Saturday, August 6, 2011

Part III Becoming a Champion and why we do the things we do

Part III Becoming a Champion and why we do the things we do

Since 2004, I was reintroduced to the great sport of trap, doubles, skeet, sporting clays and many types of shotgun sports. I know, I laughed as well when my stepdad, who at that time was a friend of my mom’s, asked me if I would be interested in trying it. I laughed, and said, “Mike McIntosh, I can barely swing left and right without falling, and you want to put a loaded shotgun in my hands?”

Mike, as he started to do his hearty chuckle which I found very comforting and miss very dearly, said, “Oh Laddie, ha, ha, ha –– Yes!” To which my response was shock, with a long pause, then, “OH!”

Next thing I new, I was sitting out on the trap line, with my first shotgun, a Browning B-80, 20 gage (Baby Boom as I called her) a perfect gun to start off with; oh yeah, and a box of 100 shells.

Mike, standing over my shoulder slightly off to the side, started to explain to me this game I would immediately love, dream about, think about incessantly, and want to do all day long everyday. Mike, with his orange tinted lenses in his shooting glasses, wearing his shooting vest, his favorite pipe in hand gently wafting little puffs of smoke, all of which have seen and experienced a life in themselves, explained what to look for when I called for this clay target, this four-inch Frisbee-like orange object known in the shooting community as “The Rock,” “the Bird,” sometimes even  “Why that dirty son of a ”#%!@#;” or the infamous, “Are you kidding me — I was so on that damn thing.”

With his very watchful trained eye looking on, I called for my first bird. I could hear the machine working against the cool fall air. Out of the trap house this brilliant orange clay flew like the Chinese Bullet Train, screaming through the air at 150 MPH. I swung as fast as I could to keep up before it reached Super Sonic speeds, hammering the trigger the best I could, waiting for the ignoramus recoil of this howitzer I was barely able to hold on to, the gun went — bang. The clay screamed off over the horizon never to be seen again.

I looked at Mike and asked, “What the hell was that?” He looked at me and said, “What the hell was what?” I said to him it just went “Bang, not BANG, not BOOM, not even KA-BOOM or KA–BANG; it just went bang.” Mike laughed his memorable laugh, and said to “AH, Laddie, I am going to enjoy shooting with you. Laddie, it’s not a 50 caliber sniper rifle, it is a 20 gage semi-automatic shotgun; but it is going to treat you right.”

Then he also said several other important things:

“You’re moving too fast. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.”

“You’re aiming. You need to understand, you are not shooting archery; trap is about pointing and swinging, not aiming; if you aim you are stopping the swing and that will make you loose the bird.”

“Your shot is leaving the gun at 1200 feet per second, the bird can not out run the shot; it might feel like it from time to time, but it can’t; if you miss the bird, it is because of your own mistake.”

“If you miss the bird, it’s because of your own mistake.” I have learned since that day that ownership of your actions, whether they are on the shooting field of any kind, in the work place or your personal life, you need to take ownership of what you are doing and what you are going to do.

Moreover, I heard those very same words recently, almost verbatim by one of my dearest friends Todd Youngdahl, and then again that very same day by my dear friend, mentor and archery coach Mike Allen. When I heard Todd say those words to me I froze in my tracks and realized it was time, time to change the way I was training, time to loose the “this is going to be easier this time around attitude.”

The amazing thing is, what Todd actually said was, “It’s time to man up and own up.” What I hear was, “It’s time to own up.”

Later that day I went to the archery shop and was talking to Mike and he said…

Part IV in three days everyone,

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