Exhilarated nervousness. That’s what I felt as I rested the base of the shotgun against my shoulder and cozied my cheek up to it for the first time.
This was the scene at my first clay shooting lesson during a recent visit to Barnsley Resort near Adairsville, Ga. (Disclaimer, y’all, the lesson was comped as part of a visit I recently did to the resort for a future Urban Lux Magazine article.)
I have to say that I was pretty pumped about the lesson. Now, mind you, this was only my second time shooting a gun — ever. But learning how to shoot guns of any kind has been on my to-do list for ages. Guns have always intimidated me, because I don’t know how to use them. And since, I've always figured that knowledge is power, which is why I signed up for this lesson.
On the day of my lesson, I met up with my instructor, Skip, and we hopped in his truck to head out to the part of the resort property designated for shooting. (FYI, Barnsley is known for its Caesar Guerini Wings & Clays School and its shooting facilities.)
Skip was a gruff but humorous guy from New York, and I loved every minute of working with him. First, he went over gun safety basics (i.e., don’t point it at anyone whether it’s loaded or not, and don’t trust the safety just cause it’s on).
Next, he had me talk my way through shooting a target. I yelled “pull,” he’d release the target, and I’d point to the target as it went through the air, yelling “bang” when I thought I should shoot it.
After doing that a few times (my heart was beating out of my chest in anticipation of actually shooting the target), Skip positioned the gun on me, and I was ready to shoot. I actually hit the first target! More importantly, the recoil from shooting the gun wasn’t as bad as I’d thought it would be. From that point on, I loved every minute.
We did a few more point and shoots, with Skip changing out the shells for me after each shot, and I was blown away — ha, ha — by how easy it was to hit the targets. Next, I actually got to track the target over an arch in the air and shoot it. And again, I continued to hit the targets. I realized that the key was making sure that your movements are smooth — and that you keep your eye on the target, not the barrel of the gun.
The best part of the experience was the instant gratification that I felt when I’d hit a target and Skip would congratulate me. After an hour, my shoulder and cheek were a little tired, but I was already thinking about when I could get back to Barnsley to take another lesson from Skip and try this “fit” again.