Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Trigger Therapy

   I always felt bad for Charlie Brown, especially during his sad episodes or comics when a giant rain cloud hovered over his every step.  No matter where the football-shaped headed boy placed his bread-loaf-esque feet, the cloud was sure to follow.  Hovering like the memory of an ex-boyfriend who just refuses to go away or a bad decision long since passed, his cloud cast shadows even on the most marginally happy thought. As of late, I've felt the same way.  My little sad precipitation bubble follows me around, sure to exacerbate any well-meaning occurrence. 

    Even tonight, after  full day of applying for jobs, working out and finally submitting my application for graduate school to achieve my master's, my morose hovering partner remains. I find it incongruous that after such a productive day which included the positive results of my GRE (84th percentile in the analytical portion) and taking a gigantic step in my scholastic future that I still feel Mr. Sad Cloud's forlorn gaze. But as I lay here, contemplating throwing one of my library books through his gray-looking underbelly, I remember that there are times that his presence is not felt. While some people sprint to the nearest therapist, lay on their seedy couches and spill their problems out to a stranger charging $75 a half hour, I am not one of those people.  I believe in the more therapeutic process of trigger therapy.

   A couple of weeks ago, DU was talking about the times he had spent in Indiana shooting skeet with his buddies.  Apparently after hours upon hours of reloading their own shells, the boys would take their homemade ammo to a skeet range, shoot 5-stand or trap and just hang out together; their day spent away from the restrains of everyday life.  Always up for anything that involves guns and competition (maybe not the best mix), I was quick to lunge at the chance to try out this new sport, especially because it would utilize my newest firearm.  Just before I lost my job, The Owner and I were in cahoots in order to get rid of his old Stoeger 12 gauge 2,000 semi-automatic shotgun.  I had fired the piece of artwork, fell head-over-heels in love with the thing and promptly told him that I would be honored to take the gun off of his hands.  However, just about a week later, my job disappeared, along with it the money to pay for the firearm.  Given that I'm a woman of my word, I worked out a way to get rid of two of my old shotguns in favor of this great gun and fantastic deal.

    We arrived at the local skeet range to a packed house.  Groups of 10, 15, and 20 guys milled around gargantuan pick-up trucks, toting anything from the cheapest 20 gauge to the newest 12 Benellis.  The novice voice inside my head instructed me to promptly run away as quickly as possible from the range to avoid any heckling or jests at my expense.  But DU beat me to the punch and paid for 3 rounds apiece, forcing me to shoot along with the rest. With trepidation I meandered by the groups waiting to shoot, each outfitted with a shell bag and various name brand apparel.  I wanted to sink into the gravel with my ratty box of shells and no-name pink camo hat. Fortunately, we were invited to shoot with a group of 4 men whose camo hats and roughneck exterior told me I had nothing to fear.

   After a couple had shot as I sat on the sidelines, it was my turn.  Completely out of my comfort zone, I shot wherever and clandestinely prayed that my bullets would hit their targets.  Round after round and not one clay was met with my shot.  My frustration mounted and the sad cloud that had threatened to make an appearance the entire time began to show up.  But then my redeemer, dressed in a dirty wife-beater and ancient Remmington hat, showed me how to place my feet while explaining the importance of a proper lead.  I listened attentively then stood at the final shot box, exactly in the middle of the range, under both the high and low houses.

   [High house= the edifice that throws a clay out of the right side from a tall house, making the clay fly higher and drop more slowly]
   [Low house= the edifice that throws a clay out of the left side from a shorter house, making the clay fly lower to the ground]

   I stood as I was told, shouldered the gun, took a deep breath and screamed PULL.  The high house shot its clay high in the air.  I followed the orange disk until it was projected over my head.  Shooting moments prior, I was showered with the brightly colored faux pigeons.  Applause broke out, even in different ranges.  I gloated, took a small bow then came to rest with the group.  The next in line took his shot and missed.  Then the next to his shot, another miss.  Seven shooters in all and I was the only one standing; the only one who made the hardest shot.

   A hefty amount of beginners luck can be attributed to that shot, as I've tried many times after that to explode one and have only done it a couple times.  But that shot showed that my ill-wishing gray friend could be expelled by the crack of the firearm followed by the distinguishable scent of gunpowder better than anything else; except of course 5-stand.

   Just like in any good romantic comedy, as I began falling for skeet shooting, 5-stand starting piquing my attention.  I had heard that 5 stand was tough but I did not believe it until I actually saw it.  DU had been hunting for a good sport shooting range when he came across a private gun club in Charlotte.   Abandoning our trusty home range, we ventured to much more greener pastures.  The gun club was beautiful; the clubhouse had mounts from animals I had only seen in magazines and dream nightly of harvesting.  While the club itself is members-only; skeet, trap and 5-stand are open to the public.  So, when DU saw there was no one waiting for 5 stand, we made our way over.

   My initial impression of 5 stand was a combination of bewildered confusion and awe. Walking toward the area, it looked like a gigantic steeple with an attached platform. I saw 5 metal cages large enough for a giant to easily shoot under.  A lanky skeleton of a man decked out in the red uniform of the club draped under a puffy camo jacket was reclining above to the line of cages on a wooden deck, seemingly waiting for his next victims. 2 of which were shooting at clays that appeared out of nowhere. Bewildered, I approached the gigantic tower.  DU began explaining the rules.  There were cards that looked roughly like this:

     GAME ONE                                                               GAME TWO
       Novice                                                                    Experienced
        Single                                                                         Single
            1                                                                                  4
         Pairs                                                                           Pairs
         2     2                                                                            7     1
         Pairs                                                                        True Pairs
         6      6                                                                           5     8

   These cards could have been written in ancient Sumerian for all the sense they made to me.  I quickly abandoned trying to make heads or tails of the rules and focused on the duo shooting before us.  I attempted to harness all the telepathic powers I do not possess in order to infiltrate their minds to understand how they knew where the skeet were coming from.  But alas and alack, this did not work and as they trooped out of the cages, I was left with a sinking feeling in my stomach.

[Later I came to find that these numbers signified where on the field the skeet would be shot from.  A normal pair, for the novice, will shoot two clays from the same position, 4 seconds apart.  A normal pair, for the more advanced, will shoot two clays from different positions, 4 seconds apart.  Finally, a true pair signifies two clays, shot from different places at the exact same time.  The latter takes a while to master but is currently my favorite to shoot.]

   DU proclaimed that he, E4 and I would shoot game one.  Two more joined our party and onlookers amassed as the round progressed.

    I never shoot well under pressure, let alone when it is something that I am unfamiliar with.  My first shots were completely off so as our statuesque trapper advanced toward my cage I began collecting my shells, believing I'd be kicked out for my 5-stand ineptitude.   But he gently pointed to the left, told me that the the next shot would come from station 2 and that four seconds later, another skeet would come from the same direction.  The lead is about 2 feet and you have a least 3 seconds to shoot, he gruffly said, waiting behind me for the call.


   The first skeet shattered into thousands of biodegradable shards.


    The second followed its twin to the pigeon graveyard below.

   Adrenaline coursed through my veins, working like pistons in a Duramax diesel. A smile crept onto my face and refused to allow Mr. Sad Cloud to scrape it off.  I had found my happy place and it was here, amongst empty shell casings and dead pigeons.

   We've shot 5-stand a handful of times since that first visit.  Each time I'm getting better and shooting regular skeet no longer poses a challenge.  I'm starting to feel where each shot should go and where they will connect the best with the flying disks.  Naturally, I falter. But that trapper still stands by and supplies me with rich advice.  My sad thoughts dissipate with each hit; the hovering cloud moves a bit further away as well.

   Trigger therapy works its magic each time I visit any range.  It is a feeling of power, of being able to hit any target, reach any goal.  Now only if little Charlie Brown had known this secret.  Then Lucy would have stopped, once and for all with moving that football; then Charlie may have kicked it and his cloud would disappear too.


A Reel Lady said...

As an avid trapshooter I believe in trigger therapy as well. It takes your mind off everything, and the camaraderie can't be beat. Great post girl!

SimplyOutdoors said...

I sincerely believe that many mental "afflictions" could be put away for good if more people participated in the shooting sports. There is seriously something thearupuetic about willing a projectile, through proper concentration and technique, into a target downrange.

It's awesome. It always brightens my day. It's good for the soul.

Keep your chin up.

Chris said...

Great job. Skeet and 5stand are truly a challenge. I'm not sure I could do it if I wasn't feeling up to snuff. Go shoot trap... it's like mini putt of the shooting sports! Sounds like you're headed in the right direction. My best freind called me about 2.5 years ago wondering what he would do. He just lost his job and didn't know what direction to go in. He graduated with his masters in accounting in December and now he's a big shot accountant in Chicago. I guess we'll all be little people to you in a few years. Good luck in your life journey.

Scott said...

Awesome post. I want therapy, I need therapy.............

Murphyfish said...

Glad that you displaced that cloud me dear, sometimes it just takes a little diversion to lighten your day.

Hunt Like You're Hungry said...

A Reel Lady- Thank ya, darlin! It's so nice to see other girls shooting trap, skeet and especially 5-stand. I have only seen a couple do skeet and even less 5-stand.

Simply- Agreed, sir. I had no idea how much healing could be done on the gun range.
Things are starting to turn around so my chin will most certainly be left up. :-)

Chris- I've tried trap and it wasn't for me. 5-stand replicates the kind of hunting I'll do when duck season comes around.
Awesome to hear about your friend.. we'll see as to how I do in school. Given that I'm terribly short, I'll always be a littler person but if I ever do become a "big shot", I'll be sure to remember those who got me here.

Scott- Go get some!!

The Fish of Murphy- Yes that silly cloud tries to ruin perfectly good days but I've been proficient in expelling him quickly.

Thanks for stopping by, all!


A Reel Lady said...

Oh now I never said I shot 5 stand LOL....us trapshooters have firm beliefs about sporting clays & skeet shooters ;) I've shot skeet once or twice, but there aren't any decent 5 stand ranges near us, and I have invested too much in a trap shooting only kind of gun, so I'll keep playing the old man's game :)