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Novices take aim at a new sport (Article w/video)

Discussion in 'Uncategorized Threads' started by Joe Potosky, Nov 5, 2008.

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  1. Joe Potosky

    Joe Potosky Well-Known Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    The article includes a video.... Visit the posted link!

    Novices take aim at a new sport, and find shooting is a kick - literally

    By Roxana Orellana and Maggie Thach

    The Salt Lake Tribune

    Once fearful, novices Roxana Orellana and Maggie Thach learn to pull the trigger. Here's how it went:

    Roxana Orellana

    Magna ยป Someone once explained to me that the fear I felt every time I tried something new was irrational.

    "If you have done that one thing before and felt fear, then it's rational for you to be afraid next time you try it. Otherwise it's just not valid."

    I bought it.

    But I lost it as soon as I was handed the heavy 20-gauge shotgun.

    The Magna Gun Club buzzed with sounds like a 4th of July celebration on the cool lazy Sunday morning Maggie and I took our first trapshooting lesson. Red clay disks flew into the sky in the distance as shooters of all ages practiced their aim.

    Outfitted with the required eye and ear protection and padded vest, we listened attentively before handling our main source of fear -- the shotgun.

    I positioned my body with the help of Suzi Farley, a petite, level-headed NRA Certified shotgun and hunter's education instructor.

    "Butt out, left leg and torso forward, right leg back with a locked knee," she said, adding that this would help me get off a better shot and balance my body.

    Like most new things I've tried in this series, it began with nervous excitement. "I'm about to shoot something all by myself. This is a big gun. I can't way to tell my brothers."

    I held the gun so gently that anyone would have thought I was holding a rabid sleeping animal that, if awakened, would bite me to pieces.

    Hands shaking, breathing shallow, cold sweat. I could barely hold and steady the heavy weapon to my shoulder. The shaking was a combination of unsettled nerves and weakening strength in my arms, the kind you get in gym while trying to do one more pullup in front of your classmates.

    "Just try to relax. It's OK. Nothing is going to happen," said Sue Igo Sodoma, also a NRA Certified shotgun instructor and a champion of ladies western states trapshooting.

    "OK, OK, OK," I muttered to myself. "Get a grip. You're a tough woman and you can certainly do this."

    Maggie volunteered me to go first. Her excuse: We both react the same way to something new. If I panic, she'll try to remain calm, pretty much using my experience to avoid embarrassing herself. "Thanks, friend."

    Both women helped me get set, Suzi standing behind me in case I flew backwards after I shot the gun. That's what I thought would happen, anyway. Sue corrected my grip.

    "Pull!" I yelled after fidgeting to get comfortable. Both eyes focused (it usually takes me several blinks to focus due to my astigmatism) in the direction where the flying clay disk would appear.

    After a couple breaths, shotgun readjusted and right cheek to the stock of the gun, I coaxed my index finger to the trigger.

    Like a chain-reaction, the expletives flew out of my mouth as soon as the shot left the gun, shaking my body slightly back with the impact. Because my vision is so bad, I didn't plan on hitting anything.

    Sue and Suzi, however, had the faith and confidence of people who have dealt with too many novices like me.

    "You'll hit something," they reassured us.

    "I don't know," I thought. "I've come to learn all I'm really capable of doing these days is jog, and even that is tough."

    Well, those ladies knew what they were talking about. Maggie took her first shot. She followed it with a face that said, "I'm not sure why I'm smiling but what I just did was intense."

    I prepared for my second shot. Safety off, shot dropped and locked, gun to shoulder and eyes to target.


    The shot was all mine and hit the disk. On my second try, I did it!

    More expletives, cheers and sounds I would not know how to describe.

    It's like hitting the target at one of those rigged carnival games and winning the biggest stuffed animal. But in this case the prize was better: a boost of self confidence, a new skill and some fun.

    Maggie Thach

    The first thing Roxana and I saw as we pulled up to the Magna Gun Club was Sue Igo Sodoma was in perfect shooting stance in the trap field hitting almost every clay bird. She looked so strong, confident and in control. That's how I wanted to feel holding a shot gun.

    I never imagined I would be anywhere around a gun, let alone pulling the trigger. There were nerves, but mostly it was excitement.

    Sodoma and Suzi Farley were our instructors for our trapshooting lesson. They are both certified by the NRA and know what they are talking about. Still, that didn't keep me from zoning out as they gave us safety tips. Listening is a requirement in this job but when it comes to instructions, you'll usually find me with a vacant look on my face. Or maybe my eyeballs shifting left to right, searching for something else to focus my attention.

    But, I quickly snapped out of that as I realized handling guns is nothing to take lightly.

    We learned about the safety, the proper way to hold a shotgun when you're walking around, and about shot shells. I thought all bullets were the same -- the kind that are shown in movies in slow motion. But the shells we would be putting in our 20-gauge shotguns were packed with tiny pellets.

    "Nothing you see in the movies is true," said Igo Sodoma. "I hate seeing when they shoot handguns sideways. You can't hit the side of a barn holding a gun like that."

    Armed with safety knowledge and a pair of ear plugs, we got acquainted with our guns. I had to locate the safety latch, as well as where to load the shot shell. I examined every divot and crevice. As Farley put it, I had to "love the gun."

    That was especially true when I held the gun up to aim. It was too much to remember at first. Right elbow out, lean forward, put all your weight on your front leg, butt out and face down on the butt of the gun, as if you're nuzzling it. Then my arms would get tired and my right elbow would go limp.

    I was definitely not looking strong and confident. That's why I volunteered Roxana to go first. Usually I can watch what not to do by seeing her go first. I saw her arms tremble as she lifted up the gun to the sky. She was so nervous. Note to self: Don't do that.

    She fired, but the clay bird eluded her and flew out of view. I didn't fare much better on my first attempt. But, Roxana raised the stakes on her next shot by hitting the target. OK, pressure is on.

    I really don't like when she beats me at things.

    "Pull!" I said. I waited two seconds and applied pressure to the trigger. I got a piece of the target. Roxana hit her next shot, although she said "shoot" instead of "pull." I looked at her, perplexed, but didn't want to break her concentration.

    I tried to be supportive and cheer her on. But, Roxana knowing how competitive I am, was hesitant to accept my positive vibes and I sensed she thought I was teasing. But, I wasn't. Handling a gun is nerve-wracking but incredibly empowering.

    And thanks to Browning, where Igo Sodoma works, we had an endless supply of bullets. We shot about 30 rounds and Roxana and I hit about half our shots.

    But one shot was especially memorable. Everything lined up perfectly. I had good form. I was fixed in on my goal. I called "pull" and hit the bird perfectly on target. I saw the clay explode into almost equal pieces. I was excited to her Farley and Sodoma say it was a near perfect shot.

    I can't say I was perfect on every shot, but on that one, I did feel strong, confident and in control.
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