June 22-29, Marengo, OH

Monday morning, after packing quickly, I was really happy to have (for once) someone else doing my job: guiding Florin out of the campsite. Amazingly enough, we were out Elysburg at 2 PM – exactly the time I hoped for. This means we are getting better and better at packing up and moving towards new adventures.

The ride to Ohio was painfully long and I am grateful for Garret’s presence – he played games with our talkative son and he probably was gladder than we were to get to our destination 🙂

We got to Marengo (after a quick detour on the highways; our GPS is playing tricks with us) at about 11 at night, which is, again, a record. We like to pull into Marengo around midnight, even later, and wake Greg (the campground manager) up. Luckily for us, he loves us (still). This time it was no need to wake anybody up (except, most probably, all the neighbours), we knew our campsite number and we pulled right in. Again I was happy to have someone else to guide Florin in (and I laughed a lot the next morning when our left side neighbours came in and I had to witness their wonderful conversation… until a wife needs to help her husband to back up a trailer in a campsite you don’t know if you have a solid marriage or not, trust me!). And as Garret already mentioned – we unpacked really quickly and it was time to relax, have a bite and enjoy the night.

Waking up in the morning I enjoyed the calm and quiet – everyone was still asleep and I could have a couple of hours for myself; a luxury I cannot afford too often, especially when camping 🙂

After an eventful classification – they managed to put me in AA for singles and doubles, based on the only shoot they had in their databases for the year (my best scores for the year so far) so we had to go through lots of fun to have me ‘downgraded’ where I belong, in class B. Then we had to go through some other layers of God-knows-what to have Florin classified, the same lady that was in PA laughing at us and telling ‘see, I told you to keep up the receipt!’… Then we had the kids classified as well and another commotion about the colour of the cards… plus the eternal question of a new shooter: ‘To Penalize or Not To Penalize… this is the question’. After about half an hour all as well, we were classified and we decided to just enjoy the day and not shoot any of the events. A smart decision, considering the amount of sleep we all had and the laziness that I (at least) enjoyed. We just squadded both Garret and me for the rest of the week and walked on the vendors’ rows. After a quick stop by Keith Heeg’s trailer, to have Phil stock fixed, we got back to the campsite. William, as usual, already found himself 2 boys to play with – the other grandchildren of the same grandmother he played at when we were at Cardinal Classic, last August. He had a blast – our camper was parked right at the playground, he could be in the playground all the time without losing sight of the trailer. While Garret and William were enjoying an afternoon of fishing with hotdogs, Cody came by and we were again the big family of trapshooters we’ve been looking forward to all winter long.

At Cardinal Centre there is no time to waste and no time to get bored: this year they added 3 more banks, to a total of 12 (the same number as in Elysburg). They can run it a bit more efficiently because they start at 8 and use all banks at 8. In PA they start at 9 and they aren’t able to use 4 of the banks until around 10 am, because of the position towards the rising sun. This way, although the shoot was larger in OH than in PA (as expected, mostly because of the weather in PA and the economy being what it is this year) – most of the days the shooting was done by 4 pm, the shoot-offs by 5 so basically you had lots of time on your hand. But with all the games, fishing, pool and excitement – each day we found ourselves around 1-2 am still talking, still enjoying the night and our friends 🙂

And then the Ohio State shoot started for us: Garret shot all events except the singles class championship, I shot everything, and Florin picked a few events for himself as well. It’s always amazing when you shoot at different venues how you need to get accustomed to the new background (pretty hard in Marengo), the targets and their setup (very different from Elysburg), the traps houses themselves, and all sorts of conditions. Now in Marengo, everything is excellent, but the background is not the easiest to shoot with. Mind you, Leo the Great (aka Leo Harrison III) was able to miss exactly 4 (as in FOUR) targets out of the 1,200 (as in ONE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED). And he probably shot all over the place, it’s hard to imagine him or Harlan picking up banks 🙂 But for us, laymen and women… well… background has something to say still. On one of the events, one of the handicaps – I could not even blame the background for my abysmal scores. It was one of those moments when nothing comes together… I looked hard at the poor targets (which, by the way, were flying slow and nicely), I could see the exact same picture I was accustomed to and… now I smoke one, now… I heard ‘Looooost’… oh, well.

On Thursday the rest of the MacDonald clan arrived – with the rain, with a terrible storm, in fact. Luckily for all of us involved the rain poured on us late in the evening – just enough to have the adults (minus the young people’s mom, aka as Alicia) trying to prepare dinner in the kitchen tent while the youngster ate the above-mentioned dinner in the trailer, and watching a movie. Now, mind you, when we left home it was pretty crazy so the only movies we had were William’s movies. Apparently, not an issue for the older ones – all 4 (Chloe, Garret, Cody, and William) watched ‘Cars’ and laughed heartily at MacQueen’s gimmicks. I was pleasantly surprised to see all of them (the difference in age is 10-11 years!) equally enjoying the movie and the evening.

All in all, the Ohio shoot was a success – I know the young ones don’t think so, I for one, was tempted to think otherwise as well… until I compiled the averages. And what do you think? While the whole week I was sure I was shooting poorer than in PA, it turned out that on average I did better…

This brings me to the morale (of course, what will be a blog entry w/o morale?!): never despair! And always look at the big picture.

So what have I learned from Ohio? Never count yourself off a race after you miss one target. Why? Because despair will only make you miss more and more and more and… well, you got the picture. This one comes in handy with the ‘never count your targets’ but we all know it’s next to impossible to do that 🙂 although we all (right?!) try hard not to.

Are there any other lessons? There always are, even when it’s hard to pinpoint specific ones. The main lesson for me would be: be happy. Which I managed to implement for 1,100 targets, but I failed miserably on one hundred 🙂 as we all know – you can’t always have everything. But you can always work hard and try to enjoy yourself. And that’s the most important part to remember: we are in this sport for the fun, for the camaraderie and friendship, for the joy. We are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to enjoy the sport – there are people out there that might be more talented than any of us, but have no opportunity to practice, to buy themselves a gun or shells, or to go out of province and compete with the best of the best.

Just think for a moment: at these 2 competitions we competed along with the best of the best in Pennsylvania & Ohio (which are probably the best 2 states in ATA 🙂 ); we had the opportunity to watch (or simply be in the same competition) with the best in ATA: Leo Harrison, Harlan Campbell, the Ohyes, our own Paul Shaw, Stephanie Sandler, the Vendels, Brad Heathly, and list goes on and on and on. We met and befriended All American juniors (Cody & Daryl and many others); we met and befriended lots and lots of nice people. If for nothing else we should be grateful for that. But there is much more: it’s our own individual progress. We all progressed from what we’ve been shooting at home to Pennsylvania, and then some more to Ohio (for the ones that competed in both state shoots). We shot at the largest 2 shoots in ATA (other than the Grand). We shot at the 2 best facilities in North America. And the experience we gained it’s priceless.

I, for one, am happy: with the progress of all of our students, with my own progress. I am happy I met all my friends again and I made some more.

What are you happy about?!

Until next time – keep your head on the stock and your eyes on the rock. And remember: See, Smooth, Smoke, ONE!


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