Random thoughts

I have probably been this tired sometime in my life – I just can’t remember 🙂

It’s a good type of tired (a friend asked me after the first day if I am ‘God, please don’t make me go back again’ type of tired or ‘God, please help me relax and go back again’ type of tired. I told her it’s the ‘God, please do something about my feet – I am having too much fun’ type of tired 🙂 I didn’t know what to expect – so I started the show without any expectations. I managed what I should manage every time in competition: go there, take it as it is, do your best, and enjoy the process. Like I mentioned, though, my feet absolutely kill me right now… and they probably will for a long time…

What did I take from our very first show?

First of all, I have been surprised (pleasantly so) by the sheer number of people that were interested in the sport. Being GTA, I thought we will encounter a larger percentage of ‘OMG, guns are dangerous’ people. We did encounter them, but in such a small percentage – it gives me hopes for the future of the sport! That was my ‘#1 myth’ busted 🙂

#2 – I was surprised (and again pleasantly so) by the sheer number of ladies interested; there were so many ladies in the ‘wow, I always wanted to try this!’ or the ‘oh, look, trapshooting’ (explaining to their children what it is and how they did it when they were younger, usually on their parents’ farm).

No surprise in the percentage of youth interested – lots and lots of them (both boys and girls) that were going ‘mom/dad, look! I want to try it – can I?’. And most of their parents being either familiar with the sport or receptive to our explanations. No surprise either in the percentage of the older generation that knew what trapshooting is.

Lots of ‘where are you located?’ followed by the ‘really? that’s so close – I must come and try it’. A few followed by the ‘oh, that’s too far – do you know any place closer to where I live?’ A few ‘oh, no, thanks, I do it on my farm’.

As for the exhibitors themselves – we are Canadians and we prove it every time: we are a nation of very friendly, polite people. Most of the exhibitors were glad someone is trying to educate people; some were reserved; some were probably openly against – but way too polite to do anything else but smile and pass by quickly. We had a few stopping by and expressing their pleasure we are there. We had a few asking if we operate in their areas (from couple hundred miles away all the way to Alberta and Oklahoma).

The show itself was very interesting – lots of different exhibitors, covering an amazing area of sports and activities. We sighed watching different promotions (like the Chilean adventure trip – filled with mountain pictures and amazing blue skies; or the diving in the Camayan tours – with incredibly clear waters); we had fun petting the huskies (an adorable 3 months puppy with wonderful blue eyes) and chatting with the Conservation people showing 2 cute owls; I could not convince William to try the wall climbing adventure (maybe next year), but we sat together and watched the Camayan video. We learned about lots and lots of camps / parks / nature schools – I had lots of the ‘wow, that would be cool to try’ moments myself 🙂

And, of course, we all cheered for our hockey team – for the first goal, the second one, we groaned together (all 30,000 SF still packed with people) when the US team marked their second goal too close to the end of the game. We had an agonizing few minutes until Crosby scored the winning goal – What a wonderful finish to an amazing weekend!

Thank you to all our volunteers – you did an amazing job promoting our wonderful sport to the large audience. To have members of our youth team every day with us helped a lot – it demonstrated once again that trapshooting is really a family sport that everyone enjoys. As usual, our Golden shirts and hats stood out everywhere we went.

Thank you to all LearnTrapshooting students and supporters that visited us over the weekend – your support and positive energy was so refreshing!

And thank you to all our visitors – thanks for stopping by, for listening to us, for showing interest, and for asking questions. We hope we picked your interest and we are looking forward to seeing you all on the range!


Olympic thoughts (2)

I knew someone will say something until the end of the Games – and I was sooooooo happy to hear Clara Hughes saying the perfect thing today. Clara is the only athlete in the whole world to win multiple medals in both Summer and Winter Olympics: she won 2 bronze medals in Atlanta, for Cycling; then she switched to speed skating and won a gold medal (2006), a silver medal (2006), and 2 bronze medals (2002, 2010). She’s not a very young athlete either – being born in 1972.

That was my mini-presentation for Clara. And today – after she won her last Olympic medal, the reporter asked her something along the lines of ‘Although you won only a bronze medal, you are still happy. Why?’

Please note somewhere her words – they are the most precious words you can ever hear in relation to a competition (not her exact words, I will try to find an exact quote and re-post exactly, but a good rendition):

I hear people talking about medals, owning the podium… I don’t think about that – I see it in terms of excellence – excellence in performance, excellence in athleticism… I train to be ready physically and mentally, to peak when it is the right moment… I was ready today and I knew I will be the best I could ever be – and that’s what I did: I gave it all and I had the best time of my life…

I am sure you have heard these ideas before – goals must be based on performance, not results. Train to be ready, to get your best form, train both your muscles and your mind. Not to gain a medal (or a trophy), but to be your best, to give your best. When you are ready, when you wake up in the morning being calm, prepared, confident, and enjoying your day – performance will transform itself into results.

P.S. Congratulations again to all Canadian Olympic athletes – and congratulations to both Canadian Bobsleigh teams and to the 5000-relay team!


Olympic thoughts

Like the Summer Games a couple of years ago, I am watching these Olympic games with a different perspective than a few years ago.

Why? I believe all the comments sports anchors make have a different vibration, I tend to try to hear something (which I very rarely do) and I also try to feel the whole experience more like an athlete, not a simple spectator. Far from me to say I feel like an Olympian (it’s a long way to being an Olympian), but I sure feel different than just a few years back.

I am not going to make any negative comments right now (I’ve been complaining for a few days already and it’s getting worse) – I choose instead to share with you one beautiful comment from tonight’s Lady Short Program: one of the former Lady athletes (I do not know them by voice and they never showed them to us, so I have no clue who said it) made this comment:

Butterflies are good! Just make sure they fly in formation.

This is such a simple synthesis of the pre-competition nerves. Nerves are good – if you don’t have them, it means either it became a chore or it became boring; none of these 2 feelings will make you give your best, so you should find a way to get back into the challenge or… find another sport to compete into. So we agree that nerves are good. Good!

Now, what do you do with those nerves? Make sure you control them – see the butterfly formation. If they move chaotically – they control you and they’ll do whatever they’ll please. And who can tell what nerves will please to do at any given time? But if you manage to figure out a way to fly them in a beautiful formation – oh, let them sing you a song, because that’s the moment you became a real champion!

So here you have it for the future: Keep them butterflies – just make sure they fly in formation!

Congratulations to all the Canadian Olympians, to all the Olympians in general! And my deepest sympathy to Ms. Rochette – she demonstrated tonight the impossible formation of the most beautiful butterfly colony… I don’t think there are words to comfort her now and all I can think of is to pray for her and her family.

My thought for tonight: Forget the ‘Quest for Gold’ – go out there and enjoy your moments, Olympians or not! Try your best, give all you have, and remember to keep the joy in it. The rest will follow…

And, of course – See, Smooth, Smoke, One


February notes

If someone can explain where did January go… please do so!

But complaining about how fast the time flies by is only going to aggravate me, I learned this one a long time ago… so – no complaints… but seriously… where did it go?! OK, kidding.

As January / February decided to bring some cold with them (not enough snow to build even one small snowman, the child is 100% disappointed) I had to postpone my well-laid plans to get out of the house and on the range, for a few practice shots now and then. Mounting the gun exercises are going ok (not phenomenal, mostly because I hate going in the basement in the middle of the night! and that’s the only quiet moment when one can focus on some personal stuff, at least in this household )… but there is a need to do something… almost anything will do.

Watching William playing tennis once a week was just killing me – I love tennis, I love playing the game and for a few years I missed all the opportunities to play. Add the Australian Open I’ve been watching like a mad-woman @ 3:30 in the mornings – so it comes to no surprise that last Tuesday I marched into the office of the Membership Director at the Cedar Springs Club and… a few minutes later I was the happy owner of a family membership. After returning home I didn’t tell William anything, he would have to get in the car and drive himself there – he’s been asking for months now to go to their pool (they have a water-slide and he was anxious to try it for the first time in his young life). But later that night I shared our new acquisition with the head coach – and this time I had no power (and no will, to be truthful) to stop the man in my life: so come 11:30 PM who’s playing tennis on the only occupied court?! Yeah, you guessed it – the happy couple. Well – now ‘playing’ is a bit too much for what we were doing. Remember we hadn’t touched the tennis racquet in over 5 years (if not seven, I lost count) so no normal person can get on a tennis court at midnight and start serving for the Provincial Championships.

But we did what they call ‘cardio – or fitness – tennis’ and we enjoyed it enormously. Of course, both of us found muscles we forgot we have… interestingly enough, like in horseback riding, we find completely different muscles. Not sure what that means, but it took me 2 days to be able to hold a pot of water with my right hand only (well… I do return the backhand with one hand only… and after the first 15 minutes Florin forgot I am the lady and started to return at his full power… so there you have it, the complete ‘excuse’).

Another interesting fact is that, like in trapshooting, tennis is (after taking the fitness form out of the equation) a mind game – you have to watch the ball, not the racquet, you have to move smoothly, but firmly, you have to move your whole arm, not the wrist. Translation in trapshooting: watch the target, move smoothly, move the gun with the body, not the arms… I wonder if all sports get to the same 4-5 main focus ideas bottom line?!

So here you have my winter blues solution – can’t go to Florida (which will be my first option!) so we’ll just go to the tennis club and enjoy some evenings of fun.

For all of you who can stay out in the cold – remember to stay warm! For those who can’t – find some indoor activities that will keep you in form.

And, most important – have FUN! Winter is almost gone anyhow, spring is just around the corner… I can’t WAIT to get back to the range

In the meantime – See, Smooth, Smoke – ONE!


Outdoor Adventure Show – Toronto, February 26-28 2010

It’s official! At the next Outdoor Adventure Show, in Toronto, February 26-28 2010, LearnTrapshooting has a booth!

Write it down and come visit us at booth #353

It took us a while to decide, but we bit the bullet (or maybe the 12GA shell), and… we reserved the spot. It’s a nice corner spot and now we are working hard with our friends to make it very special and memorable.

We are very excited and since we have less than 2 months to prepare we have started to study everything there’s out there about shows Knowing Florin I presume there will be lists to be made and checked and re-checked very soon. Luckily for me, he’s busy with something else right now, so I can just bask in the excitement for a short while.

Did I mention we are excited? OK, ok… I’m more like a child a few days before Christmas, wondering if I’ll be on Santa’s ‘good’ list

And now – back to work – remember: on February 26, 27, and 28 2010, at the International Centre, at The Outdoor Adventure Show come visit LearnTrapshooting and Hamilton Gun Club booth #353.


The Amish bread (2)

OK – we tasted it – and besides being a tad strange (it’s, after all, a strange combination of cinnamon with chocolate) – everyone agreed it’s a yummy final to our adventure.

Like I said – next time will be the lime version and after that the butterscotch.

Thanks again, Emma!

P.S. I actually missed the walk tonight, I believe I’ll have to create a new Christmas tradition and take walks every night in December to enjoy the lights!


The Amish bread adventure

A week ago we received a bag with some batter in it, along with some (curious) instructions. After following each day’s steps (most of them consisting of ‘squeeze the bag; put it back on the counter’) today was marked as ‘Today is THE DAY’. A well-known ‘secret’ about me is that I can cook, but I am a lousy baker – and the reason? I hate following instructions (my cooking goes something like this: look through the fridge and pantry and figure out what ingredients I have; gather some that I believe will go well together; add things to the pan and when it smells right stop… one of the reasons I won’t be able to make the same dish twice, even if I want ).

This being said – that’s what ‘THE DAY’ became:

William: Mommy, it says ‘This is THE DAY’

Me: Yup

William: We need to follow the instructions

Me: Yup

William: When are we going to make the bread, mommy?

Me: As soon as I’m done here

… and the ‘soon’ is suddenly 8 PM, which, coincidentally is the child’s bedtime. No problem, how long could it take to mix some ingredients and pour them in the pan (for reference, I did read the instructions earlier in the day, to make sure I have everything… ).

Me: OK, William, read the instructions.

The child obeys and reads out loud: add one cup each of flour, sugar, and milk… oops… where is our milk? Ask grandma – answer: err… I gave it to William earlier… No panic, we can hop in the car, and in 15 minutes we’ll be back home, right? Wrong – it’s one of the very few evenings when I drank a glass of wine before William’s bedtime… can we use soy milk instead? I don’t think so. The powder one? I’d rather not.

Luckily for all involved – tomorrow is PA day, so no need to wake up too early – William and I got dressed quickly and decided to walk to the corner store. The advantage? the neighborhood is beautifully lit and we get into Christmas spirit and start singing carols all the way. About 40 minutes later we are back home – with the above-mentioned milk and with extremely bright spirits – there’s nothing like a fresh evening walk admiring beautiful Christmas displays and listening to yourself caroling on top of your lungs.

Back to our baking: we add the cups and mix. Next step? Pour one cup batter in 4 Ziploc bags. Guess what? No, I do have bags, lots, but not the 12 X 12… they are on the list… No problem, I found a few replacements.

Could anything else go wrong? As it’s about me cooking – yes, lots… in this case – we follow the instructions nicely to the very last one… add 2 packages of vanilla pudding… oh… I knew I forgot something! Of course, I have pudding in the house – but not vanilla… we don’t eat vanilla, we are chocolate people. Did I mention this is cinnamon bread?! I am trying to figure what kind of bread will become and I decide, whatever happens, happens – splash 2 chocolate puddings in it… next time we’ll try the lime ones!

Finally – the batter is on the stove and the child is licking the bowl, at least the uncooked mix is yummy considering I lost him completely inside the bowl…

I’ll let you know how the Amish bread tastes with lots of chocolate – until then William has decided that no matter the taste, this is what we should make for Christmas Eve dinner. I believe he had too much fun adding and mixing the ingredients.

Thank you, Emma!

Now we have only to find 3 people to give the new batter – one we’ll keep


Random thoughts (2)

I was enjoying a quiet evening last week when Florin came from the club with incredible and sad news: one of the club members has passed away. I thought it would be one of the older gentlemen, and I was preparing to hear one of the familiar names – you know that feeling when something wrong happened and you wait for those few moments until to hear what exactly happened to pass. Then he said: John. A rapid brain-check and a stunning me: Kokoris? Yes.

I had to sit down – John was (as many trapshooters are) a person full of life, you could always be sure you’ll find a good laugh in his presence. Not only that, he was what I will call still young, definitely not a vet… I knew he’s been sick for a while, but when I talked to him last (sometimes in the summer) he was confident he was over the worst and recovering. Apparently, it wasn’t the illness that took him away, but the all-so-dreaded heart attack.

As I was trying to comprehend what our trapshooting lives will be without John’s larger-than-life attitude, I became sadder and sadder: there won’t be any jokes from him from now on, no smiles when you shoot well, no comforting pats when you shoot not that well…

May you rest in peace, John (and smoke each one from now on, up there) – I have you and your family in my prayers!

And so I was again reminded to slow down and enjoy every single moment – to tell my dear ones they are loved, to meet my friends as often as possible, and to laugh a lot. Life is so precious and we spend way too much time being unhappy when happiness is just there, at the tips of our fingers. We just need to reach it and grab it.


Yee-Haa (3) – Provincials Day 2

Or how to continue a great Championship!

The officials have been a bit slow in displaying information this year (apparently because of some technical difficulties) and so we are slow in confirming some of the amazing results of this weekend.

On Friday, at the Winchester shoot, Garret won the Junior Handicap. His very first win in his very first competition season!

Yesterday, in the Preliminaries – Chloe won her very first real trophy: Lady Handicap. I hope she’ll write something about it, the feelings related to such an event are great!

And today, in the Doubles Championship Phil won the Doubles Class D title – way to go…

Congratulations to all winners!

And to all our competing students: so far you did AMAZING! Matthew shot 300 targets in 3 days and he got better and better each and every day. Today he shot an amazing 76 in handicap, in unbelievable windy conditions. Smokey B. Alex was constantly smoking targets every day and, by the look on his face, greatly enjoying himself. Sacha discovered the joy of shooting in less than perfect conditions and absolutely loved it! Dan was our usual cheerful team member, always finding ways to uplift the spirit of our young ones.

Welcome to the 2009 Ontario Provincial Trapshooting Championships to Gyl, Doug, Alireza, Keith, and Anthony – good work!!

We are all looking forward to tomorrow’s performances.


Yee-Haa (2) – Ontario Trapshooting Championships: Preliminary Day

Or let this be the day when ‘I got my swing back’

One of my favourite movies is ‘The Legend of Bagger Vance’ – I love absolutely everything about it: the director (my #1 actor/director of all times, Robert Redford), the actors (I believe Matt Damon is one of the best in his generation, I love Will Smith to pieces, and I see Charlize Theron as the new Sharon Stone, with more style and finesse – if that’s possible), the photography and, most of all, the message. I first watched the movie long before I was entertaining any ideas about competing, long before I broke my first target. You know how a movie can impress you with one scene the best – and my ‘Legend’ scene was the one when Matt, after being 12 under par, at the beginning of his second 36 hole run gets the ‘See the field’ speech from Smith and then… while Will Smith is still talking everything blurs out and it’s only him and The Field… then even the field somehow comes closer and closer… in focus… Then, when he hits the ball – it is a perfect move, efortless and beautiful. And you hear Smith’s smile: ‘Yup, he got his swing back!’

And that’s exactly what happened to me today: I got my swing back! It is hard for anyone to understand what such a thing means, unless one had walked in these shoes…

I am unsure how to explain – for a while I have been trying too hard to break those orange targets. I still had fun (lots) and I was enjoying every moment on the range. But for some unknown reasons I wasn’t feeling what I used to feel. I was breaking targets, I even broke some very good scores – but something was missing. Like Bagger says: ‘Well you lost your swing… We got to go find it… Now it’s somewhere… in the harmony… of all that is… All that was… All that will be…’ And that’s exactly how it was – I lost something and I had no clue how to get it back.

Then – yesterday it started to click and… today… I’ll let Bagger Vance one more time to explain, he does it so much better:

Put your eyes on Bobby Jones… Look at his practice swing, almost like he’s searchin for something… Then he finds it… Watch how he settle hisself right into the middle of it, feel that focus… He got a lot of shots he could choose from… Duffs and tops and skulls, there’s only ONE shot that’s in perfect harmony with the field… One shot that’s his, authentic shot, and that shot is gonna choose him… There’s a perfect shot out there tryin’ to find each and every one of us… All we got to do is get ourselves out of its way, to let it choose us… Can’t see that flag as some dragon you got to slay… You got to look with soft eyes… See the place where the tides and the seasons and the turnin’ of the Earth, all come together… where everything that is, becomes one… You got to seek that place with your soul Junuh… Seek it with your hands don’t think about it… Feel it… Your hands is wiser than your head ever gonna be… Now I can’t take you there Junuh… Just hopes I can help you find a way… Just you… that ball… that flag… and all you are…

I learned just last year that what he’s describing is The Zone – and, for the ones who have experienced it, it is probably the most amazing feeling you can have. The beauty of the moment is indescribable. All I know is I still dream about that calm and out-of-this-world feeling.

It wasn’t a full zone what I experienced today, but it was a type of zone (I wonder how many they are…). Today I somehow managed to let the perfect shot to choose me. Instead of searching high and above for it, I became calm and I let it come to me. How I did it – I don’t know. I know before handicap I had a determination to be soft and smooth and all the targets I broke were pure smoke (with a few exceptions). Was it effortless? No, I had to work (that’s how I know it wasn’t THE Zone, that one is pure effortless), but I worked with confidence and determination. I worked with joy, knowing what I was doing and what I am supposed to do.

And then the Doubles event came – and I had an amazing moment there. We started after 7 PM, the light was awful and I was still sooo happy about finally getting the ‘click’ in handicap that nothing could have bothered me. We took the line, I called for my first pair and I had 2 very good first posts. On post 3 I suddenly remembered how last year I shot this event with Mark Edmondson – a legend of trap shooting, untimely passed away on June 20th. And I will always remember the feeling I had when I got on the line, realizing I was going to lead a squad of amazing trap shooters, me, a brand new shooter with barely 3 years of experience against their decades of excellence. Not only that, but the next day I was to receive the ‘Mark Edmondson’ Award for the most improved shooter in doubles – an added pressure on me. And I will always remember his smile and his pat on the shoulder: ‘You’ll be fine, just have fun. So I tried and I actually managed to pull off one of my best scores today, winning the event in the preliminary. Imagine my profound surprise when, next morning, for the actual Championship Event – who’s walking the line with me? Same squad, same Mark Edmondson and his friends. Now the pressure was tripled – now they knew I can do it, I had to do it – again! Same smile, same pat – and after the first round, when I shot a not so impressive 43 he looks at me and tells me in a matter-of-factly tone: ‘I know you can do better – how about you do it?’ Somehow, from his tone and attitude, all I gathered was no shame but an amazing strength – and I broke an amazing 48 on the second round. He was happier for my score than I could be. And that evening I found out we were two ladies with the same score and it would be a shoot-off. As luck would have it the other Lady was Cheryl Stiby, a good friend of Mark and a wonderful person herself. Mark came to both of us before the shoot-off and told us to make him proud. Then, at the end of 3 hard rounds of shoot-off, he hugged both of us and said we made him proud, indeed.

And back to today, a year later – I am sitting on post 3 and all these thoughts come through my mind in a flash… and I am suddenly flooded with a swirl of emotions… and in a panic, I am looking for an idea on how to channel all this energy into something positive. I cling to the first one that comes through my mind: I am shooting these targets for him, for Mark. And although I did not calm out, there is a change inside that makes me focus and smoke the next 50 targets. I lose the edge of all the emotions exactly when I got them (on post 3) and the relaxation brings also a sudden calm. I am happy and I am still sad at the same time. But I know I can do it because I know there are a few people out there (walking here, on Earth, or up there, in Heaven) that believe in me.

Or, as Bagger Vance put it so eloquently:

Yes you can… but you ain’t alone… I’m right here with ya… I’ve been here all along… Now play the game… Your game… The one that only you was meant to play… Then one that was given to you when you come into this world… You ready?… Strike that ball Junuh don’t hold nothin back give it everything… Now’s the time… Let yourself remember… Remember YOUR swing… That’s right Junuh, settle yourself… Let’s go… Now is the time, Junuh…

For all of you out there looking for a lost swing: you are not alone… just play YOUR game… and let it come back to you. Now’s the time…