(Or how I began my journey into Sporting)

Several years ago, my 7th grade niece, Samantha, came home and declared to me and her Dad  she had signed up and would be shooting sporting clays for her school…….Although an upland game aficionado and self-proclaimed expert on doves for some 50+ years, and having shot a few rounds of trap and skeet in a previous life, I had no real knowledge of sporting clays…..So along with David, her Dad, we dragged out the old single trap attached to a tire and had at it………We quickly decided that although she could in a short time (maybe a week or two) hit them comin’ and goin’, there was no way to dust (or even chip) a crossing presentation of any kind……….So we then dragged out our 1100’s and tried to show her how the big boys could do it ….with varied success………

We arrived at Live Oak shortly for our first ever tournament with the Youth Shooting Foundation and Samantha had a large following as the only grandchild.  We all  had no clue of what to expect….We didn’t take a cart or take enough clothes and while finding our way to the first station David confessed that he’d prayed all the way down to Swansea that Samantha would hit at least one bird during the shoot……..

In spite of all our worries on Samantha’s behalf, she only dropped one bird of eight on her first station;  prayers were answered obviously as they were all incomers………..And she finished in the high thirties for a big confidence boost and won 3rd as she was shooting in a soft division as an intermediate lady with no other squad members. 

After that initiation, and the next shoot looming,  David and I and her Granpa elected to go to a “real “ shooting complex and as Clinton was next on the youth docket, we all trekked up to Clinton with our 1100’s in tow……..David purported that he could probably shoot a 90 and I espoused that an 80 would be fine with me………As we completed the course, the score card told that David and I had both shot a 42 and Samantha another 38 and Grandpa lagged in the 20’s……….So much for a promising sporting career….

But even though that was not a promising start to our sporting journey, we did pick up a few things along the way!  One is that you’re never too young or too old to learn another life skill….Two is that in order to teach someone to do something,  you have to know how to do it at least a little yourself………You don’t have to be an All American……but you do have to have an interest in learning more in order to bequeath it to someone……..Kids trust that adults are telling them the right ways to get better!   (and Samantha tolerated being the guinea pig for fledgling coaches in the making)   Lastly we learned that shooting and teaching precocious kids a shooting/life skill is contagious and life altering and certainly al lot better that cheerleading, and dance recitals for old country boys like us……….

David and I are now Level One and Level Two certified NSCA instructors and also  4h and SCTP certified.  We get a lot of personal reward teaching our team of kids or any kid who has a passion for the shooting sports……….Samantha is a Senior this year with a lot of trophies and many, many, friends along the way!   We are probably financially poorer from all this but richer than you can imagine in memories of the clays and dove shoots and kids laughter and smiling faces………..Hope to see you at the next circuit shoot!


Dan Paxton