Monday, March 14, 2016

Shooting Sports - First Beginnings

It's wafer thin!

Sometimes we're warned, sometimes we're not, but in either the culinary world, the personal or business world, even the shooty/sporting world, we are often asked to try something new. Sometimes it's tough if it's something that caused some stress in our life before.  Certainly losing Barkley, I swore I'd not get another dog, then I look at Abby Normal the Labrador mix snoring on the couch and I am so happy we took that step.  But it's not always easy.

I've done a fair amount of adventurous things by some peoples standards, but to the serious thrill seeker, any more I'd be like the 3 toed sloth of the sporting world.  I got a letter in High School Girls' Track, competing in the mile and hurdles, but that was about it.  I can rappel  (I can bleed too).  I know which is the forward end of a crossbow (and  a bowling ball)  and I can fly a swept wing jet where others can reuse it. But that's about the extent of my Indiana Jones type skills.

If you put me in front of a hurdle now, I'd stop short like a recalcitrant horse.  But it's  kind of nice to know, sitting here with a knee, that after losing a good chunk of meniscus has all the support of shredded wheat, there are still many things I can do, even with fifty some years under my belt.
But I'm  still usually willing to try.  Until a family member gave me scuba lessons.  I had NO desire to take them.  For you see, I'm claustrophobic. I'm OK with the dark, but don't put me somewhere where my breathing appears restricted or my body is restricted in movement and I'm closed in. I have no idea why.  I was never traumatized by a Bustier or had any other experience that would make me fear tight places.  But the first time I went into a cave and immediately came RIGHT back up, pale and sweating and needing to breathe into a lunch sack, I knew.

So I never learned to dive.

But I did put on some leather and boots and go up and pull some G's in a Decathlon once in a while to convince myself I wasn't a total coward.

But  many people are afraid to try anything new,  My Dad was Mr. Meat and Potatoes.  Spaghetti was considered "foreign", even pizza slightly suspect.  On our birthdays though, we got to pick where we ate.  Big Bro and I both picked this little Japanese restaurant, very traditional in style, where could eat with Mom and Dad and our favorite Aunt and Uncle, the Boeing engineer.
It was created to simulate a trip to Japan, with bonsai trees, rice paper screens, bamboo, rockery and ice carvings, statues and beautiful Japanese waitresses who wore kimonos and served us in private rooms covered with tatami mats.  The menu was mostly tempura, teriyaki and sukiyaki, sushi not on the US radar yet.

My Brother and I absolutely loved that birthday outing.  Dad was probably secretly hoping someone would take him home and make him a Corned Beef on Marble Rye.
But after Mom died, we actually got him to a Mexican restaurant.  One large combo plate and two Corona's later he was on board. Now he'll try about anything, as long as meat is involved.

It's good to see him branch out.  It helped him try new things, trips, outings with other seniors after my Step Mom died and brother died.  Sometimes he has to ask for help, but at least he's  interested in trying.

Such it is when I meet people that have an interest in learning to shoot.  I hear. (1) It's hard (2)  it's expensive, (3) it's dangerous.
The answer is (1) it's easier than golf (2) not as much as some things (3)  it's more dangerous NOT to.

There is a decided benefit to learning to shoot, not just confidence, motor skills but self defense. It's  a benefit to others in states that allow concealed carry, those law abiding citizens  who may not be armed themselves (it's a given the bad guys will have guns). For you see, those that want to harm you do not know who carries and who does not. Over time, they have the decided chance of accidentally attacking an armed person, male or female, large or small. They're less likely to do it in a place where people can carry, they just don't know WHO?
So even if you don't carry to resist evil,you still have some protection by protective mimicry, as in nature, when harmless animals resemble a more formidable foe, giving pause to even the most determined of predators. I think that predators that pick their victims based on their expected lack of resistance, size or ability to fight back will think twice if they believe their small target is carrying a gun. Especially one that has the ability to put a sizable hole in them.

But in gun free zones, EVERYONE but the bad guys is a potential target.
So you've made that decision to learn to shoot for sport or self defense.  Perhaps you've even picked out a firearm. But in order to carry with confidence, you need to not only have a weapon you are comfortable with, but you need to learn with it and  practice with it. Grabbing it out of the end table, after a friend or loved one instructed you in its use one or two times, with dim light and your Adrenalin running, is not the time to be fumbling with your firearm.  The rapist/home intruder is not going to wait. Take some classes, most sporting goods stores and gun ranges have information as to where one can get "one on one" or group instruction.  There are even "ladies only" classes for the female shooter that wants the support of other women new to the sport. For the women in the audience I'd recommend the books of both Kathy Jackson -

and Lynne Finch  (a multi-talented lady I'm friends with on and off the blog)
plus a great book written for general audiences

Blogger and instructor William Keller with a great  read  for the beginning shooter:


Participating in some of the activities at the local range is also another way to dust off your skills and have some fun and fellowship with fellow shooters after you've got the basics of safety down.
I'd done self defense shooting for a few years, but I'd never tried a bowling pin match.  A number of the pistol/shooting/conservation clubs have bowling pin matches, putting your quick shoot skills against a line of bowling pins intent on standing up, in addition to great everyday, match and proficiency shooting opportunities, in an environment of safe gun handling and family oriented sportsmanship. 
If you've not tried one it's time. You shoot the pins, but watch out. If they fall over with the small pointy end forward they're a b(#ch to get off the table in the time and shots you have left.

The first time I participated in one, after watching one of the matches at a local conservation club with friends, I had been hesitant to sign up.  Frankly, I figured everyone would be better than me (check!)  I'd have to ask a lot of questions (check!) and I would have my ass handed to me by a bowling pin (check!)

But you know what?  No one cared and I had a blast!  There was support, there was encouragement and there were kindly offered tips on what works and explanation of the rules of the game.  I learned.  I learned a lot.  And I had FUN.  Had I not tried it I'd have missed out on something wonderful. The second time, I held my own and knocked over all the pins, not fast, but by golly, they were horizontal.

Take THAT, evil bowling pins!
Another fun way to spend the evening is the steel plate match, but that will be a story for another day.

One thing I notice at such events as the participants ranged from late teens to the geriatric set.  If you've ever thought of taking up a shooting sport or learning to shoot for self defense, don't let age stop you if your mind is quick and your courage is intact, even if your knees moved to Aruba and didn't send a post card.

One is never to old to learn. One is never too old to take in their hand the instrument that for them, will be the perfect medium between the spiritual and the physical, the roaring blast of a dream, and the lingering echo of their strength.
Big caliber, small caliber, whatever works best for you, but don't stay away from the range because you feel you are too old, too rusty in skills that went stale, or too fixed in your life. And definitely don't stay away because you worry about being the only female or the only beginner.

So whether it be shooting, or other sports, or just trying something new in the kitchen, a spice that's never touched your lips, a piece of game you harvested and cooked yourself.  Be a little adventuresome, get outside your comfort level and live.
In a photo album at home is a bunch of old pre-digital camera snaps of my early adventures.  It's one of those things I will grab if I have to bug out quickly.  All of those events, the ones that were sheer thrills, the ones that physically hurt, and the ones I probably looked like a total amateur.  All were important, for in them I pushed myself a little harder, learned a little more, grew closer to my friends and family.  Those adventures are out there for all of us, if we simply look.  In trying them, we are elevated above the petty fears and insecurities which they abolish and annul, and we grow as human beings.

I look at that album, the scuffs, scrapes, laughs, and near train wrecks and all are memories. Memory feels before knowing remembers. It feels stronger than knowing recognizes. Memory feels with nerves sharpened by pain, and aged like wine, until every nuance of life is clear. Every choice you have made,  every joy that you have, every memory, laid out on a wooden table for your review.

Don't miss out on making some (and take the skills you have to be safe along with you).