Firing at clay targets harder than it looks

There are a few things in life where you probably don’t want to be anywhere near when they occur.
Wandering the streets of Pamplona, Spain during the running of the bulls, or arriving at a English soccer match only to a see a full-fledged riot break out in the terraces, probably are two of the best examples of that.
And if you were anywhere near the Fort Frances Sportsmen’s Club range last Tuesday evening, you easily can add being within a 10-mile radius while Lucas Punkari is trying to shoot skeet.
When club president Brad Houghton asked if I wanted to try taking a couple of shots, I was quite game—but also a tad nervous mainly because I haven’t shot a gun in at least a decade, if ever.
So when we made our way to the seventh station, which is situated right next to the low house, as it’s called, it was my turn to try and knock down the targets.
Or as I was calling the exercise in my head, “Try not to blow my arm off.”
I also was told that this was, in fact, the easiest station to try and shoot a target down, which is always a bad sign if you tell me that something is extremely easy.
Once Brad explained how to load the gun properly, and the proper aiming technique, it was time to fire away.
“Pull,” I said properly, with perhaps a bit of nervousness and trepidation.
As soon as I said that, out came the target from the low house and I took aim.
BOOM!
The first thing I noticed was the kickback from the gun itself, which I had been expecting. What I didn’t expect to happen, however, was how strong the kickback was from what I had envisioned, as I’m fairly certain my shoulder blade might have been pushed back a couple of inches.
As for my shot, which I expected to be miles off target, Brad and the other shooters there looking on told me it actually wasn’t that bad for my first time, and the main thing that I was off on was my timing.
So I was given a few more attempts to try and hit the target. And although I was unable to get a clean shot, I ended up getting my timing down a lot better and progressively was getting closer and closer to making a hit.
But since I was using someone else’s equipment, and probably would waste an entire year’s worth of ammunition, I decided to quit while I was ahead.
For someone who is far from an outdoorsman, I was fairly impressed that I didn’t make a complete fool of myself out on the range, and that I was able to use a gun and not be freaked out by it.
It’s safe to say that if those at the club would like me to come back and try again, I certainly would do so as I would love to try and actually get a shot on target—even though it might take me a few hours.
However, I must say the archery range does appeal to me, except for the inevitable shot that ends up finishing with a arrow going straight through my shoe.
• • •
There’s a saying from the early 20th-century Spanish-American philosopher, George Santayana, that goes, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
It was those words that came into my head almost a year ago now as my brother and I watched from my home in Sault Ste. Marie as LeBron James made his now infamous decision to “take his talent to South Beach” and join Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade on the Miami Heat.
Back in the summer of 2003, the L.A. Lakers had a similar “dream team” scenario on their roster as they signed both Karl Malone and Gary Payton to play alongside Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.
Joined by the easily-forgotten Devean George, the Lakers were heavily favoured to win the NBA Finals in 2004 but ended up being stunned in five games by the unheralded Detroit Pistons.
Fast-forward seven years and it’s now the Heat in the role of the heavily-favoured side—only this time to be knocked off by the massive underdogs in the Dallas Mavericks.
However, unlike that Lakers, which saw Malone, Payton, and O’Neal all leave the team during the off-season, the “big three” in Miami remain intact seemingly for a number of seasons, and should be the odds-on favourite to lift the Larry O’Brien Trophy come next June.
Mind you, that’s also presuming there will be a NBA season next year with the threat of a lockout, but I digress.
As another saying goes, you must lose a title before you win one, which is something the Heat, and especially James, will take away from this setback.
• • •
And speaking of title games, that leads us to the contest which I’m sure nearly every one of you reading this column will be watching tonight.
Game 7. Stanley Cup final. Boston versus Vancouver.
The winner takes it all and the loser has to take the first train out of town (okay, that’s a bit over the top but you get my point).
As you might of noticed in my thoughts on the Heat, I’m a big believer in what has happened in the past plays a big part on what might happen in the future, which leads to my prediction on what will happen in tonight’s contest.
Back in 2009, the Detroit Red Wings jumped out to a 2-0 series lead over Pittsburgh. However, the Penguins got right back into the series with a pair of victories on their home ice.
When the series returned to the Joe Louis Arena for Game 5, the Red Wings handed the Pens a 5-0 drubbing—and looked certain of capturing their second-straight Stanley Cup.
Instead, the Penguins tied the series up again back in Pittsburgh, then pulled off a classic 2-1 road win in the seventh game in the Motor City, sending this Penguins’ fan into pure ecstasy and my friend, who is a Red Wings supporter, into a month-long drowning of his sorrows.
(Actually, I’m pretty sure he’s still not over that game, and I’ll probably be getting some friendly hate mail from him by the time you read this).
So, what does this have to do with tonight’s game? Well, just like two years ago, the home team has won every game in the series up to this point, with Vancouver winning tight affairs at the Rogers Arena and Boston blowing the doors off of the Canucks at the TD Garden.
With everyone questioning the mental state of Roberto Luongo since he was pulled Monday night, it’s safe to say the pressure squarely is on the Canucks as they look to win their first-ever title in their 40-year history.
And although the Bruins haven’t won since 1972, it’s safe to say they almost have nothing left to lose.
My prediction for the final score? The Bruins winning 3-1.

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