Who says so? Annie Oakley, that’s who. Quite the contrary, I found about a dozen men with guns this past weekend.
On a whim, I did a search for those old lyrics, the tune running through my mind, and was quite entertained by the verses. She didn’t say she couldn’t FIND a man with a gun. She said she couldn’t GET a man with a gun! There’s a big difference!
So, what do all these things in the photo below have in common?
They all have something to do with guns and are used in the sport of “5 Stand”, which was the catalyst for my education in sporting clays last weekend.
For the second year in a row, the Saturday morning outing for the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Conference was a shooting event. Last year, I watched, took photos, and chatted with club members between shotgun blasts. All I knew about the shooting activity was that those orange things were called sporting clays and someone was keeping score.
This year, I went along for the ride mainly because the Board holds their meeting at the shooting range, and since I’m on the Board, I needed to go. Besides, Joe Macaluso was cooking up a mean pot of chicken and sausage jambalaya for lunch, and I didn’t want to miss that!
As fine gentlemen will do, a few of them asked me if I was going to shoot, and one of them even offered the use of his shotgun and shells. My answer each time was a gracious “no thank you, but I sure would like a pack of those bright orange ear plugs.”
As the first five men approached their stands, I took my spot beside the young man in charge at the picnic table behind and facing the shooting stands. This time, I wanted to pay attention to how this game works.
It’s called 5 stand because there are, of course, five shooting stands set up from left to right facing an open field.
In that field are five machines, strategically placed to fling the clay saucers, (I mean sporting clays) mimicking a rabbit running or a bird flying.
The shooter in Stand 1, to our far left, starts first. A sign or “menu” tells the shooter that the first shot is a single shot at a clay coming from position number three. Position three, on this course, was up high to the left, which simulated a bird flying from left to right about twenty feet up.
Then Stand 2 took his single shot, a clay ejected from position one, which shot out across the ground and bounced like a rabbit hopping.
One by one, they took their turns, on down the line
until Stand 5 had taken his shot.
After Stand 5 took his shot, they “unloaded and rotated”, advancing one stand, with the shooter at Stand 5 moving to Stand 1.
The menu now tells each stand that there will be two clays coming from two different positions, one at a time. As each shooter got set, he shouted “PULL” and the young man seated beside me pushed a button on his black console (pictured above) sending the clay from its numbered position. He activated the second clay “on the report of the gun”, which means the shooter better know where that second clay critter is coming from before pulling the trigger, because there is very little time to think between shots.
Every position in the field is labeled with a big number sign, so that the shooter can look at his menu, see where the clays will eject from, get his aim ready and then call for the pull. With a total of five shots at each of five stands, a perfect score would be twenty five. The score pad is also pictured above, with final scores out to the right. Looks like the highest score was eighteen.
I learned that this is a challenging sport that increases skill level as you participate. It was competitive in two ways: against each other or against one’s own best score. As I sat there, I wondered if this was something I would enjoy trying.
When I was a little girl, I accompanied my dad on a few squirrel hunts until my baby brother was old enough to take my place. As a young woman, I did a little squirrel hunting of my own and even bagged a few. My hunting career came to an end, though, when I wounded a rabbit and heard it cry.
Since then, I’ve just shot things with my camera. Three of my four sons are avid hunters, and even though I don’t shoot to kill animals, it was my parental duty to make sure they attended their hunter safety course and to provide safe hunting opportunities for them with seasoned hunters. Hunting is part of their heritage, and quite honestly, if you are an American, it is part of your heritage, as well. Our ancestors, whether they were Native American or early American settlers, depended on hunting for at least part of their food. Safe hunting is a good skill for young men to be trained in–who knows what the future holds and whether or not they may need those skills to feed their families one day.
As I sat day dreaming about finding a sporting clay course in a nearby town, I decided this was something I could do. Termite and I would go as often as we could afford during the coming year, and I would surprise my colleagues with my Annie Oakley skills at next year’s Saturday morning shooting spree. Just then, someone tapped me on the shoulder and reminded me it was time for the Board meeting, snapping me out of my daydream.
As ideas were being thrown out about next year’s conference, there was some talk about doing a quail and pheasant hunt. Next morning at breakfast, Joe Macaluso asked me if that would be something I would enjoy. I said yes, but what I didn’t say was that while I would enjoy going, I would not be shooting birds. Rather, I’ll be shooting photos so I can come back here and write an entertaining story for you about the trip.
You see, my rule is to never join a club and ask them to change the club to suit me. If you don’t like the club the way it is, go find another.
These men are a great group. They’ve allowed me to be part of their “good ole’ boys’ club” and have all been perfect gentlemen. I fear they are a dying breed. I don’t know them all personally, nor do I know all their skills and talents, but what I do know about them is that they are manly men who do things like write, read, take photographs, shoot video, host TV and radio shows, and pull the chair out for a lady.
It is my honor to be part of their club, and I hope to be a positive addition to their membership. In the process, I will learn from them and be thankful for the opportunity.