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Old February 27, 2001, 01:37 PM   #1
Dave McC
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Join Date: October 13, 1999
Location: Columbia, Md, USA
Posts: 8,812
Went to the trap range today. Weather was better than we can hope for this time of year in Md, not much wind and sunny, high 50s. So, it brought out some folks I hadn't seen yet.

At 54, I was the youngest shooter waiting around by quite a few years.Most of the shooters were old enough for Medicare.
And as we waited for the trap man to top off the racks, we talked.....

Guns were compared,and since most of these guys knew each other, some banter happened.A gent of perhaps 70 spoke to me," How do you manage to get here on a weekday, young man? You should be working", with a smile.

I told him I was retired, and mornings were a good time for me to waste some ammo and time. The talk moved to the guns, various ones stacked in the racks. There were a couple of Berreta gas guns, a pair of Browning singles, one Citori, my 870 Trap, a Model 12,an 1100, and a Savage pump dressed up with a lace on cheek piece and an optical sight. The frail looking man with the last one wore thick glasses and moved really slowly on the one foot he had left. We had enough for two squads,and I elected to shoot second squad as the shooters asked if anyone was in a hurry. So, I settled in and watched the geriatric gents move up to the line.

Now, I admit humility isn't my strong point. It takes heavy company for me to think I'm past my level on most shotgun endeavors.Here, I was past it in spades...

The banter ceased as the line started. It took a complete station before the first clay sailed away unmarked. I started paying close attention....

I wasn't counting hits, I was counting misses. Out of the 125 rounds these geezers fired, there may have been 15 misses.

Sitting on the bench next to me one guy mentioned that Soandso wasn't up to his normal scores. I stated that all of them were pretty good, and the gent told me that the old guy with the optical sight had his left eye removed a few months back, and was learning to shoot righthanded after 60 years of shooting leftie.The foot had been amputated summmer beofre last, according to my source. Diabetes...

I sat surprised and thoughtful. Here's a guy in a shape that NONE of us would wish to be in. Crippled, half blind, ailing, this gentleman was doing something he loved,and doing it not at all badly by any reasonable standard.Courage and dedication are two things that count with me, and one of life's lessons came in an unexpected way and time.

The round finished,the first squad moved off the line,and the banter started up again.

I grabbed my 870 and earmuffs, and stepped on up. As the squad shot, I concentrated hard and kept my end up, shooting better than usual.I finished up with 21, and as I left the line one of the oldsters gave me a tip on stance.

The first squad went back, and I didn't count this time, I watched and learned.

So it went, until it was time to pick up Daughter from school,and return to Daddying. On leaving, I stood next to my car and said a prayer of thanks.Sometimes we forget how lucky we are, and how courage is often hidden and unnoted, like other treasures....
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Old February 27, 2001, 02:21 PM   #2
Correia
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Join Date: December 3, 1998
Location: SLC Utah
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Well said Dave.
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Old February 27, 2001, 02:43 PM   #3
PJR
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Join Date: May 31, 2000
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Dave:

Super post.

An elderly gent comes out to our league shoots on occasion. He is a very old. White shirt, black pants way too high on his waist, suspenders. Old style frame glasses, balding, parchment skin, slightly stooped, rheumy eyes as he shuffles toward the trap line barely able to hold the well-worn Winchester model 12 he had taken from a creased leather case a few moments before. When he arrives at the line he takes a shell from the pocket of a threadbare shooting vest, loads and calls for a bird in a creaky, squeaky voice the scorer can hardly hear. The bird departs, his eyes track, the gun swings smoothly with an economy of motion and the clay becomes a smoke ball.

He does this 25 times, missing maybe one or two, sometimes none. Then he shoots the next 25 with the same results. Then you see something you didn't notice at first. His vest is covered with faded patches from competitions of long ago. There's are 25, 50 and 100 straight patches all of a much older style, probably earned before I was born. He might have been an old man but for those few minutes on the trap line, he was young again.

He walks to the club house, recases his gun and quietly leaves. His son meets him in the parking lot, tenderly taking the gun case and leading his dad to the car.

May he shoot forever.

Paul

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Old February 27, 2001, 02:47 PM   #4
VictorLouis
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It does tend to bring things back into focus. Poignantly told. Thanks.
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Old February 27, 2001, 07:27 PM   #5
Ledbetter
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Lest ye forget

Yes, but there's a lot of cranky old farts out there too.



Regards,

Ledbetter
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Old February 27, 2001, 09:59 PM   #6
K80Geoff
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Join Date: December 20, 1998
Location: NE Pennsylvania
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Old Farts!

"Yes, but there's a lot of cranky old farts out there too."

But only on trap fields.


In my club exist many "experienced" shooters. The veterans class is one of the most hotly contested at monthly shoots, and the Super Vets are no slouches either.

I know a couple of shooters in their 80's who attend every month and never seem to have a problem even in the cold and snow. Wonder what they eat for breakfast?

Maybe because they are out actively competing in their favorite sport rather than sitting on their butt in front of the TV.

Hope I can still shoot IF I last that long


Geoff Ross
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Old February 28, 2001, 07:49 AM   #7
Dave McC
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Join Date: October 13, 1999
Location: Columbia, Md, USA
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Thanks, guys....

I find comfort in this, since I'm rapidly sliding down the slope into old age. My barber gives me a senior discount, young men and women tend to call me sir instead of Mac or Dave, but there's few other bennies.

My hunting bud insists(he's 39, a body builder and healthy as a horse) that I take not only a cell phone into the woods but a walkabout radio and use his ATV. It's pretty obvious that my hunting days are limited, if not quite over.

Trap and other clay games are something that I can enjoy long after it becomes dangerous for me to go into the woods by myself. And I've too many responsibilities to take unnecessary risks.My youngest child is 14.

Meanwhile, seeing courage and dedication in others is itself elevating.

And, to quote my father....

" There's unsung courage and unnoticed beauty all around us. If we look for them, we'll find them"...
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Old February 28, 2001, 12:59 PM   #8
Oleg Volk
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Join Date: December 6, 1999
Location: Nashville, TN
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http://www.a-human-right.com/people/s_60mil.jpg The man in the photo just died of cancer. He was roughly the same age as one of my friends who stopped by last night, a youngster in his early 50s. I like talking to that crowd as they have a more balanced perspective on events (mine goes back less than a decade, theirs -- half a century). They can shoot, too.
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Old March 1, 2001, 10:14 AM   #9
misstargets
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Join Date: December 18, 2000
Location: Northeast Ohio
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Excellent post...Trapshooting is such a great sport...wish more would get involved....A gentleman on a squad I shot in had to be in his eighties, had open heart surgery about 8 months ago, but still out there in the bitter cold doing what he loved..come to find out he won the Grand American a number of years ago! On the same squad was a 11 year old, everyone just having a great time.

I just had to link your story over on http://www.trapshooters.com

Take care,
Carol
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Old March 1, 2001, 12:25 PM   #10
Dave McC
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May he rest in peace, Oleg. While he is remembered,he's not far away.

Thanks, Carol, no problem....
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Old March 1, 2001, 12:46 PM   #11
K80Geoff
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Geezers

The beauty of this sport is that you can compete untill the end. Even if you are in a wheelchair you can still compete.

A true sport, not a kids game

Geoff Ross
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Old March 3, 2001, 04:45 PM   #12
DML
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As they say, Old age isn't for sissies."

Pushin' 60. Eh?
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