Yee-Haa!

Or – What a great start to the Provincials!

Imagine our home club (Hamilton Gun Club) in the morning, with about 150 trap shooters around (and many more just watching)… and 10% of them being LearnTrapshooting Canada’s teams! Isn’t that nice?

It is – and it was wonderful to see the golden people all with big smiles and (at least some, I am sure, if not all) quiet nerves. We gathered relatively late – all ready to classify and squad around 10 am – and ambushed Alan @ classification. After we cleaned all the confusions about who has enough targets and who doesn’t we were ready to pull the squads and we did so in good time. People behind us were really understanding, I thought some of them will start complaining; but either they came to recognize that we are, in fact, doing a good thing for the sport, or simply they got used to our storming around with lots of gold 🙂 Whichever it is – a public and heartfelt ‘Thank you!’ for your patience, gentlemen, it is much appreciated.

After a few moments of confusion about who needs to pay what (I know, those forms can get really really scary!) we met on the west side, under our beautiful white tent. Cars unpacked, guns put together and into the rack, lawn chairs spread around – and then the humming of the day started… Everyone was excited – to shoot, to watch, to simply be out there. The whole day passed almost without a hiccup – we got pretty good scores, we got several decent ones, we got lots of converstaions along these lines: ‘Wow, lots of new people… when did they start?’ ‘In March [or May or January]’ ‘What year is that?’ ‘This year’ ‘You mean to tell me they have been shooting for less than 6 months?!’ ‘Yup’ ‘Oh, they are doing GREAT! Keep doing!’. And we got lots and lots of positive comments from lots of people… Everybody kept saying the same thing over and over: ‘This is great – what you are doing here!’.

We even tried to ignore the craziness of the doubles event – which started on the wrong foot and continued that way… the only good thing about it is the fact that when the rain start everyone was completely done 🙂

All in all – a beautiful start of the 4 days of competition. We had fun and we enjoyed our targets. We met some of our good friends and we gained more and more experience.

My lesson for the day? Don’t rush! If I could only be patient enough to remind myself that before each and every shot… 🙂 And it’s not that I don’t know what to do, because I do – but that Mr. Hyde kept popping his ugly head in my mind and disturbing my peace. So for me the simplest of advises today: Stay there until you see the target… everything I missed today could have been smoked if I only had waited to see the target first.

But I am happy – beyond the scores (which were all over the spectrum – I am talking about my own) I had a very fun day, with lots of sun and almost no rain (I got half-soaked at the end, looking for my better half, which, for the record, has been beside me 2 seconds before… and then… simply disappeared!), with lots of smoked targets and this simple realization of how much more some patience will bring to my trapshooting life, with lots of friends – what else is there to be wishful for?

I am looking forward to our Provincial Championships – remember: Relax, Relax, and… Have fun!

And, of course: See, Smooth, Smoke – ONE!

P.S. It’s clear I haven’t mastered this patience ‘thingie’ – rushing to get a few more other things done I submitted this same article twice… oh, well – I can only hope tomorrow I’ll remember to wait and see my targets. Or, like Phil Kiner says in his last Trap & Field article: it’s simple – if you can’t see it, you can’t break it. Truer words have never been spoken… 🙂

 

Thoughts (3)

Apparently I have started my own series – of thoughts 🙂

It just dawned on me – I had this thought at the back of my mind for months, I even wrote once something along the lines of this idea… when suddenly the idea became crystal clear in my mind and I had this urge to share it with everyone that might read about trapshooting on our website.

Trapshooting is the only sport I know of (you’re welcome to leave comments with other sports where this is happening) where you will have multiple generations of athletes all competing together. As parents and grandparents we might want to have our children competing in one sport or another – and trapshooting is the only one where Dad & Son (Mom & Son, Mom & Daughter etc.) can compete together. Yes, we have the Categories – and I believe it’s for the adult’s own good as well as for the younger / older generations: we encourage different generations (and Ladies for that matter) to keep competing. But at the end of the day we had different generations of people competing together. We are not bound by the age rule, we are not even bound by the physical rule that much (we have the Wheelchair category, and we all know of people with different physical disabilities which are still able to compete).

And what is so revolutionary about finally getting the idea, you’ll say?

I am not sure revolutionary is the right term – but whatever the term will be the answer is: opportunity!

It means you are not required to start at 4 or 6 (where most of the top athletes have started their training) – you can pick this sport up whenever life gives you the opportunity. And you’ll be as likely to win as any other trapshooter, providing you have the right attitude, of course. It means that we, as parents, can bring our children along and teach them this wonderful sport, and then we’ll have the opportunity to enjoy it together. It can also mean that if our kids are in the sport we can come along at any time and start learning. How many parents will pick up hockey along with their 7-9-15 year olds? Even if they do – it will mean different leagues, different ice rink times, different everything. Enter trapshooting: voila! We have parents and children coming together at the range, and enjoying a few hours of clay breaking! At the same time, on the same range, with the same targets…

It opens an entirely whole range of opportunities: because it’s not a physical intensive sport (all you need is to be able to swing your shotgun), it’s more of a mind game. You need proper instruction to start so that you can fully enjoy it and to perfect its technicalities. And from there on – it’s you and your targets. Nothing will ever stand between you and your targets: neither your age, nor your physical abilities. Eyesight may give one past a certain age a little grief, but that can be usually corrected; there are some good optometrists out there (although very few that will take the time to understand your specific needs).

Not being a physical sport it means we are not bound by age (which usually drives all the physical differences in the world) or by gender – it also means we can start in our late 40s, 50s, 60s and still be the Grand Champions. Now show me an NHL player over 40 that can still be as competitive as a young 20-something. Our beloved Maple Leafs had the oldest average age between the NHL teams and we all know what good that did to it. Not only that – but show me an aspiring NHL player that decided at 35 he’d like to play in the NHL, then started training and made it there by 40.

We can argue that NHL is a professional league and that there is tons of sifting to go through before you get to a top team. And we can argue that Categories in ATA have, in fact, the same effect as different leagues in other sports would. But none of these arguments will negate what we have in trapshooting: the awesome opportunity to compete along the top players, the unbelievable opportunity to compete along all generations and genders. Which is exactly what gives trapshooting its magic: the ability to learn from the experts and to pick up the wisdom of all generations? Everybody knows you play better when you have a Gretzky in your team. Why? Because you’ll learn from his game – and you’ll learn without visible effort, just being around him.

And that’s the opportunity trapshooting provides, that’s the ‘magic’. That’s what makes it a perfect family gathering, a perfect family common hobby. That’s what will keep trapshooting alive – the dream of a 6 year old to someday compete in the Olympics and the dream of his parents to someday compete in the Olympics. Susan Nattrass was 56 last year when she competed for the last time in the Olympics. She started 30-some years ago with ATA trap and she went after that into the Olympic track. She is Canada’s best known trapshooter athlete. And makes everyone’s dream somehow attainable. All you need is the opportunity and the passion. The rest – it will be, one day, history!

Until then – we have our own Provincial Championship this coming weekend. To all our LTS athletes competing: good luck and remember: it’s the journey, not the destination! To all LTS athletes not competing this year: come out and cheer for your friends, come out and enjoy the show!

To all our friends: we hope to see you on the range, at Hamilton Gun Club – Friday, July 31st to Monday, August 3rd. It will be a weekend full of fun and we will all enjoy our time there.

And to everyone: it’s really simple: See, Smooth, Smoke… ONE! Just that next one, that’s all!

 

Thoughts (2)

Not so long ago there were a couple of threads on trapshooters.com – one about favourite trapshooting sayings and another about inspirational sayings.

Enjoying both threads enormously I realized (once again) that our trapshooting community is a pretty close-knit one and once you get accepted you find a strong family ready to help you. As with any family you’ll have the odd members, the black sheep and all sorts of other characters. But, at the core, in its essence, they will love you as much as you love them back.

And that gives me hope that we’ll be able to revitalize this beautiful sport even here, north of the Second Amendment’s border. That more and more people will come to realize this sport is as much about beauty and calm and happiness as golf (like Michael just figured out: it’s the new golf 🙂 ). It is about traditions and family values, respect and appreciation, about outdoors and friendship. Of course you’ll find the bitter ‘old’ ones but most everyone else is shooting at the little clay ‘thingies’ for the pure joy of smoking one.

Getting me re-acquainted with a shotgun after many years of pause was, most likely, the best gift my husband gave … himself 🙂 I am sure lots of people will shoot better if they’ll get their better half to join them on the range – it is a wonderful sport, but like any other it needs lots of practice hours. And ranges here are far from being as accessible as a golf range or a soccer field or a hockey arena. Which means, most likely, more time away from home… and what family enjoys having a part of them being swept away for hours and hours at time?! But what family wouldn’t enjoy the same time doing something together, sharing the love for a common hobby? Granted, not everyone is made for trap shooting… but I am quite sure there could be more women and more young people on the range than there are today. Sounds strange to try to bring on the ‘competition’, doesn’t it? But it’s not – the future of the sport is not in the hands of our wonderful third generation of veterans and senior veterans… the future is not even in the hands of our male adults… the future lies with the children and youngsters. And what best way to bring the youngsters than to bring their moms, sisters, and girlfriends into the sport as well? This is not an entertainment sport where we can get the cheerleaders and watch for 2-3 hours a match… We are talking about day-long competitions… it takes a very dedicated person to endure hours and days of a middle-of-nowhere. So what could be better than actually transforming them from simply spectators into participants?!

And so I happily dream of a day when we’ll be able to have high-school teams of trapshooters… or collegiate competitions… like our neighbours down south. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Until then, I am going to share a few of the trapshooting sayings – for humor and for a thought before Provincials.

Shoot well!

**********************************

If you’re shootin’ bad, you need a new new gun; if you’re shootin’ good, you deserve a new gun.

It ain’t the gun that causes misses, It’s the nut on the end of the stock.

Trapshooters fear the angles and miss the straightaways.

I must have shot overneath that bird.

Ya get ’em all? Naw……I left some for seed!

There is a lot of space around the target.

If you knew what day you were going to shoot good that’s the only day you would shoot.

Look at that kid, he don’t know he’s supposed to miss.

A talented puller is someone who can throw the bird into your pattern.

I shot a perfect score. They threw 25 targets – the gun went bang 25 times!

**********************************

To break them all you should break this next one.

Just like the fishing saying ‘If it was easy, they would call it catching not fishing’. Same goes for trap. It’s called ‘trap shooting, not trap hitting’ for a reason.

How to shoot doubles: You shoot that one and then that one.

Never admire the break on the first bird in doubles!

Can you break one bird for sure?… Then you can break 100!

The best thing about winning is knowing you can.

 

Toronto International

After an extremely tiresome week (the first LTS camp and 2 BIG 50 shoots) we gathered again in Cookstown, next to the model airplanes and (a new addition to the mix) some parachutes. This time weather was more gentle (although I wouldn’t say it was a summer day, more like spring; and it’s middle of July!), and the team even bigger.

We had 2 full squads for singles – with Matthew competing for the first time in Ontario (thank you, Alireza for watching him closely – literarily) and a very brand new member of the Senior’s Team: Sacha – welcome to the team, Sacha! And welcome to the team Alex as well! I know he’s sulking he couldn’t make it this weekend, but I also know he’ll probably tie Mike up when he returns home and come with us next time 🙂 Mike, you’ve been forewarned!

This time I found a solution for not ambushing the nice gentlemen at classification / squading and all went smoother than a smoothie: positions were handed out in no time, and everyone stood in line to get their cards swiped and their money happily “invested”… life as a trapshooter 🙂

As soon as we all had our stubs in the pocket we went outside to watch the targets and wait for our squads to start – and the LTS crowd being larger than ever before time passed quickly with lots of stories (meant to tease or encourage the newcomers; although I am sure some stories might have discouraged some 🙂 – time will tell). We shot singles on the last 2 traps – and if any of our students wonders what had happened with their scores on the second trap – stop wondering. You did nothing wrong! It’s the actual trap that made it extremely hard for one to shoot targets. The reason: because of firearms regulations, Toronto Club management had to actually physically rotate the traphouse towards the left while the concrete pads were left intact. As we know from the handicap event – event a few degrees at the trapshouse make a lot of difference out there, at the target. That being said – as I explained a few times already, harder conditions made the human brain be more disciplined: you know you have to pay more attention, you know you have to “behave yourself”… and that’s how you smoke more targets! When all conditions are perfect one tends to let down the guard and think ‘oh, this is easy!’ and that’s when the ‘oops’ moments occur.

Anyhow – I was impressed by all our team members; smoke after smoke and targets disappearing in little black puffs… at one point I was actually happily laughing with Frank which made it interesting for us to mind our own targets. But we did! And I watched the other team – they were having as much fun as possible (on the exact same 2 traps). Some interesting competitions arose on the spot – it still amazes me how these young minds find a way to compete over any single thing that’s crossing their way… But, please, always remember to keep the fun in!

Although the shoot was supposed to be a small one (with most of the top shooters being away to Cicero, NY for the NY State Championship) we somehow managed to get to 15 squads of singles. Luckily for us Steve opened the third bank and so time wise we finished shooting earlier than last time!

Handicap went by with another first 25 straight – this time from Chloe who managed to step exactly in my footprints. My first year of competition, at the exact same shoot (July 16th was the exact date in 2006 and I know because I took the accomplishment as a gift for our Canada anniversary; we arrived in Canada on July 15th a few years back) I ran my first 25 straight ever in handicap, to finish with a score of 89. What did Chloe do? She ran her very first ever 25 straight in handicap, to finish with a score of… you guessed it, right?! 89!

Add to that Alireza’s first 25 straight (in singles), Anthony’s first 50 straight (to a very nice score of 99), Garret’s almost 25 (his eyes followed one of the parachutes instead of the orange dome) and now we have quite a few hats to shoot at! Not too shabby for a team that started to train (with the exception of our young “veteran” Anthony) just a few months back!

Congratulations Garret, Phil, Alireza, Anthony, and Chloe! Looking forward to the hat ceremony during the LTS Summer Games on August 29! 🙂

The morale of today’s story? Enthusiasm and dedication, discipline and attention to detail, listening to the coach and, last but not least, how well we keep the fun in the game makes it all possible. I’ll let everyone enjoy their successes. Bask in your happiness and coat yourself with it.

For all of you – come and shoot the BIG 50s this week – Tuesday and Thursday (July 14/16). It’s a nice way to gain experience in the comfortable settings of Hamilton GC.

And, of course, enjoy the summer and enjoy your targets! Smoke them all!

 

Thoughts (1)

I was reading one of the heated threads on trapshooters.com, about where ‘big dogs’ (aka the top shooters) keep their gun hold in doubles and how they shoot their first target (spot shoot vs. tracking) and I started to recall all the opinions and pieces of advice I received over the years.

There is something in the human nature that makes us ‘experts’ in every single subject – from raising horses to building houses, to educating kids, to whatever subject seems to be the center of the conversation. And then you have the trapshooters – most of them knowing better than the actual experts what you have to do.

I cannot remember any of the pieces of advice I have been given because I stuck with the main one: “don’t listen to any advice”; and I was smart 🙂 The main argument one has against one giving advice is ‘show me how your advice is producing results’. Another argument is ‘what kind of results have you ever had to prove you know what you’re talking about?’ I would argue both are not necessarily a correct argument, and does not ‘negate’ the advice.

Being a top shooter doesn’t automatically make you a good coach / instructor. Being less than a stellar shooter doesn’t mean you are not a wonderful coach. And a good instructor / coach is exactly what one needs to be in order to give good advice. A very good coach. Or a very good instructor. There is a difference between coaching and instructing, but we’ll talk on this subject another time.

As Phil Kiner mentions so nicely in his July T&F article (about Nora Ross and her beginnings) – there is one excellent advice one can receive when starting to shoot (and the only one he/she should listen to besides his/her coach): look at what top shooters are doing, ask what they are doing, then try it: if it works for you – great; if not – discard!

We are all individuals and we are all very different from each other: physically and mentally. What might be a good approach for someone could spell disaster for another. In the beginning one should stick with advice from one person only: their coach. Once you start mixing advices – it’s like mixing drinks at a party: we all know what the end result of such an activity is!

And one should also be careful when he/she decides that “coach’s advice is not needed anymore; now I can fly by myself”. Early good results can give one false confidence and parting with your coach’s advice too soon will lead to disaster. After so many years I still feel better when I know Florin is behind me, watching what I am doing. It takes away from me the responsibility of remembering what I was doing (wrong or right) in order to fix or repeat. I know that he’s there and he can correct me with one sign from the side. Sure I can go by myself to the line (and I did so many times) and sure I know what to report back – but oh, it is so much nicer when I can fallback on being just a student!

I keep reading the specialty magazines and forums and I sometimes laugh hard at what human beings can come up with! Remember – the best advice I got from a great big shooter, Nick Stamos: “You, girl, are like a turtle – keep doing what works for you and don’t listen to nobody; they don’t know you as you do”.

So keep listening to your coach (being he/she a professional one or simply a good shooter you trust) and stay with his/her advice; your coach knows you better than anyone and knows what is good for you.

And, of course, enjoy the summer – today is supposed to be one true summer day!

See you on the range (next competition: Toronto International)

 

HAHA

Hamilton Antlers & Hunters Association

Given the name of this club, one thinks you will laugh all the time there… but that’s not always true. Hamilton Anglers and Hunters Association is a wonderful small club (4 trap houses), situated in Ancaster. They are much more than a trap club, in fact they have a pond where one can fish, a handgun / riffle range (quite noisy), an archery outdoor course, a few skeet fields and what not. They host ATA shoots, as well as Skeet competitions, Archery tournaments and from time to time Cowboy shoots. All in all – it’s a nice little place to be… except if you’re looking for good scores 🙂

Why? As nice as the club is, the background is pretty hard to shoot against – add the setting of the targets (a bit low), and the vicinity to the Hamilton Airport and you got yourself a nice challenge. Again, it is one of the nicest clubs around and I am all for going to as many (and as difficult) clubs as possible in order to gain experience and learn to adapt. Managing low 90s in any event at HAHA, almost guarantees mid 90s at HGC. Rather then using the background as an excuse for their results one should not be disappointed in a lower than expected score, but embrace it as an extraordinary learning experience.

That being said – my first HAHA shoot in a while was more pleasant than I expected. After a somewhat slow start (the shoot started around 10:30) it picked up pace and ended pretty soon (4 PM we were all done). We were just a few squads, all trying to follow hard to follow targets. I, for one, had huge trouble seeing the targets flying towards west, on the first 2 traps. But I learned my HAHA lesson long time ago and I had lots of fun even with missing lots of left birds. 🙂

And how did the rest of the team faired? In my opinion – excellent! They got over the disappointing scores and by the time to shoot doubles they were having lots of fun. We all got a bit tired towards the end, with the exception of Frank who decided to clean house. Which he thoroughly did, with the focus and decisiveness we all know he’s capable of. We all managed to finish close within our averages on all 3 events and in the end that’s what is most important.

We were blessed with a very nice day – mostly sunny, mostly hot, with a light breeze: one cannot ask for more. It’s true that for the new shooters it was a slight shock after Pennsylvania & Ohio (no, still no TV / Radio to channel onto to check the on-the-ready squad or the scores), but I actually felt good being there. I believe I missed HAHA this past year and I was glad to see the shoot ran as efficiently and competently as before.

Were there any lessons to learn from this experience? Sure thing – quite a lot.

First of all – whether shooting practice or competition, try to stick with the positive emotions. Any negative feedback will hunt you down pretty soon. For one subevent I left my emotions fill my mind, and they were on the negative side… I worked hard the whole subevent to clear my mind and get myself back on track, and I managed to get everything to normal somewhere towards the beginning of the next subevent. So – always stay positive!

Another lesson – when everything else fails, fallback on having fun. This probably sounds like a broken LP already – but it’s essential. Missing is easy, and we need to work on what comes after a missed target. None of us has been born breaking 100 straight the first time – and each practice, each competition will put us face-to-face to the (dire) reality: at one point or another we will miss one target. Everybody does, sooner or later. What we do after the miss is what separates the winners from the whiners. And the winners will end up smiling and focusing on the very next target (and only that one).

And the funniest point of the day: a gentleman telling me in a couple of years we’ll have a full squad. It took me a few moments until I got what he meant: he thought we are a family, with Chloe and Garret being my own, and William growing up to fill the squad soon. After an internal ROLF I gently corrected him and explained that I ‘own’ only one of the kids, the rest are our students. He was taken aback – not sure what surprised him the most: that the young ones are not really mine or that there is a trapshooting school in Ontario?! But then William decided the gentleman’s idea was better and asked me if we could ‘get’ Chloe and Garret to be in our own family 🙂 and quickly added: ‘and Cody too!’

So after a day filled with lots of sun and warmth, some cute dogs to pet, a child totally absorbed by his ‘best girlfriend’ and some very nice coloured caterpillars one cannot ask for too much else, but a quiet dinner in the backyard, with good friends.

Wherever you are – enjoy your summer and have lots of fun!

 

Nostalgia

About a year ago, right after Ohio State shoot we came back to our home club to attend THE trapshooting competition of the year for us, Canadians: The National Championship. Every few years the Canadians (how they are lovingly nicknamed) arrive in Ontario; our club being the largest it’s where it took place.

This year they are in Calgary and we miss them dearly.

For all who love this wonderful sport here is an article about the Canadians. As you can see – they got it right: it’s about friendship and joy. Enjoy your targets!!

Marksmen gather near Calgary – Canadian championships

And… you know, right!? See, Smooth, Smoke… ONE!

 

Malcolm Gladwell

I am rarely as profoundly fascinated by an author as I was by Gladwell and his books. Might be his Canadian roots or simply his extraordinary power with the words. Whatever it is all I know is that when I get one of his books I won’t even breathe much until I’m done reading it.

That being said it is no surprise that today I got from the library his last book, ‘Outliers’, and I am almost halfway through.

And why in the peaceful world am I talking about his book here, on a trap shooting site?!

Because in ‘Outliers’ he speaks about ‘The story of success’ – how and why some get to the top and others don’t. I always knew it’s a matter of context (we are NOT born equal and I have strong opinions about this equal thing) and I always knew it’s also a matter of opportunities and hard work. But this is the first time when I see it so specifically written down in black on white: it is a matter of context (which we cannot control too much), of opportunities (which is in our power to take when they cross our paths), and – most important of all – it is a matter of hard work (which is absolutely, 100% under our control).

Doesn’t matter how talented one is – if he/she doesn’t practice he/she will loose the ‘edge’, will become just one other mediocrity. Doesn’t matter how not-so-talented one is – if he/she practices diligently he/she will become a star.

And no, going to the clubs for Sunday’s competitions doesn’t count as practice. If you don’t have the opportunity to practice a lot between competitions, a sunny disposition and a positive attitude at the competition will go a long way.

The 10,000 hour rule explains why people like Leo & Harlan can go 1,200 hundred of targets straight… The more you break them, the easier they will break 🙂 Does it sound familiar?

If you have the opportunity to read any of Gladwell’s books you won’t be disappointed: I loved all of them. The title of his second is very interesting for us as well: ‘Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking’.

So practice, practice, practice and remember: it’s always See, Smooth, Smoke ONE!