One Small Step Toward Becoming a Lady Hunter
August 21, 2010 § 11 Comments
In the spirit of living life to the fullest while you’re able, I keep a bucket list of sorts. Many of the items on the list have to do with living a more locavore life: making cheese, canning food, butchering a lamb or a pig (or heck, while we’re at it, why not both), figuring out how to milk a goat. Another item on the list is learning to shoot a gun.
If you’re going to eat meat, then I figure it’s good to experience, at least once in your life, what it requires to put that meat on the table. Although I don’t know if I’ll ever hunt my own food (slaughtering a chicken or a rabbit seems likelier to me at this point, but one thing I’ve learned is that you never really know), I like the idea that I could if I wanted to — or I suppose, if I ever had to. My dad hunts game birds and my father-in-law hunts deer and was a collegiate target shooter, so I’ve recently become enamored of the idea of joining their ranks and learning to shoot.
Today in Lana’i, a 144 square mile island that’s part of Hawaii, I took my first step toward fulfilling this wish. I have never in my life held, let alone, shot a gun, so this was a big deal. I was excited but also nervous that I might shoot someone…or my own foot.
A cheerful guy named Sid, a native of Oahu who is somehow a 49ers fan and loves to hunt the mouflon bighorn sheep and axis deer on Lana’i, was our guide on this adventure. He drove us up to Lana’i Pine Sporting Clays, a 14-station course where sporting clays are launched to simulate all manner of birds and even rabbits getting away from you as fast as possible. He had my husband and me don vests with deep pockets to hold the shells, strapped to a golf cart a 12-gauge shotgun for my husband and a 28-gauge for me, and drove us to station 1.
Once there, Sid showed me how to handle the shotgun properly. He advised me to always “open the action” (break open the barrel from the rest of the gun so I couldn’t accidentally shoot myself or others) before carrying the gun, and to carry it with the barrel pointed to the ground (much like we were all told to carry scissors pointy-end down in kindergarten). He showed me how to load the shells into the magazine, close the gun, wedge the stock against my cheek and shoulder, hold the barrel and unlock the safety, all while keeping my finger off the trigger. And then, with just those six and a half minutes of instruction under my belt, he told me to go ahead and shoot, and he launched a clay target into the air.
Suffice it to say, I missed the first one. I also didn’t realize I should be holding the gun rather firmly against my cheek and shoulder, so the recoil caused the gun’s stock to hit me in the face, and the recoil pad jammed me hard in the shoulder (six hours later as I write this, my cheek and shoulder hurt like hell). But, despite all that, it was fun.
Apparently the “introductory course” only entails the six and a half minutes I described above, because after watching my husband and me shoot a few rounds, Sid told us to have a good time and bade us goodbye. Sid obviously has a pretty awesome job.
My husband grew up shooting with his dad, so he did really well, hitting most of the clay targets (even one that shot out of a hut like a running rabbit). I only hit 5 out of 50, though I’m pretty psyched that I hit one of the tougher targets — mimicking a bird zooming away from you at top speed — dead on. (Yeah, yeah, bad pun — but I have to say that I get these gun-related sayings a lot more now — “smoking gun”, “lock, stock and barrel”…)
So, clearly I’m not going to feed the family with my hunting prowess anytime soon. But at least I’ve now shot a gun, and I also know how to hold the darned thing so that it doesn’t smack me in the face. I can’t wait to try out a shooting range I heard about in the Bay Area with a girlfriend who also wants to learn how to shoot guns, and get what I’m 100% certain will be a vastly better shooting lesson from my father-in-law this fall.
And who knows what’s next? Maybe I’ll go up to Sonoma and shoot one of those wild turkeys we saw running around.
I’d love to hear about your fun shooting experiences…and what you think about my first one!
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