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…



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 conversations 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 starts everyone was completely done 🙂

All in all – a beautiful start to 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 advice 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, as 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… 🙂


OPTA Championships, 2008

The Trapshooting Academy team performed amazingly at the 2008 Ontario Provincial Trapshoot! Alicia won the Paul Shaw doubles ladies event, then shot off three extra rounds to win the Lady Champion trophy. Frank became the Provincial Champion in his yardage group. Anthony also shot very well, including a pair of 25 straights. Well done team! See below for details and don’t forget, call (317) 633-8800 to subscribe to Trap&Field.

Trap & Field Magazine, OPTA Championship, 2008