“I wasn’t lucky enough to be born in the South, but I got here as fast as I could.”
Since I’m probably going to be back home for a good long time after graduation, I want to take advantage of all the uniquely Southern things that North Carolina has to offer. I want to learn how to dance the Carolina Shag. I want to figure out how to roast a pig. And I want to get better at shooting guns.
My dad and I went out to Clayton on New Years Eve to shoot sporting clays. He’d already been twice with my sister, and from the pictures, it looked like they had had so much fun. We signed up for a private lesson with an instructor named Chuck, who was kind of like Yoda with a shotgun. He fitted me for a 20-gauge and took us out to the clays course. After an exhaustive lesson in the history of shooting and the various games of target presentation (trap, skeet, and sporting clays), Chuck told me the three things I’d need to know to hit the orange clay disk that would soon be flying through the air.
First, I had to focus. The only way to hit the clay is to actually look at it. See the target – step one.
Then, I had to move. Shooting is not about athletic ability, but a shotgun is a dynamic weapon. Move the gun to the target – step two.
Finally, I had to believe. I had to look at the target, move the gun, and trust that my shot was going to go where I wanted. Pull the trigger – step three.
I had been prepped for the profundity of Chuck’s instructions. I hadn’t been briefed on just how difficult it is to actually hit the target, how frustrating it is to fire and fire and fire and miss and miss and miss, how embarrassing it is to unload the gun incorrectly and have the empty shell spring up and tangle into your hair, how exciting it is to finally nick a disk, how satisfying it is to blow a target to bits.
Shooting was really fun.
Now, I’ve got no plans to actually hunt anything alive. Frankly, I’m not much for nature, and the idea of getting up at four in the morning to go sit in a tree and smell like deer pee has absolutely no appeal to me. I don’t need to kill ducks or pheasants or elk – what have they ever done to me? I probably won’t be profiled in the News & Observer’s Carolina Outdoor section anytime soon, unless they start doing stories about Chicago-born girls learning to shoot. Right now, my camouflage Notre Dame ball cap is country enough.