to need Advil tonight.  I didn’t even know we had a muscle that runs under your arm, down your side.  But I know now.  Who knew that skeet shooting was such a workout?  The good shooters make it look so easy, but it’s not.

Go ahead, make my day. Photo taken by the Hubby.

There was only one Ya-hoo in the group (you know there’s always one.) He was behind the instructor and picked up a gun out of turn, closed it and pointed it (unloaded) like he was practicing.  We’d been told not to do that already (because what if it was accidentally loaded?)  Mitch was on him like glaze on a Krispy Kreme…they do not mess around out there.  Which I am glad about, of course, but the whole day was pretty serious business and I’m not always the best at serious.  The golf-like quiet, while understandable, unnerved me.

Now that I know what to expect, I look forward to trying it again.  Maybe I’ll hit a few more targets, but if not, I can always hit a Target on the way home!