I found an interesting quote somewhere:

Don’t measure yourself by what you accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.

I am not sure if I agree or not, but I found it an interesting notion for the moment and I’ll continue to analyze it until I can file it under one of the categories… Most of us might have a good idea of our own ability, but there are definitely people out there that think too much or too little of their abilities – and then what? Even if you know exactly what you can do – wouldn’t it be frustrating to not be able to accomplish all you want or need? Especially knowing you could, given the context would have been on your side.

Maybe that’s the message – get the context on your side. I know better than to decree it as a pure truth – sometimes it’s impossible to do what you want/need, sometimes the context is beyond your control. But I would also be one to recognize the North-American society (the Western societies in general) as one of the opportunities.

And so I start my day – wondering about this quote… it’s actually a nice feeling to be able to wonder

If I ever make up my mind about the quote I’ll let you know. Until then – I’ll try to accomplish as much as I should


Random thoughts

I am reminded almost every day that life is precious and we should never take one second for granted.

I met lots of wonderful trapshooters during the past years – and unfortunately, I also heard of lots and lots passing away. I knew very few personally, but the threads on are always rich with amazing support for the ones that lost a loved friend or family member.

Almost every week there will be a mention of yet another trapshooter that’s now playing in Heaven(ly) competitions…

And every time I read about them I pray for their family and friends and I also remind myself how grateful should I be to ‘be alive and well’ like Kenny Chesney says in his last song.

This past summer I have been touched more personally by this type of loss – first when Mark Edmonson lost his courageous battle with cancer, then more recently when Indiana’s John Gould died quite suddenly… While I wasn’t a close friend to any of them, I just loved being around both. Mark had an amazing personality, and Mr. Gould was for sure a figure on the range. We met Mr. Gould back in 2007, in Michigan, and every year we will chat at all the shoots we found together (Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania)… this year I was wondering at the Cardinal shoot where would he be (it’s impossible to miss him and for the whole week I could not see him), just to come back home and find out he’s sick… and in a matter of weeks, he was gone…

I was sad (still am)- now I’ll never hear their laugh and I’ll never admire the turquoises (Mr. Gould was wearing amazing silver/turquoise jewelry… and this is a very less-known fact about me: I am quite crazy about jewelry and I am completely nuts about turquoise, they are my absolute #1 stone; if you’ve ever seen me in one of those Trade posts up north, where they display native jewelry…) – now whenever I’ll go to one of the Ohio / Penn / MI shoots and walk the vendor lines I am bound to remember Mr. Gould (one of the vendors sells the type of silver/turquoise jewelry he used to wear). And whenever I go to Hamilton GC I will remember Mark…

This sport being one with a very high age average I am also bound to be touched by loss every now and then. A constant reminder of what friendship should be: a gift we handle with care, we wrap with emotions, and we give with love. A constant reminder that life is to be cherished for the present moment, and not waited around for the next ‘perfect’ moment. A constant reminder that we are not forever, but our memories are and what we do with our life (in those daily little moments) is important, because that’s what we will leave behind us: memories.

So the task for today is simple: find a loved one and tell them you love them. Then repeat

And, of course, make sure you See one, Smooth to one, then Smoke one!



Amazingly enough, it’s already October – even worse: halfway through October!

I have been away from the range for a long time and with the cold weather setting in so early this year, I believe my range days are over until spring. I am not a fair-weather person: I don’t mind wind and rain, not even snow – but I do have a medical problem with the cold and so I prepare for hibernating.

How does a trapshooter hibernate? Well – the ones that can afford it (time- and money-wise) will move down south, mostly around Silver Dollar (FL) or in Texas / Arizona. The ones that didn’t reach the retirement phase yet will have 2 options: either do nothing over the winter or do something! OK, ok – I’m getting there… stay with me.

Last year I kind of took the first route – doing more or less nothing. Sometimes it’s simply impossible to stretch the day anymore and that was my last winter – un-stretchable. But I wasn’t very happy with this ‘doing nothing’ activity so this year I plan to do something. What? Here comes in handy to have the coach close by 🙂

For a start, I would like to set up some time every day to mount the gun. Nothing else – just mounting the gun. It’s important to get dressed like you’ll do over the summer and just do the usual task of mounting the gun 1,000 times… And what in the peaceful world would you achieve with this? Oh – a lot, in fact. First of all – you’ll develop (keep active) the proper muscles. Then – you’ll also develop muscle memory. And that will build your confidence – once you return on the range you took out the ‘do I know how to mount my gun?’ question. Of course you do, you never stopped doing it! And having the confidence – as most of you know – is 90% of the game 😉

Once I figure out how much more time I will have in the day – I will move on to practicing my swing. And with that – practicing being patient – which will be funny to watch, I’m sure. If you have a person that doesn’t have too much time to start with… how will you make that person practice patience?! I am not 100% sure yet, but I’ll keep you up-to-date on my progress.

Now that I have shared my plans with the world – I will feel obligated to follow it… or so I hope.

Until next time – if you are out there: be safe and break them all while having fun. If you started to hibernate – maybe you can build yourself a plan to keep in touch with your best friend (I’m talking about the shotgun).

And whatever you do – keep the fun in it!


The Coach (2)

We heard/knew from various sources that this year, at the Grand, Florin has received the ‘2009 ATA Shooting Coach of the Year’ award.

And yesterday it came in the mail – a box with Florin’s name on it and with another (smaller) box inside. And inside this second box – the award itself, one of the Tilden desk clocks.

2009 ATA Shooting Coach of the Year
Florin Marinache
“Coaching is an action,
not a title and
actions result in successes.”
I admired it for a while and I keep reading the quote on it… the more I read it, the more I wonder how it came to be on this award.

It is actually holding so much truth…

That’s exactly how I would define his past few years: as a continuous activity, a never-ending action. It is tiresome, sure, but it led him to this wonderful success: not the ‘title’ (how they so nicely define it) but the LearnTrapshooting teams and family. I am again and again awed by his energy, by his new and fresh ideas, by his drive.

I wonder sometimes where will we be in a few years, how will all this evolve.

I have high hopes – and I am prepared to help him pave this wonderful road to success: because that’s exactly what we are doing – building from scratch. I don’t know all the answers and I am sure the process will be sometimes perceived as a hardship – but I am sure the success will be sweeter that way.

All I am sure of right now is that we are not alone – and we again thank all and every single person that helped in one way or another. Even a good word is a great help, trust me! We need more than just words, for sure, but we are as grateful for the encouragement we received throughout the year.

And a heartfelt thank you to whoever nominated Florin for this wonderful award. It is still a bit surreal – as the recognition comes from the highest level in our association… it is an honour and, as far as I know (I will check in the near future) it is going for the first time to a Canadian Coach! We are incredibly happy, honoured, and humbled. I am extremely happy his efforts have been awarded at such a high level – and for those who know us it will come as no surprise that I am not referring here at the award (or not only), but at the actual recognition of his actions.

So – as an LTS athlete, be proud: your Coach is THE BEST 🙂



Or how to surprise someone 🙂

I love surprises and since I figured out how the actual Fairies and everything works I have been genuinely surprised a very few times in my adult life. One reason could be that I am usually the one setting up meetings and get-togethers, so it’s really hard to get me out of our house w/o a good reason or w/o becoming suspicious.

This being said, I got into the car last weekend with no other expectations than to have lots of fun with the core LTS team, at the farm. I was driving (Florin likes to take advantage of my driving now and again) and because everyone in the car was purposely looking for the right number, of course, we just zoomed by… a U-turn and a few moments later we were all happily jumping on the trampoline, getting black walnuts off the lawn, and starting the biggest bone fire I ever saw.

I was totally and completely unaware of anything ‘suspicious’ – until the very last second when Dan started ‘the speech’. Even then… the very first moment I thought something strange is happening was only when I realized he’s reading the speech… which meant he has prepared the speech in advance… which I had no idea what meant.

But I can tell you what – the awards Florin and I received from the 2009 LearnTrapshooting team have now forever a special place in our hearts. They are the most hard-working awards we ever received (OK, Florin probably can say that about his 2009 ATA Shooting Coach of the Year award as well), and the sweetest rewards we could have ever received. We didn’t need an award to know we are appreciated by our students, don’t take me wrong! But to actually ‘see’ the appreciation went beyond my expectations. I knew Florin is loved by all his students and I had no questions about the respect he raised in every soul he touched – because he has a magic touch – and I felt the love as well. But I keep the beautiful award on my desk since and I find myself smiling at it – there is a beauty in that flying Canadian flag that the people we become to love in so little time understood. For me that’s even more important than everything – the fact that you, our LTS teams, understood us, understood what the school means to us, understood what Canada means to us.

I will bug Florin to get a few pictures of these 2 beauties to post here – for everyone to enjoy.

Until then – we thank the team again – for all their hard work, dedication, and for thinking so sweetly of us. We are continuously humbled by your actions and we are as proud of your performances. We are so lucky to have been surrounded by so many great athletes!


2009 Season

Well – here we are, at the very end of the 2009 competition season. 2010 will start in exactly 2 days (on Tuesday, September 1st).

We had a wonderful time in Marengo, OH. The weather was kind of cooperating and I was lucky enough to finish one of the days just 2 minutes before a pouring rain with great lightning came over.

Besides weather – everything else was wonderful: we met a few friends from last year that we had missed during the Pennsylvania state shoot, we had lots of fun competing, and we had a great time using the bunker traps. Unfortunately, it took me until the very last day to get back into International form, but I was really happy I remembered everything coach taught me last year (yes, it has been that long since I shot bunker). You know how it is – now I only have to practice some more

The actual competition – Cardinal Classic – was absolutely great: excellent organization, nice people, good scorers, and trap helpers, and amazing attendance. The shoot was up 23% from last year and gained 6 point recognition in just 4 years. That is in itself a great accomplishment and both Mr. Fishburn and Ohio Trap Association should be congratulated.

And what did the LTS teams and students do? What they have learned from the coach: they had fun, they enjoyed their targets and they had better scores than before. It is something that only after you attend such a big competition you can fully understand: good competition makes better athletes. The better your ‘opponents’, the better you’ll become.

And that’s how I believe everyone shot their best to-date score, that’s how my competition average was the highest for this year, and that’s (just one of the reasons) why we’ll come back given a chance. I, for one, had lots of fun – I managed above-average scores in all 3 specialties, I actually managed some good results in handicap – and I now feel confident that I am on the right track with my handicap (my biggest struggle for the year). I finally understood (as you all know from my Provincials’ blog) what I was doing wrong and – what else is new? – all I need to do is remember before each event that I need to be patient. Yeah, patience is the name of my Nemesis.

I was fortunate enough to be in the same squad with very nice people I shot before – and in one of the events, it helped a lot. The Ball cousins are a pleasure to shoot with – they bring such happiness to the range.

And that’s my lesson for the competition: be happy. If not for you, then for the others around you. Happiness and joy are contagious. Unfortunately so is grumpiness – and the only way to counter-act is with lots of laughter and joy.

All in all – we had fun. We had to manage the Buckeye’s Olympic bunker in the morning and evening, and we had the traps for ourselves 2 full days before and after the competition. We met even more people that way and we shot with some of the juniors from the National team. We made new friends and we had the pleasure of spending time with lots and lots of people. And that’s the beauty of this sport: the community. The larger the community, the better will be for the sport’s associations and for the athletes themselves.

I am so happy to see the many young people competing down there and I have high hopes for the number of young people that will compete up here as well.

Thank you to all our sponsors and supporters – we made it such a successful year with your help and encouragement!!

Thank you to all our athletes – your dedication was amazing and your hard work was humbling!

Thank you to all the parents – through your efforts we have a huge number of young trap-shooters eager to go out and compete.

And not last – thank you to our Head Coach, Florin. His efforts and dedication brought many sleepless nights, but nothing can make him happier than seeing his athletes performing so wonderful (competition or not). And, to crown it all – he received a wonderful recognition from our governing body, ATA: he is the recipient of the 2009 ATA Shooting Coach of the Year.

Congratulations to each and every single person that made this year such a success! Thank you all!


1st Annual LTS Summer Games

After our amazing start of the season in May, we have a long time ago decided we will finish the season on the same happy note: with the LTS Games. After long and numerous conversations we decided to have it open for everyone and with the summer being as non-summery as possible we pushed the whole event right where it should have been: the very last weekend of August.

We prayed hard for nice weather (I suspect we had one nice weekend over the summer: the Provincials’ one) and we started to get ready about a month in advance. Posters went up, word of mouth was spread, lists were made, more lists were made, friends asked how they can contribute, more lists were made and finally the eve of the Games downed upon us.

With the weather forecast getting a bit better (from 100% rain to 80% down to 60% the night before), Dan and Florin proceeded on a bitterly cold and cloudy afternoon to the club, to at least get some tents up, tarp & all… just in case the sunshine boy (aka as Matthew) couldn’t save the day.

Luckily enough (strange way to define your luck!) it poured Friday night – and you won’t believe it: the moment Florin entered the house the sky opened. Of course, we kept praying through the night… and after a mere 3-4 hours of sleep the morning came and I have to be honest: I was completely afraid to open my eyes and check the light… sure enough, when I summoned enough courage I was greeted by gray clouds. My only hope was the temperature – which was decently above 17 and gave me hope for the rest of the day.

Having just a few hours of sleep meant I had trouble getting everyone ready in time, so we pulled into the west side later than we wanted… and what a sight! All our covered area was flooded! We will not be soaked from above; we would be soaked from the ground… Trapshooters being outdoor people when someone wished we had a shovel ideas started to flow and in moments we had a team literarily digging a trench, a team pushing water with all our means, while Perry smartly went on the other side and returned with all the shovels he could gather. In about half an hour, someone else smartly mentioned we could have moved the white tent… yes, it would have been easier if we would have had enough people in the beginning… now, the area where the tent could have been moved was half-flooded as well so we kept brushing the water down the nice trench. Plus – the kids were so happy to help with building the dam, and splashing in their own ‘Lake Ontario’… Taking pity on us, dear Ken came with the tractor from the other side and dumped 3 loads of gravel – saved by Ken! We now had clean and nice grounds and when people start trickling in were all exclaiming ‘What wonderful luck to have no rain’… yeah… lucky…

But, hey, that’s how teams are built, isn’t it? Not that our team needed more building, we were doing great before 🙂

Anyhow, that’s how we’ll probably remember our first Summer Games: as the Flooded Games!

And what do you know? By the time everyone pulled in and our grounds were ‘steppable’ again even the sun started to shine above us! Saved again by Matthew!

With all the excitement we couldn’t really start when we had planned but nobody was in a real rush, so we proceeded nicely to shoot the first event – 50 singles. We had 4 full squads, 3 of the LTS athletes, and 1 of our supporters, friends, or parents. The forecast kept most the non-LTS trapshooters away from the range, and it wasn’t much we could do about that. The second event went by as smoothly as the first one – with the non-LTS athletes having probably their most fun, as almost none of them ever shot handicap!

And now, with the competition well behind us, we could continue the fun. And so we did: first, we had our hat ceremony for all the first 25 and first 50, followed by the trophies and awards ceremony. We cut the cake for our coach (no, I did not take pictures of the cake when I made it so I cannot show you the beauty!), we presented the 8 trophies and the 2 special awards. I can tell you none of the winners expected to win (maybe Phil had a slight idea) and you could see the surprise on their faces.

Ok, Ok, no more suspense, here is the list:

  • Open Champion: Dwight Cowan
  • Open R/U – Matt Ciufo
  • Open 3rd – Dorin Stanciu (with his personal best in singles, shot with his duck shotgun!)
  • LTS Champion: Phil MacDonald
  • LTS R/U: Alireza Aliabadi
  • LTS Junior: Chloe MacDonald
  • LTS New Shooter: Alex Lazich
  • LTS Lady: Sacha Kucey
  • ‘Dwight Cowan’ Trapshooting Excellence award: Matthew VanHaaren (for dedication and commitment) & Alex Lazich (for the most improved new shooter)

Congratulations to all winners!

And congratulations to everyone – as I was saying in a previous entry, we are grateful for all your support!

The day was not done and almost nobody wanted to leave – and for good reasons, we still had to play the games. We proceeded to a Buddy shoot with our own rules (after 10 shots at 16 yards we moved everyone to 20 yards, the teams were most of them still equal). After all that fun, everyone was still ready for more target smoking, so we had a shoot-out at 27 yards. Now imagine all our 19-20 yarders focusing hard at 27 yards! And imagine a few of them going on for 5 targets! Next year we’ll have to have trophies for the games as well 🙂

I believe everyone had lots of fun and we had a successful end of the season get-together.

In a few days the 2010 target year starts – and with it new hopes, new goals, new wishes. Remember to set your goals appropriately – it is all well to aim for the moon if you understand that just landing among the stars is as good. If you need to reach your goal to be happy, make sure your goal is reachable. And make sure your goal is performance-related, not results-related. Your results will go up and down (there is only one Dave Shaeffer), but your performance should be (like Dan figured it out) a steady slow climb. It’s performance you want to improve – and the results will improve automatically. Always remember: it’s better to have 23 smokes than 25 chips… always!

And how do we get the smokes? Oh, com’on, you should know by now: SEE, SMOOTH, SMOKE… ONE!



As you journey through your trapshooting adventures you’ll meet lots of people. From my personal point of view, this is the best part of trapshooting: the community and the tons of friends you end up with.

Most of the people you’ll meet are amazing ones. You’ll find the odd one from time to time, you’ll most likely find some of the grumpy ones (note: the better you shoot the grumpier some become); but I believe on average the trap shooters are extremely nice people. And I mean EXTREMELY!

As you meet people, make sure you are not prejudiced. It is probably the easiest attitude: to fit someone in a category, to stamp them with a label, based on a lot of circumstances that might or might not reflect reality. So try hard to keep your mind open.

The main observation I made over time is that shy people pass as arrogant people. And I understand very well (because I am shy, believe it or not) how that might happen: they don’t know how to approach strangers, so they keep to themselves… and suddenly people think they don’t want to talk to them. And what’s the easiest reason to put behind? Of course, they don’t want to talk to you because they feel superior. Well… that says a lot about how you feel (remember Eleanor Roosevelt’s “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent”…). But nonetheless, here you are, labeling someone as arrogant just because it didn’t return your ‘hello’.

It is hard not to take everything personally, another feeling/attitude I understand very well. But if XYZ didn’t smile back to you when you met on the range in the morning it’s most likely because he/she was

  • preoccupied with the next event
  • preoccupied with some personal problems
  • preoccupied with some business problems
  • worried about the weather

… so just relax… don’t judge a person by the first meeting… or the second meeting… or… even better: don’t judge it at all!

Over these past few years, I have been pleasantly surprised by some people and I have been less than pleasantly surprised by others. In the first case – I judged people and thought they were grumpy or too competitive or too arrogant to talk to a newcomer as I was. In most of the cases, I found out they were simply preoccupied or, in some cases, they were simply waiting to see if I am serious about the sport or not. In the second case – we all have our own negative experiences and we all must deal with them. Enough to say that I believe the positive experiences are exceeding the number of the negative ones. The balance is always tipped in favor of positive. At least for me.

Another personal observation: The main reason some people are grumpy is a (mistaken if you ask me) perception that getting friendly with your competitors will take the edge of your excellence. I am not arguing the idea; I just feel that life is hard enough and short enough to fill it with unknown enemies when you can fill it just the same with as many friendly faces. And, besides, being the energy ‘magnet’ I am I would rather surround myself with positive emotions – starting with my own.

And that’s why I keep the memories of each shoot as a combination of performance, results, and emotions, in more or less the same parts. I believe that emotions impact performance which, in turn, impacts results. It’s kind of a golden triangle and getting on the negative side of the emotions will have a huge reflection on both performance and results.

And that’s why I prefer to see each trapshooter I meet as a friend (until they prove differently, at least).

And that’s exactly why I feel the community as a family. I feel lucky to have an extra family – my trapshooting family. I feel privileged to share my “adoptive” family with my real family. I feel honored to count in my extra-family amazing people.

I can only hope I will always make them proud and I will always be worthy of their friendship.

And I am amazingly glad I will meet some of them soon, in Ohio. And not any – but the best: William’s ‘other Mom’ (Gen) and older ‘brother’ (Cody). We have not worked out the translation of these relationships beyond William, we are just happy to count them as our good friends from down south.