Annie’s got her gun!

Well, my middle name is Ann so I guess “Annie get yer gun” kinda works.

I’m not terribly familiar with guns, not having been raised around them. I’ve shot a handgun before and I think I recall shooting at tins cans with a rifle at some point (college maybe?) but in general guns give me the heebie jeebies because they’re unknown to me. But in northern Louisiana, where we spent a few blissful days, guns are as common as mosquitoes on a hot summer night.

The wise George Washington said ”Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the people’s liberty’s teeth.” I always liked the idea of liberty teeth. In this case, the firearms weren’t about liberty but about an afternoon’s entertainment.

My favorite 13-year-old has been itching to shoot a gun for a while. He talks about wanting to go deer hunting, and his vegetarian mama and his city-slicker daddy look at him like, “Good luck with that.” I will make him watch Bambi a few hundred times before I’d turn him loose with a gun in a deer blind.

Shooting clay pigeons, though, is another matter entirely and one I wholeheartedly endorse. 

We pulled into the private shooting range with our expert guide, Evan. He’s Amy’s nephew and while he’s new to the sport, he’s already a state champion. I knew we were in good hands.

Evan hopped out to unlock the gate across the driveway to his own shooting range, and I was charmed by this little house at the mouth of the property. 

The scenery surrounding the shooting range looks like this:

And like this:

I wanted to take a closer look at the picturesque pond, but as it was in the direct line of the shooting range, I thought I’d better stay put.

Evan schooled us on the basics of gun safety — keep it cracked, engage the safety, don’t point it at people, etc. 

Then we got a little lesson on skeet shooting and trap shooting. All I knew about this sport prior to meeting Evan was that it seemed cool to yell “Pull!” Now I know a lot more.

I also dug around a little and discovered that the sport was created in the early 1920s when the industrial revolution crowded out hunting land and hunters had to work harder to find both space and game to hunt. Skeet shooting became a form of practice, and its popularity spread. The act of shooting the clay targets simulates actual hunting, and accounts for the targets’ being called clay pigeons.

A skeet shooting range is typically comprised of 7 positions arranged in a semicircle spanning 21 yards. There are two houses that launch the pigeons. The “high house” launches the pigeons at a 10-foot height, while the “low house” launches from 3 feet. 

In the “high house,” the targets are neatly arranged in a dealy-bob like this:

Once they’re all loaded onto the dealy-bob, you can shoot away to your heart’s content. I took a quick peek out the window of the “high house” to get a bird’s eye view. Or a clay piegeon’s view, as it were.

Straight ahead, out the “high house” window, is the “low house.”

We had two different guns, but truth be told I didn’t pay much attention at that point. Once we’d covered the safety info, I turned my attention to the afternoon’s refreshments.

My favorite girl spent her time not shooting but getting to know Evan’s sister, Ellis, who is not only the same age but also owns the same outfit as my girl. Kismet! The girls enjoyed the beautiful day at the shooting range playing the iPhone version of the game of Life.

 

Watching Evan shoot, it was easy to see why he’s a champion. He has the mark of a great athlete in that he makes his sport appear easy. There’s a grace and effortlessness to the way he shoulders his gun, squints his eyes, and tracks the target. Amy & I watched the kids shoot and hollered at the top of our lungs when a clay pigeon was struck mid-air. Evan made it look easy, but upon further inspection,I learned that hitting a target that measures 4 5/16 inches around and is barely an inch thick is a bit harder than it seems. It took my favorite boy a few tries but he nailed one, and the grin that split his face apart was worth the trip in and of itself. 

After the boys had all shot, it was my turn. The gun might have been a little long for me, but I managed to nail a clay pigeon on my third try. My expert advisor noticed I was pulling the trigger before the target had a chance to crest, and my impatience the first two tries got the better of me. Once I slowed down, that pigeon was history. 

Rudyard Kipling once observed that “a man can never have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition.” I’m not going to argue with that!

Come back tomorrow to hear the story of Choppa, the wolf in the bathroom.

 

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9 Comments on “Annie’s got her gun!”

  1. Eddie says:

    Gee, I wonder why your memory of shooting in college is hazy? Must’ve had similar refreshments to what was offered in La.! While not a fan of guns myself, the setting and the company make it look like a very enjoyable afternoon. Green Acres is the place to be!!

  2. David Benbow says:

    I’m also not a gun fan, but I would probably give it a try. Like you, I’m not one to back down to a challenge. Besides, my NRA-supporting father-in-law would think I was a weenie if I didn’t.

    I’ve never tried the Ruby Redbird Shiner, but Shiner Bock remains my favorite beer. You can take the boy out of Texas, but yada yada yada…

  3. Jan Baird says:

    Love the photos. And the Kipling quote at the end of your post made me laugh. How those three things go together is amazing. xx

  4. Amy H. says:

    You forgot to mention that I got up there and “nailed” my pigeon on the first try! I definitely needed to prove myself and was glad that my shooting skills were still up to snuff! BTW, Nancy provided the refreshments! They even let us fill the small ice chest with free ice at the BBQ joint that was on my “North Louisiana Culinary Tour” that I made her endure!

  5. Jody Hicks says:

    Like you, I wasn’t raised around guns, never wanted one, and therefore the same goes for my “city slicker” son. However, this looks like a good challenge and a lot of fun, especially for people with exceptional hand-eye coordination like my grandson! Great pictures and writing, as usual, as well as an enjoyable education for me, since I never knew before what skeet shooting was all about.

  6. Wow. What a great way to spend a vacation – shooting clay pigeons is something I’ve always thought looked really cool. Thanks for the virtual adventure!

    Catherine
    http://www.facingcancer.ca

  7. [...] blog fodder, like this post about the trip itself and this post about puttin’ up corn and this post about skeet-shooting and this post about the best practical joke in a long time, maybe [...]

  8. Shawna says:

    What a great time for you and the kids! Glad everyone enjoyed themselves and you daughter even made a new friend!


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