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.