I stepped up to the first shooting post, 12-gauge shotgun in hand, ready to show Gig Harbor Sportsman’s Club president Le Rodenberg that I was not an average beginner. The usual first timer hits around 3 traps out of 25, he told me. I’d only shot a handgun before, but I was determined to be better than average.
I loaded the gun, took a deep breath, set my sights, and yelled, “PULL!” The trap zoomed out of the house, I tracked it carefully, and BOOM! Nailed it.
Just kidding — I wasn’t even close. The Krieghoff shotgun was actually more comfortable than I was expecting, thanks to a shock absorber on the end of the gun. Now that I had my first shot under my belt, I felt I was ready. I stepped up again, took a deep breath, pulled the trigger. Still, not even close.
This went on for a while. My first two posts proved fruitless, and I felt a little frustrated. Rodenberg was patient and gracious, offering helpful tips. I was shooting too high, too quickly, not following the trap correctly.
By the third post, fear began to set in: I might not hit a single trap. I was nearly through the third post, when on my 14th shot, much to my surprise, bang! Lucky No. 14, I suppose. I felt a rush of adrenaline and gave Rodenberg a high-five, smiling wide.
This was the start of something special, I believed — the birth of a marksman. I now possessed the skill and precision of a Navy SEAL sniper. Call it arrogance if you want, but to me it was supreme confidence, the kind of feeling Michael Jordan must have felt when he hit his first game-winning shot.
The only thing that took a big hit on shot No. 15 was my ego, as I regressed back to my old ways of shooting wildly and missing the mark. I missed all the traps on post four, and stepped up to the last post with very little hope that I’d be able to live up to the average. To my surprise, I hit two in a row on the last posts, 22 and 23. I never thought I’d celebrate an average achievement, but I did. I was satisfied.
It was a fun and unique experience. Rodenberg was a joy to meet and work with, a gracious and humorous host. He showed me around the rest of the property, which also includes an archery range and a handgun and rifle range.
My final numbers were less than impressive, hitting only 3 out of 25 traps. But the confidence has crept back into my mind — now that I know what I’m doing, I could probably hit 15 or 20 pretty easily, right? I guess I’ll have to go back soon and find out.