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/rifle range (quite noisy), an archery outdoor course, a few skeet fields, and whatnot. 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 than 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 the 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 the west, on the first 2 traps. But I learned my HAHA lesson a 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 the 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 at 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 to 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, fall back 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!


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