I had not pulled a trigger, not held a gun, for more than 15 years.
It's not that I had taken some sort of philosophical stance against firearms. It's just that my last encounter with a weapon - an M-16 in Air Force basic training - had proved fairly definitively that I don't have much of a shooter's eye. In fact, I seem to recall the words "broad side" and "barn" being used in reference to my shooting ability.
But I've never been one to let a lack of natural talent stand in my way.
Recently, in the name of research, I attempted the deceptively difficult sport of skeet shooting at the Pinetucky Gun Club. I say deceptively difficult because it's a sport that, from a safe distance, seems simple enough. The targets are, after all, bright orange, slow-moving and not that far away. The shooter also is armed with a shotgun, a fairly forgiving firearm.
Here's the thing, however: When sighted down the barrel of a gun, those little buggers move a lot faster. Not only that, but it's also hard to keep a steady eye when you know that a big boom and healthy kick will accompany any attempts at downing the flying saucers.
Still, I'm happy to say that although I clearly was the least capable of the five shooters ready, aim and firing, I was able to put a small, but noticeable, dent in the local clay target population. More important, I found myself edified and illuminated several important points. For instance, proper stance is important, as evidenced by the purple bloom that began to emerge on my shoulder two days later. Second, skeet shooting is not a sport of careful aim and fire. Instead, it's like golf with a loaded weapon, with success dependent on a smooth swing and the right release.
Needless to say, I haven't got the technique down yet, but I am willing to try some more.
After all, there's still clay targets out there that deserve to die.
Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.